Rendered Fat Content


Artemisia Gentileschi: Judith and Maidservant with Head of Holofernes (1608)

" … just so much spit in an indifferent wind."

Half of the people I'd Bcc-ed on the manuscript submission email found that message in their spam filter, so it seemed a reasonable assumption, a fifty/fifty proposition, that the publisher's spam filter had also snagged my missive. I explained yesterday how hesitant I felt about calling to confirm receipt, wanting to avoid appearing pushy, but after further goading from my supportive community, I took the chance and quickly confirmed that the publisher had, indeed, received the thing and was warmly anticipating reviewing what I'd submitted. In that moment, a line of communication manifested, its first message comforted more than I can describe. The manuscript had survived another passage from source to out there and it had found another interested reader. The publisher, too busy to review the damned thing yet, warmly anticipated reviewing it. He promised to get back to me just as soon as he's finished his perusal. That should be soon. The Blind Men was submitted and accepted in the same week. This one, accepted or rejected, should prove little different.

The often lengthy periods between submission and ComFormation hold no substance.
They feel like formless black hole days wherein my imagination runs rampant. Until some confirmation appears, the work remains suspended in a purgatory-like state, a Schrödinger's manuscript. It seems as if, after all the effort preparing it for market, it just disappears for a bit. The longer the delay before ComFormation, the greater the sense of displacement. Neither here nor there, the manuscript isn't anywhere then, it's history just as irrelevant as its future until some channel of communication emerges. The vacuous nature of this delay space hardly encourages any sense of closure over the accomplishment, which exists as an Is That All It Was? experience. Send in the clowns. I thought there would at least be clowns!

As a writer and a social media poster, I should be accustomed to the unconfirmed communication. I just cast most of my writing into an indifferent-seeming wind. It's always first a single directional communication. ComFormation's never guaranteed or even properly requested. It's understood, or certainly should be, that any feedback's more choice than obligation, and furthermore, that every potential receiver attempts to read messages while standing in the middle of a spinning whirlwind of messages and postings. They're lucky if they can manage a coherent glimpse, let along any actual thought or response. A simple
like might prove more than most can muster in any moment, so I collect the smattering of likes and comments as if they were a flood of responses, for, given the conditions, they most probably represent that. Once I receive a like or a comment, another ComFormation's started, and I might respond in kind, if the swirling whirlwind on my side allows that much attention in that moment. We interact while standing in the middle of hurricanes.

After decades of posting, I have threads stretching many times around the world. Most have not been tested or used in years, but they're still existent. Many, though, are long-expired emails. Some came in forms no longer supported. We've all built our houses upon somebody else's property. A board decision in Cupertino or Palo Alto might devastate entire relationships with no remorse or recourse. Even emails often fail to nudge through the filters, like my submission email stuck in half of its addressee's defenses. Back when the internet was young and full of hope, a friend of mine started an email trope, sending
Emeals to her friends every morning. We warmly received these, for she'd favor the bright and positive, the clever and appreciative. I saved them into an archive I rarely reopen, but I find it reassuring that they're still there. She succumbed to the rampant Silicon Valley pancreatic cancer hotspot that got Steve Jobs and many others before the World Wide Web became entangled in conspiracy theories. She lived in a more innocent time when one could send an email with certainty that it would arrive and few had learned to abuse that privilege yet.

I believe that we're still aching for connections, even now when we've managed to accumulate hundreds of so-called followers. We don't so much want to be followed around, but to occasionally receive some confirming sound. It's not enough to blindly post and assume message received. It's critically important that we each show the care required to pass on hopeful memes rather than desperate or demeaning ones, to keep our ComFormation just as positive as possible. It might be that each actually does represent a meal of sorts, that they're meant to be consumed and nourish, not threaten or poison. Even more important than the content, though, is the simple channel, open and confirmed. That quick tweak that tells us that our message was received, even if it offers no clarifying details or appreciations, that might be the purpose of the World Wide Web. When you say you received it, I know for sure I sent it. Until then, it's just so much spit in an indifferent wind.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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