New York is a city without children. Even when you do see them, it’s an oddity, like the circus is in town and the performers are being led up 6th Avenue from their train cars.
I know there are lots of kids in the parks and in the schools. I’m thinking about the streets, which is where I seem to spend most of my time when I’m in New York. Walking up and down and across various streets. And there are just so few children.
Maybe it’s notable to me most because my life right now is filled with children, these four kids
we shuttle to and from school and sports and friends, feeding them and watering them and compelling them to bathe on a roughly regular schedule.
I’m even more full of children than usual given that I’ve spent the last two years writing about the kids, meaning my thoughts and focus is consumed by their real lives and the lives I’ve been writing, all of which makes me wander the streets in New York wondering what my children would be like if they lived here. If I had not moved. If they also made there way onto the streets in limited appearances, briefly making their way from taxi to sidewalk to home.
Breaking with all recent history, I went to a writers conference
recently. I’ve avoided them for all kinds of reasons, mostly involving my total lack of interest in sitting in a room with a group of writers I don’t know and having my work critiqued.
Not that I mind having my work critiqued. I just don’t want it critiqued by people I don’t know, people whose work I’ve never read, people whose internal perceptions and biases are unknown to me.
This, though, was a conference primarily about publishing. I should have done this a long time. It was hosted by CLMP
at The New School in New York. Probably the best thing was a reminder that the people on the other side of what I do – the agents and editors – are, really, just people. And they are people who really like writers.
There is so much rejection
involved in writing novels and short stories, the often seemingly endless intake of rejection letters and emails, that it’s hard for me not to get a little cynical about the people who read my work. When 30 people reject a story of mine, then 1 at a very good journal says yes, I’m left confused and frustrated.
But meeting the people in person, hearing them, it was a reminder of how overwhelmed they are by the number of submissions they get. And especially in the case of books, it was a reminder of how beholden they are to what they can sell.