Chin Up! You Should Just be Happy You’ve Made it THIS Far! – Editor in Chief – Kelly Fitzharris Coody

“Complain to me when you’re talentless and homely.”

“I’m jealous of how thin you are!”

“My, my, with that red hair, you could break everyone’s heart in this room.”

“Woooo!!I just got my royalty check and oh my god! Kelly, can you edit half of my next book for free?”

“I do love a good story… however I’ll just keep the memory of how insanely beautiful you are with me to sleep:)”

GUESS WHAT?!!!!! I am writing my own books, juggling staying at home with my children, being a good wife, running this web site, collaborating with another author on a book, and making sure there’s food on the goddamn table.

This is fun?

This is productive?

I’ve worked so goddamn hard on this book – on making it a really, really good book that I’m proud of.

The other “authors” don’t consider me a peer because of my fucking appearance. (As you can already tell, I’m going to swear a lot. Be advised.) What do you want me to do, put a bag over my head? This is my face. I won’t apologize for being a woman.

I’ve never felt more underestimated, undervalued, or disappointed in my life. Do you want to know how many times I have been asked to “sex chat?” Or if I’m “happily married?” Rather than asking me about my writing or anything else.

Oh, and while I’m here, I need to address this.

What gives?! I asked  you guys nicely if you would share a link from Underground Book Reviews’s Facebook page for me, as I was up for being reviewed by them, as I had made Pitch Perfect Finalist.

BUT ONLY ONE PERSON DID.

So, guess what happened?

A book about quiche won and, yeah, I am sort of crushed. A BOOK ABOUT QUICHE RECIPES WON AND GOT A THOROUGH, WELL-PROMOTED REVIEW. And me? Well, I’m still here. Plugging along. Going back to the drawing board.

Melissa and I have both come down with a cold / flu / plague thing, so we’ve been MIA recently. We will be MIA for a little longer as we figure out the new schedule – the themes are still going to happen, they just may happen after the holidays in order for them to work.

As of right now, we are pushing back publishing to a later date. I will put up another editor’s letter once I figure out what that date is.

Another funny note that I might mention here – half of you are friends with me on Facebook and don’t even realize that I’m the one you email with your submissions – that I’m the one working tirelessly to be a platform for YOUR writing. I created this magazine to give a voice to those who were talented and deserved to be heard.

Most other literary magazines / journals have a minimum response time of three to four months – please begin to expect the same from us. ESPECIALLY if I’ve told you we’ve accepted your work.

I’m the friend who listens to everyone else vent, is there as a shoulder to cry on for them, would do anything for them, but never receives it in return.

My throat is swollen and it’s painful to swallow. I’m going to bed.

I truly cherish the community that I’ve been able to foster here – but, sometimes, it’s hard to be everything to everyone while my own work is collecting dust in the corner. And, I’m still sick.

PS: I’ve mailed off everyone’s Pushcart Noms.

You know who I am.

fullsizerender-61

 

Advertisements

Sticks & Stones may break your bones; but words, they stay forever.

My last letter was written with the intention of giving kudos and thanks to Melisssa Libbey; and she deserves the hell out of it. She has been a breath of fresh air – exactly what I needed. I was holding armfuls of lemons; she was the one who came along and told me how to make lemonade with them.

Some of my journeys are too long for this letter. I’ve been sick off and on since I came down with mono, after being infected by the Epstein-Barr Virus when I was 30. My health deteriorated after receiving the Gardasil vaccine back in 2007 at the urging of a trusted OB-GYN.

I fought other uphill battles, daily, for example. A typical day during 6th grade (at Ruckel Middle School in Niceville, Florida), I was carrying my clarinet case with me to band, when I realized I was being followed by a boy who kept calling me a “F_gg_t.” (I despise that word on so many levels, hence the reason why I’m blanking out the vowels up there.)  My friend was walking with me. Instead of coming to my defense, she, instead, said, “Hey! I’m not in band!”

Yeah, so I was in band, had unruly red hair, glasses and braces at the same time, and it was 1996, so the glasses back then…they were not so stylish. That doesn’t matter. I was bullied from then on up until the end of my senior year of high school.

With a few moves in between, you know, because of my dad and that whole Air Force and Lieutenant Colonel and flight instructor thing that made him have to work at different Air Force bases.

 

My freshman year of high school, in Wichita Falls, Texas, I actually was on the receiving end of a classmate (a boy) walking up to me and telling me to my face: “You’re ugly.”

I didn’t cry. I didn’t react. I stood there and stared at him like he was insane.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A few other guys razzed him about making such a heinous comment to a girl–first, because it was mean as hell, but second, according to them, because it wasn’t true–but my friends and I stood there, stunned, unwilling to talk to the entire group.

I’ve told my eight year-old daughter about some of this, to which she replied, “That’s horrible!” , sadness painting her face and her big, bright doe-eyes.

“It’s okay, baby,” I explain to her. “Mommy’s all grown up now. And it doesn’t matter.”

“But you’re beautiful!” she protested, crying.

Now I felt really bad.

“Let’s say that I wasn’t the prettiest girl you’ve ever seen.(Not that I think I am; my daughter thinks I’m pretty by default because I’m her mother.) Then, would that have made that situation right?” I asked.

Well, no. Of course not! she said.

“That’s the point I’m making: bullying is bullying is bullying. I don’t care why they do it, how they do it or what goes on at home, but it’s wrong. And it does, in fact, hurt.”

I always got bullied for the dumbest reasons:

1 Having pale skin

2 “Talking funny”

3 Red hair

4 Freckles (“Tell me, are babies born with freckles??!!”)

The worst part about bullying a new kid is that you are absolutely kicking them when they’re down, no question. I already went home to our rent house on Putter Drive (off of Bay Drive, in Bluewater, close to Niceville) and cried my eyes out in the bathroom after school nearly every day, bullied or not. I was so lonely. The worst part about those two years was that there were a few teachers who’d decided they didn’t like me and slyly ostracized me from the group of students, the class activity.

The Florida panhandle is still my home, no question. Going there makes me happy. Life is full of bumps, twists, turns, what have you. I had a hell of a lot more happy times living there than I did sad. The hard part was that we lived there for six years, moved away for four, then moved back for the last two years of high school.

This journey isn’t always one that we complete or grow out of; there are plenty of adult bullies, trust me. Judgmental, angry, unhappy;  who will do anything and everything in their power to bring you down with them. They may be coworkers, family members, whoever. But there are inevitably people you may have to encounter on a daily basis who seem to make it their life’s work to bring you down.

I encourage you guys the way that I do because I know what it is to feel sad and alone. I know what it is to start to hate your own writing. Hell, I know what it is to hate myself. Don’t give me a bunch of flak for that last sentence, guys; I’m being real. Adolescence wasn’t always necessarily kind to me. Adulthood isn’t a breeze either: as women, we’re always fighting to feel recognized, encouraged….and, sadly, worthy of praise. Worthy of feeling that we have intrinsic value.

This is how adversity has strengthened me. 

I still have nightmares where I’m confronting someone that I’m so angry with; and I’m trying so hard to scream, and my voice barely comes out a whisper.

I am on the pragmatic, skeptical side of life as opposed to the endlessly optimistic, but I’m okay with that. Overcoming personal battles are sometimes the hardest ones; and those wounds are the ones that run the deepest.

The point is this: the only person who has the power to tell you what or who you are is you. No matter how hard that is to swallow, no matter how many people have told you that you aren’t worth it, that your work is all for naught, CLOSE YOUR EARS to them! Work that much harder, smile, find your happy place; once you do, you’ll find where you belong. This goes for poets, writers, artists, etc, but for everyone else as well. I omitted some of the more “vicious” stories about my past, but it’s because I don’t need to sit here and relive it. Writing about it once is cathartic; fifty isn’t.

But, let your critics strengthen you. They don’t have the power to tell you who you are or what you’re able to do.

Break that glass ceiling, girls – and fly straight to the top. Where you belong.

And if you get a minute, drop me a line: sicklitsubmissions@gmail.com

 

Kelly Fitzharris Coody

KellyHeadshotPhoto1

CEO &  Editor-in-Chief

 

*Featured photography courtesy of Brian Michael Barbeito*