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Sometimes When We Touch, the Honesty’s Too Much

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The first time you sent out a story the first time you got rejected the first time you got accepted the first time you kissed a boy the first time you started a novel the first short story the first time you saw a play and cried when the convict died. The first time you got a bad review, a good review, lukewarm, no review. What am I chopped liver? Baby in a corner. Ship in a bottle. Port in a storm. The first time you couldn’t write. The millionth time you couldn’t write. The dictionary. The dinosaur. The first time you wrote a character that didn’t smell like you. The first moment you realized you were a goner.

What was your first time?

15 Responses

  1. The first time I died, I was SO MAD at the unfairness, the sensation of floating in that black void, the growing dread of what might be my eternity. Thank goodness for defibrillators – that, literal, jolt which revived more than my pulse. I am every-day grateful for this second chance to experience more firsts.

  2. The first time I had multiple wordgasms

  3. I don’t have an answer. I just loved the question. I don’t think you stopped writing poetry, you just do it sometimes in the form of blog posts.

  4. The first editor who liked, “…really, really liked…” what I wrote. (Don’t just love Sally?)
    My brain did a back flip. Oh that’s what they want and how they want it. I got it. Okay then.
    That was 30 years ago.
    It’s easier than you think and harder than you will ever know.

  5. The first time one of my stories was published in Braille.

    The first time I saw Paris.

  6. “What was your first time?”

    Ooo — Umpity Questions, one of my fave games.

    “The first time you sent out a story the first time you got rejected the first time you got accepted”

    Long time ago, don’t remember. The firsties were all pomes. The first story that got accepted, I do remember. It was twenty-five years ago. When the acceptance came in the mail (the way it was done in those days), I sat down hard on the kitchen floor and sobbed like a child.

    “the first time you kissed a boy”

    He wasn’t a boy, he was a man, though he and I were scarcely older than boys. I was nineteen and he couldn’t have been much older than that. It was in a gay bar. I had just come back to the city from living in the stix and was looking for adventures I could write about. An old friend had just come out and invited me to this bar. Drinks were cheap and I got drunk and decided to give Peter a whirl. (Peter wasn’t the name of my friend, he was just some guy at the bar.) We kissed and his face was like bristles on a warm rubber base and I wondered why women let men kiss them.

    Just for the record, I prefer kissing women, though, since the Peter encounter, I’ve not been able to figure out why they would want to kiss me (or any guy). The first girl I kissed was so long ago, I don’t remember her name.

    “the first time you started a novel”

    I assume you mean started writing one. January of 1987. It was pretty bad, but it had stuff I could use later, when I learned how to write, and I did, both learned and used, and parts of it have been published.

    “the first short story”

    Again, assuming you mean started writing one. There were a few early attempts at writing some sort of prose that was short-story-ish, but the first real short story I wrote was in the late summer to early fall of 1981. It wasn’t as bad as the novel, but it was nowhere near good enough to be published; and, as with the novel, it had usable stuff in it and has been reworked. What is a writer if not a bipedal cud-chewer?

    “the first time you saw a play and cried when the convict died.”

    I didn’t. Didn’t see it, didn’t cry. When I worked in criminal defense, I saw some appalling things with regard to convicts. Still didn’t cry.

    “The first time you got a bad review, a good review, lukewarm, no review.”

    I would like to address this question at some length, but even thinking about the answers bores me to the tears I did not cry for the convicts, so we’ll let it pass.

    “What am I chopped liver?”

    Not so far as I can tell.

    “Baby in a corner. Ship in a bottle. Port in a storm.”

    None of these, either, I don’t think.

    “The first time you couldn’t write.”

    There are various ways this could be answered, depending upon meanings both implicit and explicit. The one time I unmistakably had that thing called writer’s block was in the summer of 1988, when for a month I could not think of a line with which to start a story (any story).

    “The millionth time you couldn’t write.”

    Every fucking day.

    “The dictionary. The dinosaur.”

    In some limited respects, logically equivalent, though as a reader and a writer, I find the dictionary much more useful.

    “The first time you wrote a character that didn’t smell like you.”

    Not early enough. Refreshing and invigorating when I finally did it.

    “The first moment you realized you were a goner.”

    Not early enough. Refreshing and invigorating when I finally did it.

  7. Every time a first, every time a last. The maddening joy continues.

  8. The first time I was in Switzerland and in awe of mountain majesty (fingers of God, I called it then, apologies, I was only 16).

    The first time I watched the dawn rise over the backdrop of Angkor Wat
    (first and only time, but still).

    The first time I gave birth and my son searched my eyes and strained for my nipple. The second and third time were also firsts.

    The first time I was published, back in 1994, In Hartford Courant’s Northeast Magazine – and it was the cover story – and let me tell you, I cried with elation and screamed with excitement when the editor called. I’ve mellowed since but its always nice.

  9. The first time I saw the convict die was during the movie version, played by Hugh Jackman. It was Christmas, and I was with my family, and I cried like vomiting: in the theater, in the lobby, all the way home and most of the evening after that. It was awful.

  10. In college, something I wrote I knew was good because I was learning to open up. It was relief and release at the same time. Feedback and encouragement was my reward.

  11. The first time I had sex–at 17) my leg fell asleep. My boyfriend said, how do you feel, and I said, “tingly” and he grinned and said, “You had your first orgasm!” For years, I thought having my leg fall asleep was an orgasm.

  12. The first time I had a story idea, while recovering after my third major surgery (I hadn’t written for a year, because my brain wasn’t up to speed) was such a rush…

    My older daughter came in and asked me if I was okay. I told her I was wonderful–I had a real story idea.

    She immediately grabbed the sketching pencil she had in her hair, grabbed the paper out of the printer (I couldn’t bear the weight of my laptop and my other daughter was playing with my phone) and shoved it at me.

    She shoved it at me, said, “Go, Mom!” and closed the door behind me.

    I might have teared up a little, but only because it hurt to laugh.

  13. My birth genes gave me a 99.9+ IQ which I used but did not know for a long time. My Big Break was the Triple Nine Society a 99.9% IQ social club. The editor of their journal in an annual gathering asked for authors. I responded, “Would you accept lifestyle submissions rather than Ph.D. thesis renditions?”

    “We have too many of these. Show me what you have.”

    I’m now on my way to being the most published in the organizations 30+ year history by being curious, sociable, and looking at the organization (rather than myself). My mantra is: AUDIENCE, PURPOSE, MEANING. This actually works for my submissions to Vidya.

    Well . . . you gott’a do what you gott’a do.

    Bryan

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