How Greg Brady Got My Groove Back

How did we get here?

This is the question that’s been plaguing me since I heard the news that an editor has nominated one of my published pieces for the 2019 Best of The Net Anthology.  The Greg Brady one.

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I know, right?  This was the one that when I submitted it to the journal I thought, “Yeah right.  We’ll see if literally anyone is interested in publishing this weirdo little piece.”

If you’re a regular reader of the blog, then as always, first of all, I’m sorry, and second, you know that I have a scorching case of Imposter Syndrome as a writer.  I barely graduated high school, and I did not attend a single day of college.  I’ve only ever had office day jobs since I was 18.  I’ve always really loved writing, but growing up, nobody besides my ninth grade English teacher ever told me I might be good at it.  I was taught to graduate high school and get a job, preferably something that offered health insurance.  End of story.  So that’s what I did.

People will tell you that nominations and awards are just external reinforcements that don’t matter, but they absolutely DO matter to me.  It’s how the writing community tells me that I might be good at this – and as an Imposter I never think I’m good at this – so it’s tremendously helpful when an authority in the writing community says, “I think you’re good at this.”

People will tell you that it doesn’t matter that you don’t have a writing education, but I can assure you, especially after mingling with writers for the past year, it DEFINITELY matters.  It matters when someone asks you what your favorite braided essay is and you have to stall for time while you google, “What is a braided essay?”

As it turns out, I write a lot of braided essays.  Who knew?!  I’ve always just called them “rambling”.  There’s a whole writing lingo world out there that I didn’t even know existed.  What the hell is slipstream?  Ekphrastic poetry?  A lyrical essay?  I have to constantly google things to keep up with these people.  I only learned how to use semi-colons this year, after I spent about three months googling, “How do you use semi-colons?”

When you have to put your work up against competition who have a freaking PhD from Stanford, or people who have already put out books with major publishers, or people who are tenured writing professors at Columbia, a lack of education matters.  It is intimidating as hell and it makes you feel like an outsider.  These people all know each other from years of networking through academia and workshops and they are a club.  I spend a tremendous amount of time every day knocking on their doors and introducing myself, hoping they’ll let me in and not ask me how I got there.

So how did we get here?  I’m not sure I’ve ever told you the whole story, but I feel ready to tell it today.

I’ll give you the Non-Cliff’s Notes version, despite the fact that my name is not Non-Cliff.  Oh, but if it were.  I would be such a dick!

Back in “the day” as the kids say, roundabout 2004-2005 when the band was first starting out, I used to send out emails to our mailing list to let people know about upcoming shows and band news.  I would write a couple paragraphs, maybe tell a little story, act like an asshole.  You know, be myself.

One of the people on our mailing list was Audra Schroeder, then-music editor for The New Times in Broward/Palm Beach.  She emailed me and said she liked my writing voice, and did I want to freelance for the magazine?  Maybe write a band review or something about upcoming concerts?

You should have seen the look on my face.  Someone wanted to pay me to write something?  So I did.  Working with Audra was a blast.  Eventually a new editor came in, and we didn’t mesh well at all (he edited the term “local yokels” into a piece I wrote about one of my favorite local bands), so that was the end of freelancing for New Times.  I’m touchy about the use of the term “local yokels”, apparently.

Then I started a little myspace blog for the band where I could air out my unedited thoughts on a daily basis, and I was really surprised at how well it was received.  I mean really surprised.  Eventually The New Times declared my blog “The Best Blog in South Florida”.  Holy crap-balls.  I had to leave my desk that day and go outside and cry.  (Truth be told, I still cry every time I get an acceptance.)

The blog kept on keepin’ on, and I was getting a really nice following.  I started writing freelance pieces for other local music and culture magazines.  Things were going great.

Then, in 2012, my boyfriend and bandmate/songwriting partner of ten years ran off with one of my best friends, married her, and they started churning out babies together, their gleeful lovey-dovey faces plastered across my social media on a goddamned daily basis while I tried to pick up the shattered pieces of my exploded life.  I had to block, delete, unfriend mutual friends, and eventually burn down all of my social media accounts and create new ones, and even that didn’t stop it.  When I went to see friends’ bands, they were there.  When I went out to brunch, they were there.  When I tried to go to the movies, they were there.  It felt like a nonstop assault.

The hurt, the anger, the humiliation.  It clawed through my body like a wolf and, pardon my French, ate my fucking soul until I was hollow.  It wrenched every creative bone out my body and pounded them into dust.  My writing, my painting, my singing, the band.  Whatever I had was gone.  Dead.

I cast writing and art and music out of my life and climbed into a shell where nothing could hurt me.  I had no desire to ever feel exposed again, in any way, shape, or form.  That part of me was officially over.

And I tell you what, I never thought those things would come back to me, but they did.

After six years of creative silence (and the love and support of my amazing husband), I decided to take a chance and start writing again last year with the promise to myself that I was really going to try this time.  That I owed it to myself to give myself a chance.  Not just start a blog, but send out work for publication, write a book, really put myself out there and dive into the writing community to become a real part of it.  Walk into the big, scary room all by myself and say, “Hi, I’m Maggie.  Let me into your world.”

I started the blog in February 2018 and sent my first piece out for submission on November 26, 2018. Here’s where we’re at today, eight months after that first submission:

I have had sixteen pieces either published or that are awaiting publication this year.

One of those pieces has been nominated for the 2019 Best of The Net Anthology.

I finished writing the damn book, all 73,600 words of it, and it’s currently a semi-finalist for the 2019 Pamet River Prize from YesYes Books.

I have been accepted as a member into The Author’s Guild.

The blog is now read in 62 countries.

Best of all, I’ve got a really awesome group of people who read and comment and subscribe to this blog, and I’m so grateful to all of you who come here to read about whatever I’m pissed off at during any given week.  I treasure, and I mean really treasure, the fact that you take time out of your lives to listen to me ramble about, relive, and work through the stuff that keeps me up at night.  You have no idea how much it means to me.  I do not take your support and friendliness and senses of humor for granted.  You’re all so freaking awesome.

What I want, from all of this, more than anything, is for all of us to not feel alone with our struggles.  You all make me feel less alone with my struggles.  I hope I make you feel less alone with yours.

You can come back from the things that you thought destroyed you.  You can start over.  You can work your ass off and make things happen if you’re willing to take a chance to put yourself out there.  You can pull yourself out of the scorched rubble and rise like a goddamned phoenix from the ashes.

I’m just an uneducated dirtbag who spends too much time inside her own head when she’s not listening to Poison.  Sometimes I write stuff down.  When I don’t know what I’m doing, I google it until I figure it out.

If I can do it, you can do it.

58 thoughts on “How Greg Brady Got My Groove Back

  1. OMG Maggie congratulations! And just so you know, those of us that did go to college still feel like outsiders in the “writers world” too. It doesn’t matter whether you have an education or not, people will still wonder, ask, assume that if you haven’t proved your writing chops by getting published, your still not a writer. That’s not all people though, but I’ve had the same type of experiences and sometimes it’s like, don’t judge me a-holes, just read my writing! I like your ramblings, your colorful descriptions of your heartache and pain, and I can totally relate to this….
    “The hurt, the anger, the humiliation. It clawed through my body like a wolf and, pardon my French, ate my fucking soul until I was hollow” this line in itself is BRILLIANT!!
    You are my dirt-bag hero Maggie! 😉

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’m so glad I’ve gotten to know you through our blogs and I’m so thankful to have such a bad-ass here in the Ladies of Hades. You’re such a rock star and I love your writing so much. You worked your ass off against all the odds to get your degrees and you’re my educated dirt-bag hero! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh shucks Maggie, if you were here I’d……..punch you in the shoulder, call you a bitch, pretend I wasn’t about to cry and then tell you “Sooooo…let go have a beer and BBQ for breakfast!” I’m going to have a t-shirt made that says “Educated Dirt-Bag Hero” so when someone asks I can say, that’s right mofos, it’s Ms. EDUCATED Dirt-Bag to you! lmao

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is so exciting and wonderful to read! I love your voice and you definitely deserve all the good that’s coming to you! I’ve been stalled out and second guessing myself writing lately so it’s so nice to have people to look up to! Thank you!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! This writing thing is tough, with the ups and downs and blocks that happen. There’s so much doubt to be had! When I stall out, it’s usually because my brain is kind of marinating in ideas that haven’t fully formed yet. I write everything down, even if it’s weird or makes no sense at the time. That will usually get my motor running again eventually!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We only read your stuff because we don’t have to pay for it.
    I said that just to see the momentary look on your face before you realized it isn’t true at all. You do have a terrific sense of storytelling and can turn a phrase as well as Hemingway or Dickens.( Fred Hemingway and Richard “Dick” Dickens.)
    I am really glad to have been here to see your rise to stardom and can say “I knew you when…”, but the truth is I read your stuff because it is entertaining, relatable, and damn fine writing. Your sheer talent overcomes your lack of formal training and your desire to learn (thank you, Professor Google) more than makes up for it. You have a natural gift and use it well. A sincere congratulations on all your current and future success.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aww, thanks for saying that. Now I have to go cry again! Thankfully, I have the large shoulder of Fred Hemingway to lean on. 🙂 I have so much fun with all of you and it’s always the highlight of my week to be able to come and chat with everyone here in the comments. Thank you so much for being here!

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  4. I am so freaking stoked for you! Your writing is awesome and you are a total badass author. I’m so glad we found each other in this blogiverse because you make me feel less like a moderately insane person stumbling through life and more like I should be embracing the weird randomness inside my own head. And for the record, people can learn lots of fancy terms for writing but at the end of the day you’ve either got the talent or you don’t, and you most definitely have the talent.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words. I’m so glad I found you, too! It’s funny that we should all find each other here in the blogiverse in 2019, when all the fancy writer types are like, “Blogs are still a thing?!” They don’t know what they’re missing! The blogiverse is theeee hottest spot on the web for the moderately insane. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Having tread amongst the educated dirtbags for more years that I care to mention, my pride for you is limitless!! You are brilliant, and even more brilliant than your genetics supply. Love ya kid!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I really needed to read this. I often feel like an imposter, a hack, because I don’t have a journalism degree or an MFA in creative writing, and I don’t know all (or any) of the lingo either. But I love to write, and it’s one of the few things I KNOW I’m good at. To know that you have found success gives me hope and determination. Thanks for always being so raw and honest.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for hanging around here with me! It’s so tough out there when it seems like everyone and their mother has either a PhD or MFA! At the very least, I don’t have $100 grand in student loans, right? Seriously, though, thanks for hanging out. You guys all mean the world to me.

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      1. It seems (to me, anyway) that the MFA just means you spend 6 months writing something and revising it and rewriting it and revising, revising, revising, until it’s “perfect”, whatever that means. I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than two days on anything I’ve written. I just don’t have the patience for “perfect”!

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  7. First of all you genuinely ARE good at this. I have a degree in literature, and seriously, I’d have to look those terms up too. Something I learned along the way is that assholes always have big mouths. It can be intimidating— but actually, it means absolutely nothing when it comes to their skills. You are actually writing good stuff, and people are actually reading you because they WANT to. That’s big deal.

    What you have accomplished is so inspiring! I’m so proud of you ☺️♥️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for saying that! It’s a whole crazy world out there of writing, so it makes me feel better to know that I’m not the only one who doesn’t know what the hell “slipstream” is! Thanks for the kind words and for hanging out with me here. I’m so overwhelmed with everyone’s kind words, I feel like I might just burst. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The fact that you’re succeeding as a writer without the fancy education and degree speaks volumes. Your voice is your own… no one needed to teach you how to use it. Many congrats and continued success!
    Now… where can I get that book?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Not available yet, but I’m hoping to hear something back on it in the next couple months! Thanks for the kind words. I’m so glad we found each other here in the blogiverse. Your blog absolutely kills me!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks!!! I submit all my stuff through a site called Submittable, which makes it super easy. You can search for publications by type, genre, subject, and then read their submitting guidelines, attach a piece and a bio and voila! The fun journals get back to you pretty quick, usually within a month, but the big guys? Oh man. I’ve got stuff that’s been pending review for six months so far!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. You inspirational dirtbag hero! Congratulations! I only started writing a couple years ago, and submitting less than a year ago, so knowing your back story helps a lot. Crying helps, too, and submitting to the fun journals. Thanks for every uneducated word you’ve ever written. Keep going!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much!! It’s an uphill climb when you first start submitting, but once you get a couple acceptances, the ball really does start rolling! Now it’s just part of my regular day every day. Wake up, check Submittable, send out some pieces, wash, rinse, repeat!

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  10. Like someone else said (or what I think they meant): when you’ve got it, you’ve got it- and you have definitely got it! No degree necessary.

    I am thrilled to know that your blog is not all that old- so I don’t feel like I missed that much!

    This inpires me. I am in the opposite boat: why did I go to college? I always wanted to be a mom. Staying home with my 6 kids while putting Coach thru PT school and a fellowship and a docotorate program was dreamy- don’t get me wrong. Occassionally I struggle with ‘what am I gonna do when I grow up’ this summer is one of those times. I want to finish writing my book. Dare to dream. Gonna keep working on it.

    Congrats to you- well deserved! You are a master!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you thank you!! You always have such fantastic insight and your blog totally cracks me up, too! Thank you for being here and always adding something interesting (and funny) to the conversation. You’re another person I met through this blogiverse here and I couldn’t be more happy that I did!

      Oh, and I did some reading on Mary Ann the other day and I was dying. I couldn’t figure out how to comment on Blogger, so I probably have some googling to do on the subject!

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  11. After reading that I feel as though I know someone famous. Good for you, your writing is very very good and I love reading your blog and seeing it on my email list. I know I am in for a good time. Keep it up forever, or at least as long as you feel like it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh, thanks! You’re making me blush! I always tell people that fame would only make me more insufferable. 😂😂 That’s anxiety talking, who of course often does the talking for me! Thank you so much for the kind words. Now that I’m writing again, I can’t imagine ever stopping again! I’m so lucky to have folks like you here!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh that was a joy to read! And for so many reasons. I must’ve missed the memo that you’d only been blogging here since Feb 2018. How accomplished you are and the fact you are featured on The Bloggess’s home page had me thinking you were an old hand at this. I, like others here, look up to you but knowing your back story has made you even more of an inspiration. I got me some of that education but didn’t seem to pick up any knowledge. Don’t know any of those things, or writers, I google EVERYTHING. I do find a creative pursuit offers the freedom to do things ‘our own way’. Creators of the past who chose unconventional routes are often those most talked about. I shall look into Submittables as that is my next hope, to have some writing or photography published, not found the right home yet. Congratulations on all your successes, I love your style. Can’t recall how I found you but so glad I did. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is definitely one of the fun things, just doing it our own way! I applied for a couple fancy writing workshops this year (that turned down my applications) and then when I really thought about it, I was like, “Wait a second. You want me to spend $3,000 and fly across the country on my own dime so that I can read an essay out loud to a room full of MFA people?” In hindsight, I’m so glad they turned me down. The way I’ve been doing it is working out pretty good, without having to go into debt to do it!

      And LOTS of literary journals are looking for artwork as well as written pieces. Especially photography! I’m going to start submitting some paintings in the next couple months, so I’ll let you know how it goes!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I love this piece and thank you for sharing it.
    Now tell me how I go about getting published…???
    I thought ~ like me, you write to
    Filter out the shit in your head and give it to anyone who might just be able to relate; helping them release their own “anger.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do a lot of research at Duotrope.com and Submittable.com to find literary magazines and journals that might be a good fit for my work, and then I follow their submission guidelines, submit a piece and a cover letter, and then anywhere from 1 day to 1 year later they send either a rejection (which is most of the time) or an acceptance. It takes a lot of patience – I’ve had some pieces that have been sitting “In Progress” at journals for over a year now!

      Rejections are something you have to sort of trick your mind into not hurting, because they come OFTEN. The week before last, I received six rejections in less than 48 hours, which 100% sucked. You just can’t take them personally or it’ll eat you alive.

      Liked by 1 person

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