What Did You Expect?

A long time ago (I’m talking late 20th century!), on a quaint and sprawling college campus to which I commuted 30 miles 5 days a week, I was asked to contribute to a student-produced literary mag titled The Longer Now: Various Sketches from the Center of the Cosmos.  The image above is its cover, painted by the mag’s chief creator.

The Longer Now was not the university’s official literary mag, which was titled Collage.  In fact, The Longer Now was conceived of by and filled with the works of students whose work had been rejected by the wise, cultivated, and presumably better-suited-to-judge- good-art editors of Collage.  The editors of The Longer Now sought, among other goals, to disrupt the status quo of the school’s arts community.  Their primary stated goal, though, was to “showcase good art that was as close as possible to the essence of what it is to create”, so everything in it is raw and unpolished.  For those of us who submitted written work, we were asked to turn in our handwritten poems, stories, or essays on whatever we’d happened to jot them down on, even if just a barroom napkin.

I submitted a short, silly poem titled “The Cover Up”.  I gave it a surprise ending, and my intent in writing the poem was to force people to re-think their expectations of feminine beauty.  I was a feminist waaayyyy before the “#MeToo” movement.  Following the poem is a picture of how it appears in The Longer Now.  I regret that I can’t share more images from that pretty cool little mag, but I never knew any of the other contributors and have no way of finding them now to get their permission to share their work.

The Cover Up

Susie Muse rues her shoes.
If not them, she’d rue her rouge,
which she needs, like her powderpuff,
eyeliner, lipstick, base, eyeshadow,
hairspray, earrings, hair coloring,
and all her other beautifying stuff,
to emphasize her pretty face enough,
to draw the hungry stares of the glaring rubes
upwards and off of her really big


I have to tell you, it felt pretty damn good, after 6 consecutive semesters of Collage rejections, to see my work in print, even if it was just a one-off destined to be quickly forgotten by all but its no-longer-dejected reject artists.  Indeed, I had forgotten it myself, until a few weeks ago, when I was helping my parents clean out their garage, and I discovered a huge plastic tub, at the very back of the topmost shelf, containing a bunch of my old books from college, including The Longer Now, and even dating back to the 1970s.  Here’s a picture of the really cool thank you note, written on black paper with silver ink, that I got from the mag’s editor, cropped for privacy concerns:


A few years later, I discovered the best way to get published in Collage, discounting, of course, submitting quality work, was to join its editorial staff, which I did for 4 semesters, during which time several of my works were published in it.  Maybe someday I’ll share them too.

How about y’all?  Anyone have any good rejection stories to share?

via Daily Prompt: Disrupt

17 thoughts on “What Did You Expect?

  1. One of my non-major electives was a general art class, which was taught by the head of the fine arts department. We covered various disciplines like photography, abstract drawing, painting, and sculpture. The professor harshly critiqued everything I did, and I struggled to maintain a passing grade. However, she didn’t hesitate to keep all of my photograms & pinhole photography examples, displaying them for future classes. I wish I had gotten my better work back. She said she ‘misplaced’ all of it when I contacted her several years later.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Really glad you shared this bit of your history. I sent a novel to 10 publishing companies. They said they loved it but one instance (had something similar) the others were no longer publishing romances but scientific medical or other materials having given up on the genre. In those days it cost a fortune as you had to send self-addressed stamped envelope including 10 pages of excerpts. So 10 samples sent cost me $100.00. I gave up on that idea real quick as I had other concerns. But it was interesting. Many commented on what and why they liked my submission, which made it more real and easier to accept (the rejection that is) although it never bothered me much to be honest.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I haven’t seriously tried to submit anything. I’ve queried a few agents, but not seriously, and wasn’t surprised when they rejected me. One was a little snide, but the other sent a form letter. It’s all good. I might try again one day. Or not. After spending ten years in college (Undergrad, Grad, Law School), I’m a little tired of being graded. 🙂

    BTW, I commuted 30 miles to college, too. I thought I was the only crazy one!! Wasn’t off campus parking brutal? 😦

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s