I'm thrilled to announce that Vol. 1 Brooklyn has published my essay "Pollyanna Problems: On Katharine Butler Hathaway's The Little Locksmith and the Pitfalls of Excessive Optimism."
My mother gave me The Little Locksmith for Christmas, 2016. She had heard of it through an essay that her book group had read and thought I might like it. I did, very much. Once I started writing about Hathaway's memoir, I decided I needed to read from her letters and journals, too. Goodness, it's amazing how many of her thoughts make me think "yes! Kindred spirit! That's just what it's like. How amazing that you knew in the 40s what I just noticed last year!" Mom made a good match.
I wrote the essay without limits of any kind, and the first draft, from this past July, was very long--like 10,000 words. My mother loved it and couldn't put it down. But editors were less interested. It took four different literary websites, at least three significantly revised drafts, and approximately seven months--starting the clock after I had written the piece--before "Pollyanna Problems" found its home. All this goes to show that writing and publishing essays is difficult! But once I had cut the piece to 4,000 words, I wasn't going back. I would keep trying until that essay got published.
Every once in a while, revising, I would find a typo or that I had spelled "Katharine" as "Katherine" or gotten a date wrong. This humbled, consoled, and frustrated me. "Thank goodness the essay wasn't published right away, since if it had been, the world would have seen my mistakes!" That's a Pollyanna-ism right there, but it's also a warning against feelings of entitlement, a reminder to spend more time polishing one's work and less time complaining, silently or aloud, that people don't see its brilliance.