My SASE, an SOS Answered

Mad to write, mad to not write?


I never heard back from that publisher. Not a rejection. Not an acceptance. My self-addressed and stamped envelope was not returned to me. My manuscript inspired complete apathy, and somewhere around four months of waiting I felt sorry for myself. At five months I was angry at the publisher and myself for following the rules and not submitting simultaneously. At six months I realized that this is not a process I choose to repeat. Like most major realizations, the sorts that end in divorce, dropping out of graduate school, or fleeing the country, my decision left me without a plan. Should I keep writing? Was it possible for me to stop, to be a “normal” person who manages to be just fine, thanks, without getting up before dawn and making up entire worlds? Should I continue to submit to traditional publishers, and know that I’d be over forty when I finally finish the rude rounds of silence? Should I curse my muse, whom I call Cerridwen, scream into the cold winds that stream from behind her doorway to the North? Was it my fault that the winter was harsh and cold, was it my angst that brought Cerridwen’s icy attentions far South?

I realize I don’t control the weather, well, mostly I admit that I don’t.

Still, there was a symmetry between the harsh winter and my state of mind. I was freezing in the rejection of my call. I stopped writing in the fourth month of my self-pity. I wasn’t happier, although I did enjoy sleeping later. I picked up where I left off with my novel, but it was too difficult, and I spent the fifth month trying to understand what happens next. I dragged out everything I’d ever written. Stacks of short stories, a couple of longer (but not quite novella) pieces, the ream of paper that is the novel the publisher couldn’t be bothered to reject. I was shocked at how prolific I had been, despite having a full time job and only grabbing an hour here or there throughout most of the work week. I started reading those old works.

And something better than a self-addressed, stamped envelope was returned to me: my willingness to live my gift.

I became willing to return to the craft that my God chose for me. I regained acceptance of my role as conduit for the words my terrifying, inspiring Muse sends. I rejected the soul-death of refusing the call.

One of my earlier stories playfully investigated the theme of art as communication, and posited that without an audience (even just one person), that no work of art was truly complete. It was written in 2008, years before I ever thought of publishing. I read it, and fell in love with the faith I’d once had in the power of art. I read it and was surprised at how much my writing has improved in the intervening years and writing workshops, but that’s fodder for a whole other post. I read it and realized I wanted to publish it.

I’m happy to announce that the story is with my editor, Jacinda Little. Over the next three years, I will release everything in my gigantic stack of proliferate scribbling that is worthy of readers. This includes the novels.

I realize that this post is a complete flip-flop on my last one. I changed my mind. I learn and I grow and I’m being honest with you about where I am now, and why.

While I’m admitting my flip-floppery, I’m also not planning to do that writers retreat. I loved the idea of it, but I loved it for the wrong reason; I loved it because it would be a way to make myself feel legitimate as a writer. REAL writers have big publishers and books in stores! REAL writers go on retreats! I wanted to be a REAL writer, just as much as I wanted an excuse to run away and take naps and eat a lot of bread and sit on a porch and watch the sunlight sift through leaves and tap out inspired words when the spirit took me. I’m calling myself on my own BS. The spirit is always with me. I don’t need a rental house to find it. I just need the willingness to accept what is given. I need to stop focusing on comparing myself to other writers who are more successful in ways that are not a part of my path. I need to stop feeling like I’m somehow less REAL as a writer because of who publishes the work or how exotic the locale of the places wherein my words are written. Humility is what I need. Humility, and the help of people who don’t even know they’ve helped me. Thomas MertonMari Biella, and Dan Holloway: these people are you. This, too, is another post, but know that each of you carried a message I needed at exactly the moment I needed it. Thank you for sharing your words and your thoughts, for they are what helped me rehabilitate my warped ideas of what it means to be a REAL writer.

As ever,



Edit – 04.03.14 Three days after I posted this, I received my SASE. It contained a form rejection, and no comments. The story of the SASE is stronger without this addition, but this post isn’t a story, and I can’t honor your time to read and comment if I don’t also honor the truth. 

I remain very, very happy with the path I’ve chosen, and note that it is actually delightful to get a letter addressed by me in the mail. 🙂 I think my handwriting is friendly. It had to catch me by surprise before I could see it objectively, but I’m glad I did.


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20 thoughts on “My SASE, an SOS Answered

  1. It is so lovely to hear your voice again, Aniko! I agree with Edward, you’re a real writer. And also a wise and insightful one. I’m so glad you’re releasing your books and stories so that the world can read them.


    • Margaret, hi! Thank you for being an unfailing advocate for my voice. You write some of the best contemporary sci-fi I’ve encountered, and if you find something of value in my voice, then I have hope that there really is something of value there.



  2. Your former (non) publisher is completely rude and entirely unprofessional. I’m glad you have a new publisher and was very pleased to read “I’m happy to announce that the story is with my editor, Jacinda Little. Over the next three years, I will release everything in my gigantic stack of proliferate scribbling that is worthy of readers. This includes the novels.”

    It will work!


    • Hello, dear Poppy! Thank you for commenting. I went through a very “how rude of them!” phase of discontent, and I still think it’s very, very sad that publishers can’t figure out a better mechanism for responding to potential authors. I don’t know of any other business that requests the efforts of your labor without compensation, then completely ignores those efforts once they are submitted. I cringe to think how many wonderful novels are lost because the authors gave up when confronted with such abject apathy. In any case, I’ve decided not to cringe away into obscurity, but rather to blaze forth in whatever small way I can on my own!


      -your daughter who writes


  3. Aniko, I’m so happy to read this. I wondered how things were going and now wish I had checked in on you a little more. I agree with Edward, you have always been a real writer. Can’t wait to see what you’ll be releasing!


    • My friend, hello! You were always checking up on me in spirit, and I know from your blog that you’ve been managing many and various things in your own life, so no need to worry about checking up on me! I haven’t been the best about reaching out or keeping in contact. Someday, we’ll have to do a TESS meetup and sit and talk about all the stuff that’s not in the blogs, as friends and fellow writers.

      I hope you know I’m on the edge of my seat for the literary fiction you’re crafting now! 🙂 It seems like we’re both branching out from our horror origins. I’m glad we’re on the journey together.



  4. Aniko, it’s so lovely to read another post from you! And it’s very gratifying to hear that I might have been of help to you somehow, though I honestly had no idea I was being helpful at all!

    “Flip-floppery” (beautiful term) is, I suspect, pretty common in writers. And I don’t think that any one path will ever be a perfect fit for an individual, simply because an individual’s needs, strengths and desires are so specific and particular. What is important, though, is that you never lose sight of why you started writing in the first place, and why you continue to write. And I agree with other commentators here – you were always a real writer; you still are; you always will be. Never, ever lose sight of that fact!


    • My favorite Mari of all the Maris there are or ever will be! I’m intending to write a post on how you helped me, but here’s the very short version: you published a beautiful book, Loving Imogen. You published it and made a portion of it free on your blog. You shared the stories because a story is meant to be shared (my interpretation of what I’ve read in some of your posts). Your courage and steadfast dedication to crafting beauty and your truth was my path out of my decision to give up on writing. I cannot thank you enough.

      If that wasn’t enough help already, (grins!) you published a review of Dan Holloway’s Self Publish with Integrity, which acted as signposts on the path you created. I’d even forgotten I’d downloaded the preview when I read your post. Then, at just the right moment, I scrolled through my Kindle, found SPwI, and started reading. I think I clicked the “BUY” link within five minutes. Thanks for bringing Dan and his work to my attention!

      I hope all is well with you!



  5. Thank you for putting my thoughts into words, in such an eloquent manner. Experiences much like yours are the reason I decided to self-publish, and I haven’t looked back. My only question is, why did it take me so long to figure out I didn’t need anyone’s “stamp of approval”, but my readers’?


    • Nicholas, hello! I can’t speak for all writers, but I know I felt a tremendous push to get that big publisher validation. That push, though, came from within me and I’m not sure what triggered it. I self-published my first novel without even trying the whole agent-publisher-submission cycle, knowing fresh to the game that I wanted full creative control. It was, and continues to be, an awesome experience! Yet I decided to follow it up by… going a different route? A bit insane!

      Thank you for the comment, and for the Tweets!



  6. That article was so close to home I half expected to see an “Amen” at the end of the page. It was like a good sermon, and I needed it. Thank you.


    • You are welcome, Carol. Thank you for letting me know that you got something from my post. I hopped over to visit your blog, and say ‘aloha!’ I spent very little (too little!) time in Hawaii, and found everyone there to be gracious and beautiful. Your comment reminds me of that time, and that way of being – thanks!



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