Instead of writing this one, I figured, why not make a video? Or two?
Gah! Take Two!
Instead of writing this one, I figured, why not make a video? Or two?
Gah! Take Two!
Another theme that hits close to home for me!
At times, I feel as if I live my life looking through the rear-view mirror, wrapped up in the past, mentally stuck somewhere in between nostalgia and reliving an unfinished moment.
That being said, it’s sort of implied that nostalgia is unique within each person.
Remember when I wrote another letter about us, as human beings, as a whole becoming a sum of our experiences? We are. Plus, what about perception? My God! That makes a world of difference. My dad saw Germany and France through vastly different lenses than I did when I was just a grumpy mop of red ringlets, wearing white tights and plaid dresses to school.
You can grow up in the same household as someone for your entire child-teenager life, yet recall different fond memories.You’ll also inevitably remember the same events in a different light than one another.
When I came down with food poisoning in Paris, my dad remembers taking me to a French doctor’s office, where he spoke fluent French for the first time in years with the staff, accessing a dormant part of his brain. I just remember the stomach pains and being a crying lump on my dad’s shoulder at The Louvre.
And that, SLM readers, is why I love this theme so very much.
Laughter, adversity, friendships (both good and bad) all have a purpose somewhere in our lives.
We’re each walking pieces of art, being sculpted and molded by these things every day.
I hope you enjoy our pieces.
Kelly Fitzharris Coody
April: Hillary Umland’s Letting Go Theme
Letting go is such a magnificent writing prompt that covers so many areas of our lives. I’m particularly excited about April because I can’t wait to show our writers and readers alike the diversity of the pieces we will be publishing.
So, as it turns out, the end of Women’s Month in March turned the whole month around, fantastic work landing in my in-box left and right, plastering a smile to my face as I read your groundbreaking writing.
I am a last-minute gal myself, so I don’t mind last-minute submissions; just know that you may be squeezed in somewhere. And I’m more than okay with that. Hopefully you guys are too. I have come down with some sort of bizarre, fluish illness as of late, that has been making me sluggish and irritable; and, hopefully, understandably slow to respond to your submissions e-mails.
I’m crossing my fingers in the hopes that we will soon have an intern here at SLM to help my weak-immune-systemed self sift through all of the amazing work I’ve received so I can both respond to you in a more timely manner, as well as get your pieces scheduled a bit more quickly.
What a venture this has all turned out to be; I feel like the luckiest editor alive. I can’t tell you the joy it brings to me to get a submission that is just absolutely breathtaking. There’s no experience that can match it. Although this job does not pay, it pays me in a way that nothing else can.
Hillary Umland, one of the very first contributors to Sick Lit Magazine’s open submissions call, has been one of my favorites. Her work is so descriptive, yet in a way that makes the use of “like” and “as,” seem unnecessary. Her writing flows in this effortless way, blowing me away every time I read one of her pieces. She is truly a talented, valued member of this team.
I think we can ALL relate to the process of letting go. Letting go of a loved one, a home, friends, an exciting time in our lives. It hits particularly close to home with me, having been an Air Force *brat.* I’ll never forget when I had an asthma attack at an away football game (I was in the marching band) and I’d had to take off my band uniform because it was so hot outside. I’d forgotten that my friend and I had switched socks on the bus, so there I sat, with one sock up to my knee and the other down to my ankle, with a nebulizer blowing albuterol vapor into my lungs. I wanted to hide my face.
So far I’m thrilled with what I’m reading. Just give my sick-self some time to respond to you with a proper scheduling date for publishing. Thanks, writers, for being patient with me. Know that I appreciate all of you; I appreciate your kindness as well as your overwhelming sense of knowledge when it comes to your craft of writing and art.
I’ll close with this question: What does the concept of letting go mean to you?
Peace and love,
Your Favorite Editor 😉
Kelly Fitzharris Coody
PS: WE ARE OPEN FOR SUBMISSIONS UNTIL I SAY OTHERWISE! ROCK!
(send everything to email@example.com)
*PS: The photo I used as the header is of my room when I was a senior in high school, living in Niceville, Florida, attending Niceville High School and running at least 5 miles a day. Oh to be young and energetic! I found it fitting; I mourned the loss of that house SO MUCH when I was in college and found out my parents were selling it. So, I finally had to….let go.*
Recently I met a group of women who saw my personal Twitter page (@kellycoody) and balked at my self-description. (This was on the Carnival Cruise where I was a bit too martini-happy).
I say that I’m self-deprecating in that tiny little blurb of a paragraph; they completely lost their shit over it. They said if I was such a “feminist,” then why would I ever describe myself as being “self-deprecating?”
First: My humor is self-deprecating. Because I don’t take myself that seriously. If I want to laugh about how I fell on my face on the way to a meeting, the fact that I look like Buddy the Elf on escalators and moving sidewalks, or talk about my translucent eyebrows, then why does this make me a piece of shit feminist? I’m admitting that I’m human and that I can laugh at myself. Feminism doesn’t only come in one shape or size—in fact, it’s damaging for us as women to expect one another to be carbon copies of each other; and it shows me that we have a skewed image of what we think feminism is. The most damaging thing we can do is openly criticize one another and harbor ill-feelings and jealousy for petty, superficial, competitive and altogether ridiculous reasons.
I have to say, Women’s Month at SLM let me down, man!
That does not mean in any way that I didn’t publish some damn good work and that I haven’t received some submissions that are fantastic reads. It’s just that, again, I got a disappointingly low number of submissions. March is Women’s history month! What the fuck gives? I chose March on purpose.
Next year I will feature Black History Month in February. I’m very excited to host that as it will be the first for us here at SLM; I want to celebrate during February. Because by celebrating and acknowledging challenges, struggles, and daily life as a woman, or as a person with darker than white skin, is how we break down barriers. It’s how we try on each other’s shoes for a moment and see what they see.
I have to do a bit of political commentary here. I have to.
Last week, I saw on TV at a Donald Trump (I HATE TO EVEN TYPE HIS NAME) rally, multiple black people being punched by Trump supporters, manhandled as they were taken out of the rally, and leaving with bloodied faces and noses. IT MADE ME SICK. Why are we condoning this disgusting behavior? Why are we celebrating it? To punch a black man in the face while he walks up the stairs just because you are a racist sack of shit is DISGUSTING. I am ashamed that someone like Donald is gaining power, popularity and a devoted following.
I have to get off the topic before I get really, really upset.
Back at the beginning of February, I got more submissions for April’s theme “Letting Go” than I did for March’s Women’s Month. So, if that tells you anything, which it should, then you would be a bit miffed if you were me too.
I run this magazine because I love it.
I will continue to run this magazine because I love it.
But, understand that I’m only one person over here and I am also taking care of my two children, taking one to cheer-leading practice, making sure the other one pees in the potty and not on the wall, making sure they’re fed and dressed and don’t look homeless, and then making sure that I don’t look homeless too. Ergo, I’ve been much slower to respond to your submissions than I used to be; this doesn’t mean I’ve rejected it, that I’ve not seen it or that I am not getting to it. It’s gotten much busier here at SLM (this is a good thing), but with that comes the opportunity for patience, my friends.
Dr. Jeffrey Toney, who co-authored an op-ed with me that was published in The Hill, Congress Blog, and on HuffPost, has sent me an amazing collection of his 100 word stories, leading me to consider deviating from this month’s theme to publish his work a bit early. The enthusiasm with which he writes, coupled with the fact that in a 100-word story every word counts, these stories are the definition of shattering the mold.
I took a week’s break from publishing during my childrens’ Spring Break because: I needed a break. And I did not have enough content to fill the rest of March’s Women’s Month. Re-read that last sentence. I did not have enough content to fill the rest of the slots in March.
We’re all busy—I know that. But to the writers out there who are afraid they aren’t good enough, who send me sheepish e-mails and then never follow-up, WHY? You write for a reason. All of us have something to say; but if you’re a writer, then you have that passion to put words on paper and make it mean something. So do it. And don’t apologize for it.
I have to thank all of the female writers who did submit to Sick Lit Magazine for this month—you guys nailed it. Mickie, Grace, Kate, Rebecca, Penny, Bibi, Hannah, Prerna, Teresa and Joanne—thank you for showing such a fantastic range of fiction, prose and poetry. Reading your work inspires me to write more, to write with more passion; it inspires me to be better.
Prerna Bakshi is never afraid to put herself COMPLETELY out there; she bares her soul when she writes. She gets harassed almost daily on social media (one fight I got in the middle of; I ended up flustered, going back and forth with some moron, getting all worked up—Prerna had to calm me down), yet she persists. She knows what she has to do and how she has to do it—and she does it with such conviction that it’s inspirational.
It makes me feel so entitled when I whine about not getting enough sleep because I was up with my violently ill child until 3 A.M., before horrendous storms rolled in, knocking out our power for a good chunk of time.
Women, I know you’re out there. I know you’re writing.
Before I created this web site and the concept for Sick Lit Magazine, my writing got so many rejections that they started to make me laugh. I wanted to start a “rejection wall” because it was so comical.
Last week, I toyed with changing the layout of the web site. But then I took a step back and shook my head. Nope. I am keeping it just the way it is. I don’t want to be like anyone else. I want us to be Sick Lit Magazine. I want us to publish and continue to publish challenging pieces that make our readers think in a way they haven’t had to since they read the book Catch-22.
Reading Rebecca Harrison’s short stories is like stepping into her world; it’s truly confounding how she can create this surreal atmosphere in so few words. If you haven’t read any of her work yet, I will implore you to do so.
And know that we continue to stand for equality in all forms, social justice, human rights and that we extend the invitation to submit to us whenever. To everyone. I may just be “one little girl,” but I’m here to stay. And I’m here to kick some ass.
Good afternoon, team, writers and readers of SLM. We’ve worked so hard this year; we’ve all been writing, painting, sketching and playing guitar like there’s no tomorrow. And I couldn’t be prouder to be the platform that gets to show off your work. It is such a treat. And I’ve truly enjoyed getting to know each and every one of you since SLM’s uncertain start back in October of 2015.
Gene Farmer created our new avatar, which I am forever indebted to him for (THANK YOU, Gene!!), Brian Michael Barbeito keeps me supplied with countless beautiful photographs to go with your writing (THANK YOU!) and everyone else does amazing things every single day; things that may go unnoticed. So I try to be the one to capture that.
You may have noticed by the title of this letter that it’s spring break. My kids are both home with me, so yes, IT’S STILL WOMEN’S MONTH, but we will be taking a tiny break from publishing this week and pick back up on Monday, March 21st with some pieces from Kate Jones, to delve us back into the true spirit of feminism.
If this week is not your spring break, then enjoy it whenever you get it; if you get no spring break, I understand. I, too, once worked a thankless job that treated me like Milton (from Office Space), continually taking my red stapler.
Don’t let them take your stapler, I say. Take your red stapler back, Milton. And seize the day.
Kelly Fitzharris Coody
Women’s Month, Women’s Writing Month, Women’s Week, what gives?
Let’s switch gears.
I say decide because it ultimately is a decision. Right, we can’t actually sprout wings and fly. Imagine if I’d stayed at my old job, as a banker, working 40 hours a week busting my ass only to bring home 300 dollars every two weeks of disposable income. After paying for daycare, the mortgage, meals out, gas, etc, etc, etc, that’s really all I brought to the table.
When I first ventured outside my comfort zone, putting myself out there as a writer, so many people liked my Facebook page merely based on my profile picture. (It was of my face. So shut up before you even say it.) How stupid and ridiculous is that? Not that stupid. Not that ridiculous. And, to my surprise, not that uncommon. When I first started Sick Lit Magazine, I was still just as shocked at how many people visited the page only to click on my “Gravatar” and then leave without reading any of the stellar work we’ve published.
So, can women do serious journalism?
Yes. When we step out of the superimposed box. When we stop thinking of gender in terms of an indictment or definition of self. When we begin to work for ourselves and say what we really think.
We don’t exist just to serve as a face, body or walking caricature of what society thinks we are; nor do we simply exist to serve as baby vehicles and happy housewives, scrubbing that darn pan and selling Mary Kay!!
If you sell Mary Kay and are offended, you’ve missed my intent. When you begin a side project like Mary Kay, Avon, Eyelash Product (insert whatever here) Du Jour, Tupperware or colorful, microwave-safe, BPA-free dishes, you’re still working for the man, my love! You’re still getting a fraction of what you deserve! And look at what the hell you’re selling: cosmetics and kitchenware. All we do is put on makeup and cook and clean, right? (Oh and bleed. And have babies. And apparently, according to every stupid-ass movie I’ve seen, binge-eat ice cream when we break up with someone?!!! WTF? I used to cut my hair every time I had a break up. Fuck ice cream.)
I see so many women who think they’re only worth what’s on their surface; they become a machination of what corporate America and misogynists alike think they’re worth. Because they can’t see beyond that superimposed box that surrounds them. If that’s all you focus on in life, solely your appearance, at the end of the day when you lie down with yourself at night, you feel that hole in your heart.
Since I happen to have a gender-ambiguous first name, I’ve been on the receiving end of plenty of e-mails objectifying and shaming women. (Sorry that you hate your ex; welcome to life, my dear boys. It’s called everyone. Everyone hates an ex or two. Or three. Get over it and move on.)
I’m in a Starbucks with my husband and kids on a shitty, humid, cloudy Sunday (also known as Valentine’s Day).
I started Sick Lit Magazine just a short five months ago–with no clue as to the direction we would end up going; I just woke up one day and I knew what I had to do. I knew what I wanted to do. And I knew that I wanted to go the opposite of the places I’d been. So, if snotty literary agents turned right, I was going left. If uppity editors owned the building, I was going to do doughnuts in their parking lot.
Inspiration isn’t the kind of thing that you just get–you can’t grab a pre-packaged version at the grocery store on the corner. It, like its close relative happiness, is an intangible. Damn intangibles. So elusive. Plus, when you add the variable relativity to the mix, intangibles can seem impossible.
Intangibles cause so much trouble, don’t they? People go to great lengths in the hopes of reaching one. But, most likely, what’s impeding them from getting there is themselves.
Here’s a hint: Life doesn’t have a guidebook, road map or instructions for a reason. We’re supposed to bump our heads a bit and try again. We’re supposed to learn.
Listen, I fight against my own chronic illnesses and pain daily–I don’t always win. Quite often, I fall down and mess up. I lose my shit and scream and say things I swore I’d never say as a parent, much less an adult. We’re human; each one of us is flawed. Flaws, adversity and loneliness have strengthened each one of us. I may have to remind myself daily to leave the cynicism at home, but it’s still progress. We’re all works in progress, much like our writing, our music and our art.
Please know that I’m one of those people who doesn’t follow her own advice.
I know what it is to pour your soul into a project and have it ripped to shreds in front of you. I know the feeling of getting that hundredth auto-rejection letter from yet another agent. They tell you that your writing is weak. Or diluted. Or whatever. They tell you that you’re not strong enough and neither is your writing. But it is. And you are. Sure, some of the writing may be sloppy, that’s a given. But it doesn’t make you incapable of fixing it and making it better.
Without us, people wouldn’t have art to hang on their walls, books to read or music to blast in their cars or headphones.
I’m more than okay with admitting I’m complicated, complex and flawed. Because at the end of the day, when I lie down to go to sleep at night, I have to be able to live with myself, right?
And I refuse to, as a woman, be taken at face value (“just another blonde”). I’m more than Michael Coody’s wife. I’m more than Nikki’s mom or Jackson’s mom.
I’m Kelly. I have a name. I also had a different last name before I got married. I have depth. I speak multiple languages. I don’t have an easy answer to the conversation starter, “So, where are you from?” That’s okay. It’s what makes me who I am.
I read a quote recently that said, “The person who broke you cannot be the one to fix you.” I hate this quote. No one can break me. No one. Ever. They can try; they can hurt me; but I will persist. I will exist. I will live. They may hate to see my name, my face, but that speaks volumes about them, not me. No one has the ability to break you, either. Take the reigns of your own life back and stop feeling like a slave to the system. Write. Paint. Love. Enjoy. Live your life the way you want to; not the way society tells you to live.
I’ve been through a lot in my 32 years on this planet and I know that I have much more in store for me. Hell, my kids are only 7 and 3 – they haven’t even hit double digits yet.
If you saw me walking down the street in my skinny jeans and Adidas trainers, you’d probably mistake me for some hipster kid (or maybe just a hipster wannabe. I’m not that cool.)
It just further proves that you can’t judge a book by its cover.
I couldn’t be more thrilled to host Women’s Month/Women’s Writing Month. You ladies inspire me daily–you’re a wealth of unique, spirited talent; and proof that the pen is, in fact, mightier than the sword.
Please enjoy some spectacular writing and art this March. I’m keeping submissions open–continue to send in ideas, questions, writing, art, etc, for Women’s Writing Month and all the other remaining themes.
Oh, hell, let me just post the theme schedule again below:
I’m one of those rare nerds who actually enjoys editing; and I’ve loved reading (almost) every single piece I’ve received for 2016 thus far. You guys are inspirational. So as much as it might be intangible, it is also contagious. An editor who loves her job is happy to have a full inbox. An editor who hates her job snarls at it.
Readers, writers, contributors and SLM enthusiasts, continue doing what you’re doing.
Because you’re damn good at it.
*Just to clarify, we’re staying open to unsolicited submissions until further notice–send everything to firstname.lastname@example.org*
Kelly Fitzharris Coody
*I may wear many hats, but I always wear the same sunglasses.*
Invisibility; it’s quite a concept, really, when you sit down and think of all the endless meanings and interpretations.
I have to thank our regular contributor and one of Sick Lit Magazine’s Pushcart Prize nominees, Kate Jones, for giving me this concept for February.
She’d read an editor’s letter of mine where I talked about feeling left out and alone, quite often, as a woman, as a wife, as a mother, when speaking with other adults who constantly jumped to refer to my husband as the “obvious” mastermind and brilliant partner between the two of us.
So, of course, we’ll be kicking off the month with some pieces from Kate Jones.
So far we also have Katie Lewington, Anne Elizabeth Weisgerber, Dee Lean, Jason Jackson and many more to come lined up with various pieces of prose.
I love reading Kate Jones’s (as well as all of your) work. It’s inviting and fun to delve into, but then will shock the hell out of you and make you think.
[Thank you, Brian Michael Barbeito, for finding me the photo on the right.]
Once during a theatre exercise, as preparation for my role as the villainous Mary in The Children’s Hour, the director made the rest of the cast form a circle, lock arms and refuse to let me in. My job was to try as hard as I could to get in the middle of that circle. I cried, I pushed, I grunted and elbowed and screamed, but ultimately failed.
I was 14. After the exercise was over and I was in splotchy tears, red ringlets bobbing around like mad, the director made the cast give me a hug. I hate to sound like a cliché, but it kind of changed my outlook on life. I realized there that it was me and only me who had the power to hold myself back and to let myself feel invisible. So, if that was the case, didn’t I also have the power to do the opposite?
I remember going to school my freshman year of high school a completely different kid.
The goal of the exercise was ostracism. I was meant to feel invisible and completely alone.
And, my God, look at the way the world is now; we’re always on our goddamn cell phones and iPads and never talk any more.
Sometimes it seems we are harvesting a generation of invisibility.
I suppose I’ll leave that for you to ruminate on before I begin publishing some stellar work.
Per the norm,
Peace, love and cheers, my Sick Lit Mag readers and writers,
Kelly Fitzharris Coody