Gather Around, Guys. You Might Want to Read This One Sitting Down. SLM is Closing. – Editor-in-Chief, Kelly Fitzharris Faulk

Loss, Life, and the Aftermath

I’m hopelessly transparent in all of my editor’s letters. I owe it to you guys; the ones who are putting your hearts and souls into your submissions. You’re baring everything to me on the blank page and in the bodies of your emails.

My husband is more of a private person than I am. He doesn’t quite understand the fact that I need to share my pain, my loss, and my grief in order to truly heal.

Back in June I suffered a miscarriage.

I am currently suffering from another miscarriage.

Two losses this close together are two too many. I can’t even begin to explain to you the myriad of emotions and hormonal fluctuations I’m going through – there are times when I flat-out feel like I’m losing my mind. That, coupled with the workload of SLM, the fact that it’s grown into something that’s beyond me is something that I can no longer control.

Honestly, as I combed through submissions and saw that about 90% of them were addressed to Nicole, I slammed my laptop shut and I think I even went so far as to scream into a pillow. Here I was working my tail off, yet again, trying to revive the magazine, working all alone, and I couldn’t even get any submissions that were addressed to me. I make no money doing this, guys. Nicole didn’t make any money. Melissa didn’t make any money. This was absolutely a passion project; and if I don’t even recognize the magazine I worked so hard to create, then it’s no longer fun. It hasn’t been fun for a long time. The accessibility aspect that I strove so hard to uphold; the fact that I wanted that open line of communication between the writer and the editor somehow made me into everyone’s favorite doormat. That’s not who I am. That’s not why I created SLM. I could go on and on and on and on, but the point of this letter is to convey to all of you that I’m officially closing up shop. 

To those of you who have been with me from the beginning: Kate Jones, C. C. O’Hanlon, Gene Farmer, Chris Iacono, Tom Gumbert, Nicole Ford Thomas, Scott Thomas Outlar, Melissa Libbey, Jayne Martin, Steve Carr, Dee Lean, Mickie Bolling-Burke, Katie Lewington, Steve Cooper, Sebnem Sanders, Don Tassone, David Cook, Jamie Andrews, and so many, many more of you that I know I forgot to name because I’m literally thinking off the top of my head at the moment: Thank you. You were my biggest cheerleaders. You all believed in what I did and wanted to be that change on the literary horizon with SLM.

And to those of you whom I wrote an acceptance letter to: I’m truly sorry. This is a ship that is simply not navigable by one person. I thought I could start things back up and it would be just like riding a bike, that everything would click and I’d get back into a groove. But that wasn’t the case. Those acceptances I sent meant that I saw brilliance in your work and I still see brilliance in it and potential in you. I’m just so sorry that I can’t be the one to display your work. 

After a long talk with Nicole, we named all the things that were going on in my life that were out of my control, that were stressing me and pushing me to my boiling point. Having two (almost) back-to-back miscarriages has done a number on my body and my mind and it has been the most god-awful, harrowing experience I’ve ever gone through.

I’m remarried to a wonderful, wonderful man who loves me and my children and would do anything for me.

But it doesn’t erase the horrible year I’ve had. It doesn’t mean that I don’t get a pang deep inside my chest of sadness every time I have to hand my kids over to my ex-husband. NO mother wants to see their own children only 50% of the time. That part will never get easier, I’m afraid.

There are still many aspects from the divorce that I’m bitter about and I’m angry about. I might always be bitter when it comes up. Who knows? A lot of wrong was done to me. I was stepped on a lot. And then there were those of you who either stayed with me during that time or who left as the world as I’d known it crumbled around me. That speaks louder than any words you might muster up as an excuse.

I’m not just a caveat for your limelight and a bullet point for your resume or a passionate letter-writer when you need a recommendation. I’m a real person who has real, devastating, life-altering issues going on at the moment. I’m a writer, too. I had a book published about a year ago.

To those of you who are regular readers and contributors, who know me well, and who care: I’m sorry. I truly am. You are the ones I was doing this for. Even the new contributors who have taken the time to comb through this site and find out what I’m really about and wrote about it in their emails: I was doing this for you, too. And I’m sorry.

I’ve poured my heart, my passion, my creativity into this web site and devoted countless hours to this project. It includes so much work that it’s laughable how simple some people think it is. I created this web site. I bought its domain name. I go through every submission and read it and contact that writer myself. After that, I have to go into the web site, format that writer’s work, ensure (maybe this is the fifth or sixth time) that there are no typos or grammatical or punctuation errors, insert their author photo and bio, put a category with it, choose a cover photo, and then I can schedule it for publishing. I also have to send the writer an email letting them know the date and the time that their work will show up on the web site. It’s work. It’s a lot of damn work. And it’s too much to be doing alone. At the moment there are over a hundred unanswered emails in the submissions inbox and it makes me CRAZY. I can’t do it anymore. And I certainly can’t do it alone.

I need to close this down and do something for myself for a while.

Nicole and I are very good friends. She no longer works for the magazine in an editorial capacity and hasn’t in a long time. So I meant  no disrespect toward her as I told you that when I saw all the submissions were addressed to her, that I sort of lost my shit. We talk frequently – and we also can’t ever seem to get off the phone with one another – because we’re essentially the same person. Our friendship and working relationship mean a great deal to me and whenever I start up something in the future, you might see her there with me.

But as of right now I need to do right by myself and take this albatross off of my shoulders and remove it from the string it’s attached to around my neck.

I need to do some work on myself and stop trying to distract myself away from my feelings.

More than likely, I will keep the same web site, but the URL will change. I’m a writer. I need to get back to my roots and I need to do so in order to stay sane.

Feel free to leave any and all comments, concerns, and questions below. I invite your input. Please. This is the one time you should speak freely.

Again, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that we couldn’t make it work. I’ve failed a lot in 2017 – but that doesn’t mean that I’m a failure. It means that I dared to take a leap of faith. I dared to do what no one else was willing to do and I failed. But if success isn’t a destination, then neither is failure. It doesn’t mean that you won’t see me again in another capacity. It means that this isn’t the creative outlet that I set out for it to be any more.

Thank all of you for your support.

Signing off,

Over and out,

Kelly Fitzharris Faulk

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Feel Like Starting Over? Come Explore Our “New Beginnings” Theme – Editor-in-Chief, Kelly Fitzharris Faulk

It’s….September!

And that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. It might mean back-to-school (either as a student yourself, a teacher, parent, or all three), meaning unchecked road rage in the form of crowded, bitchy carpool lanes; it could bring either a markedly busier or slower work pace for you, and September always serves as a lead-in to the holiday season and the harried, frantic conclusion to the year 2017.

*Side note about unchecked road rage- what in the name of Sam Hill is going on?! Not to sound like a disgruntled older woman, but I’m seriously alarmed at the amount of people just absolutely LOSING IT while in their cars. I saw some of the most God awful road rage, of all places, at the drive thru lane at Chik-Fil-A last week. One car cut another one off; sure, they shouldn’t have done that, but the reaction from the woman who was cut off was straight up disturbing. Her blood pressure had to have been close to heart attack level. It is NOT WORTH IT to engage ANYONE like that unless they’ve literally just snatched your newborn baby out of your vehicle. End of rant. *

Whether this year has been one of strife and struggle for you or one of success and triumph, time waits for no one. And the only direction it moves is forward.

Last night, my husband and I watched the movie “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,” starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley. Its humor has more of a subdued, subtle dryness to it, giving it the perfect opportunity to be in the background and serve as the perfect backdrop to a realistically funny look at what the world might look like right before it ended. Dean (my husband) kept trying to figure this movie out; he was determined to break it down and find its hidden meaning and intent. He kept guessing that the ending would take a drastic turn and the world wouldn’t end at all – that the asteroid might narrowly miss earth, giving the movie “meaning.”

“No, no, no,” was my rebuttal. “The point is that it doesn’t matter how much time we have here or what we think we’re supposed to be doing. If it takes the end of the world for you to ‘find your purpose’ or if you think you need to go backpacking across Brazil in order to find yourself, then you very well could be missing out on the greatness that’s already in your life. In the end, we’ve all got what we need right in front of us. We’ve had the right tools all along, we just didn’t know how to use them. Changing your scenery won’t change your problems and it won’t change you. Being with those who love you and loving yourself are the keys to fulfillment.” (Now, don’t throw that back at me when I’m super stressed out and complain about the annoyances of day-to-day life. Ha!)

All of that being said, each day is an opportunity for us to begin again, to try harder, to live our lives a little better and be a little kinder to one another. Just because you’ve messed up, fallen down, cried in front of your boss, reacted in situations with cowardice or malice as opposed to bravery and kindness, doesn’t mean that you have to live tomorrow that way. Messing up is part of the journey, guys. You’re supposed to do that. You are supposed to bump your head – a lot – in order to find your way. And you’ll keep messing up until the day you die. That’s just what life is. It’s about realizing who and what you are, knowing your shortcomings and your strengths, and using this knowledge to not only better yourself, but hopefully those around you.

That brings me to the reason why I’ve chosen the themes I have for this fall: All of these themes hit close to home for the vast majority of us. If you don’t have one instance where you have faced adversity, wanted to start over, or actually did start over, or witnessed or experienced a good versus evil battle, then maybe you need to get out of your comfort zone.

I’ve received a lot of wonderful submissions. If I don’t get back with you five minutes after you’ve sent me an email, remember that I’m only one person. And chill out.

Here is the official theme schedule:

September: New Beginnings

October: Good VS Evil

November: Strength in the Face of Adversity

Okay, guys, now do your thing and I’ll do mine. Until next time…..

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Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. Or, hell, go ahead. 

Cheers, 

Kelly Fitzharris Faulk 

 

 

Calling All Writers! Step “Write” up and get yourself some SLM Announcements! – Kelly Fitzharris Faulk, Editor-in-Chief

Here’s to Life, Literature, and bringing the spirit of SLM back!

 

Sometimes, we’re trying so hard to open a figurative closed door in our lives that we fail to look behind us to see a brand-new, shining, glassed-in sun-room. Forget that old window analogy; this time after God has closed the door, he’s opened up the entire back of your house.

The past is done; it’s gone. We cannot change it, nor can we live there. This is why it’s so important to live in the here and the now and to do your best to see that rainbow while you’re stuck in the mud.

I’m sure you’ve noticed my name change up above – I’M MARRIED! And it is a happy time for me and my family. Soon, I’ll be Kelly Faulk.

Onto the magazine!

I will officially be re-opening shop so to speak for submissions starting NOW and staying open until the end of October of 2017 for short prose (just don’t send me 30 pages) and poetry.

I do have a few themes up my sleeve:

Good VS Evil

New Beginnings

Strength in the face of Adversity 

 

You may begin to submit to any or ALL of these themes as soon as you are ready to do so to: sicklitsubmissions@gmail.com

*Now, remember: When submitting your work to the magazine, please, please, PLEASE, write the genre and theme somewhere in or on your email, write to me as yourself, and be as frank or as candid as you’d like.

Reminder: I want YOUR work. Write as YOU; write what you write best and write the hell out of it.

My mission and my intent have never been to conform to the rest of the literary world; on the contrary, I want to serve as a guide, a mentor, a coach, and a voice of reason in a world filled with chaos and closed doors. Unless I suspect you *might* be a serial killer aside from your day job, I usually make every effort to email you back as soon as I can and to provide you with my enthusiastic feedback, critiques, praises, what have you.

I’m starting this fall with a clean slate and a fresh outlook. If you’ve sent in work before and it’s gone unnoticed and you feel that it’s good and fits one of the themes, send it again. This year has scrambled us all up a bit to say the least. So let’s just start over.

Here’s to new beginnings, a brighter tomorrow, and the freedom to express ourselves.

Cheers,

dkweddingggggggg

Kelly

Transparency – Kelly Fitzharris (Coody)

So, want to know how it feels to go through a divorce?

 

It’s absolute hell.

You feel like you’re insane; ergo, in an attempt to quell some of your loneliness and pain, you talk to other men (friends or acquaintances, whatever) and become inexplicably clingy with them, to which they instantly recoil in response.

It’s not surprising that they do this. I mean, if I weren’t in the situation I’m in right now, I’d recoil too. I can understand where they’re coming from and I do not know why I’m acting like this – it’s out of character for me to say the least.

I used to love being alone. I loved it. I craved it. I missed the days when I could just go unbothered about my life and be who I wanted to be. I still mourn the one-bedroom apartment I lived in for two years while I was attending UT at Austin.

At 32, I don’t like to play games.

I’ve been with the same man for 12 years. On January the 1st, he bitch slapped me with a divorce that I didn’t see coming. Not even close.  We’ve ALWAYS had our ups and downs; it was just a part of us. I thought that this was another one of those lulls. I didn’t ever anticipate that it would end in a conversation where he said to me, “I don’t love you anymore. I’m tired of pretending. I’m sorry.”

I don’t give a fuck about being “PC” or pandering to the masses for the moment. I’m sick of it. I’m falling the fuck apart. I’m NOT okay.

“Put on a brave face, Kelly.”

“If anyone can do this, Kelly, you can. You’re strong enough.”

“You are so strong. You have to do this for the kids.”

STOP telling me what to do and how to do it. I have so little control over what happens right now that it’s gut-wrenching.

One of the fallacies in being from a town named Niceville is that everyone suddenly knows your business and wants to know why your spouse of 9 years, with whom you have two beautiful children, and in a relationship with for 12 years, would leave you. They phrase the question in a way that implicates that I MUST be somehow at fault. How could I not?

The other disadvantage to living our lives the way that we do right now, in the digital age, is that it is lonelier than ever to go through a traumatic event like this. Tonight, I’d been with my children all day, dealt with their daily acting out and drama and was about to blow my top.  So, here I sit at a Starbucks close to my house, listening to angry music and writing this. And doing some light people-watching. (Psst: Wednesday nights aren’t that exciting.)

As I stated above, I’m 32: I’ve been with the same man since I was 20 years old. I don’t know how the hell to live my life without him! Shit, we met my junior year of college and I just never looked back. We used to celebrate our monthly anniversaries – and our 12 year is just around the corner, on March 26th, 2017.

“You’re so gorgeous. You can get anyone you want.”

That’s not the point. That’s not what I want.

I want to feel okay. I want to BE okay.

I’ve never, ever been a codependent person. But I believe(d) in my marriage and trying to make it work and sticking it out.

I let myself fall completely and totally in love with him at that young age; so much so that it hurt. We dated and lived together for three years before we were married. We had our first child soon after. Four years later, we moved to a bigger house and had another child. After I had Jackson, I went back to work full-time at the bank when he was only 10 weeks old. Two and a half years later, after speaking with my spouse about our finances and hectic schedules, he and I decided that I would quit work full-time to stay at home with the children to cut the costs of daycare and thus, eliminate the lack of disposable income.

That’s when things really began to take a turn for the worst. I was no longer bringing in a second income, so my spending had to drastically change.

I never felt like I was doing the right thing with the kids or with myself; I was constantly second-guessing myself and how I was doing raising the kids. It was a time full of uncertainty, self-doubt, and, yes, on some days, self-loathing. I am not impervious to emotion. I am not impervious to suffering.

Here’s where I’m at right now: I don’t know who I am yet.

It’s not about the destination, but the journey, the battle, the struggle, and the ultimate rise in your self-confidence and learning how to trust again. I don’t know when that will be for me or how it will ultimately go, but I know that I need to have faith. Though shaky, it’s there. I do have faith.

 

I also want you to know that the reason I’m being THIS candid and THIS transparent about what I’m going through is for those of you who might be suffering as well. This is for those of you who feel alone, abandoned, hopeless, and have a bottomless pit full of suffering.

I’ve become defensive and perpetually angry; and, you know what? If I am bitter for a while, then so be it. I don’t give a shit. Why do I HAVE to rise above? What IS it with our culture these days that tells us that we aren’t allowed to have a bad day or a bad time and just be bad at life? That’s the kind of shit that leads to hoarding, drug use, and all kinds of other unhealthy manifestations of unhealthy behavior. Because what the hell else are we supposed to do? No one likes to listen to someone who’s going through a hard time. No one wants to be around it. So, then, inevitably, the person adopts a coping mechanism.

My soon-to-be-ex is not sad about the divorce. He’s the one who initiated, so apparently that means that I’m the only half of the marriage that feels like hurling themselves off of a building while he’s absolutely fine. I never knew that that was a thing. That that was possible; even if you’re the one initiating, shouldn’t you sort of mourn what you once had? All the years spent together, the experiences?

I’m sick to DEATH of the facades and the personas we all create and put-on as we face the internet world. It’s not true and it’s unfair. So, let’s say that someone like me reads an upbeat, happy-go-lucky, go-getter article from a woman who’s in a similar situation: it will crush that someone. It will make them feel even more like a failure.

I read article after article after article about how these “perfect” social media faces lead to depression; so, here I am, being as transparent as I can be in order to offset some of that. I always end up taking a lot of flak for telling it like it is, for saying that I am sad, that I’m destroyed, and am told to “SMILE!” and I’m told, “It will get better!” and “Kelly, stop being so negative.”

So, I personally feel (and know) that it’s more helpful to read something where someone’s honest. It’s more helpful to hear about how someone’s struggling and that they are, in fact, sad, rather than read an article about how a woman in my situation is doing great, rising above her daily minutiae, unaffected by her impending divorce, and that she’s simultaneously crocheting her entire family personalized pillows while pan-frying salmon for dinner. And then she posts a flawless “selfie” where she’s wearing a monogrammed shirt and holding a glass of pinot grigio.

And I’m cleaning pee off the bathroom floor, yelling at everyone in the house to “settle down!” And the ever-popular, “Don’t you make me come in there!” while I wipe sweat from my forehead, my heart pounding out of my chest, the dog barking at a random solicitor that she can see out of the side window.

And in between cleaning up pee and quelling arguments between my kids, I’m making them snack after snack after snack, attempting to clean the kitchen, and search for full-time jobs.

THAT is reality.

Kelly Fitzharris (Coody)

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