Thursday, September 18, 2008

Historical Moments

Rena J. Mosteirin is the winner of the 2008 Kore Press Short Fiction Award for her novella, Nick Trail's Thumb, which will hit stores this fall. This month, read about her take on the thoughts and anxieties of a newly published writer.

I wake up one morning in my apartment on the South Side of Chicago and Shannon Cain calls me to tell me that Lydia Davis picked my novella “Nick Trail’s Thumb” as the winner of the Short Fiction Chapbook contest and Kore Press is going to publish it. I sit down on the floor. I jump up. Shannon says things. I say things. I hang up and jump around my apartment causing the squirrels on the fire escape to scramble and my neighbors to complain by turning up their music. I sing along to my neighbor’s music. I throw open the door and beam at the squirrels who take this as an act of hostility. I wave at Pops, the homeless man who is finding treasures in the trash bins. He smiles.

I call up my fiancĂ© who is just leaving a seminar at the University of Chicago. I won. I won. I won. I call my brother who teaches elementary school music in Brooklyn. He picks up the phone even though he’s at an assembly. I won. My mom is headed out to class at Queens College, where she has bravely taken up undergraduate study after fifteen years as a homemaker. She is an English Major. I won. My father says he knew it all along. Knew I was a winner. I hang up the phone and dance around some more.

I get dressed for work and skip down the street. I skip past the bar on the corner named Jimmy’s. I won. Past the playground where recess is in session and all these kids are running around and screaming and I wave at them like a queen. I won!

Fast forward to this morning: I wake up knowing that the final draft, copyedits and all, were sent to Shannon yesterday. During the months of drafts going back and forth between us I doubted everything I had once admired in the story. I was terrified that it was really bad writing and that it was picked by mistake. I worked through it, struggled through the anxiety, and yes, had the occasional banana split when the endless outpouring of reassurance, support, and love from my significant other just weren’t enough.

This morning I feel good about the novella again. Nervous too. But good. I’ve been telling everyone I know about the novella getting published, but now I wonder how it will feel to see it on my mother’s coffee table. Are the people at work going to look at me differently?

This blog posting should be about the upcoming election. I should be expressing my firm belief that Sarah Palin’s vice presidential nomination is nothing more than a dirty trick. The Republican Party has totally missed the mark if they think they can swindle the votes of Hillary supporters with such deceit. Furthermore, I am outraged at the blatantly sexist terms used to berate Palin, terms I am hearing more frequently now. These words tend to catch the breath in my throat and have the power to make me feel alienated from the speaker. This political “historical moment” has been fraught with hate speech and frequent belittling of women.

Still, I love the idea that we all have our own historical moments. That morning in Chicago was one for me. Others include when I finally convinced my mother to give college a shot and when I proposed to Jed Dobson, nervously, and he said yes. I can’t wait to hold “Nick Trail’s Thumb” in my hands, to slide it onto the bookshelf, to read aloud from it. Because I love the interactive potential of blogs, I’d like to suggest that other readers share some of their own historical moments in the comments section here. From the political to the personal, for better or for worse, tell us what rocked your world!


Anonymous said...

1. @#$%ing squirrels... They always assume the worst.

2. Any chance you could post a teaser?

3. Femininity aside, what is most remarkable about Palin is her similarities to G Dub: the baseless certainty, the righteousness, the utter lack of intellectual curiosity and so forth. America is long overdue for female leadership, but of the 150-million women in this country, methinks we deserve better.

4. Congrats!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Rena,

What a wonderful post! I think we often have trouble telling if our present moments will be historical, and later when we rewrite our narrative of the past the small, seemingly insignificant moments will become our most cherished and treasured. The last memory of being with a grandparent, as an example, becomes historical despite our inability to predict it. I love that you picked several personal experiences as examples of your own historical moments. I too consider these historical: a first date, a first kiss, moving in together, anniversaries, and all the unexpected surprises, joys, and sadness that come with sharing a history with someone else. Thanks and best of luck with your book!

Anonymous said...

Hola Rena!
I really enjoyed your blog. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself. Please let me know when your novella comes out so that I can purchase a copy and support your talent. I share your frustration over the hate speech used against Sarah Palin. It is horrible to hear men and even more upsetting to hear women reduce her to a caricature and fault her for her time spent mothering, PTA'ing etc. It is especially hypocritical in an election where Barack Obama is constantly praised for his choice to be a community organizer.

Anonymous said...

Great post!

A historical moment of mine:

The first time I had cappuccino and realized it was love.

ReefMonk33 said...

loved your poem on dave's blog. reading a good poem is a pretty good historical moment, so thank you. and, of course, congratulations!

Anonymous said...

Hey, Rena!
So glad to hear you're getting published. Congrats!
--Genesis (the mohawk kid)