Not to brag or anything, but the first fish I ever caught was pretty big. A “boca grande,” my father called it. He had baited the hook for me and taught me how to cast the line, then left me sitting on the side of the pond with instructions to be very quiet and very patient while he wandered over to check his other lines. I sat for a long time there on that patch of grass by the pond. A couple of times I thought I saw the tip of the pole jerk down, but then it was still again and I thought I’d only imagined the movement. At times it looked like the nylon string was moving through the water, too, but I knew it was only an optical illusion caused by little waves. I watched with a bit of jealousy as my father caught several fish and admired how calm he was as he reeled them in and scooped them up with his net when they reached the shore. Finally, just as I was beginning to think that I would never catch a fish, I felt a definitive YANK on the line that nearly pulled the whole rod out of my hands. My heart stopped and I was on my feet in an instant, trying to reel that thing in like crazy and forgetting all the advice about going slowly and tiring the fish out. I was so excited! I had already reeled in quite a bit of line and could see the fish splashing around in the water about ten feet out when the reel got stuck and wouldn’t budge. My dad noticed the commotion and started heading toward me to help, but I was determined to get that fish out myself, so I took hold of the line itself and started running away from the shore, up the hill toward the railroad tracks that ran behind the pond. I pulled so hard that the line cut into my fingers, and my dad was laughing at me the whole time, but you know what? I pulled that darn fish out. Once I was sure it was securely on land, I ran back down the hill to admire it. I was so proud of myself, but the best feeling of all was knowing that my dad was even prouder.
These days I don’t go fishing very often. I have my own pole and tackle box, but the last time I went out to the lake the girls were still little. It’s been a while. Kinda breaks my heart to bait the hook with an innocent worm and then cause some random fish’s demise for no good reason, but even more painful than that is the thought of sitting out there for hours and getting nothing but nibbles. Either way, I think I’m just about done with fishing. At least in the traditional sense.
This new kind of fishing, though, is something I can get behind. I have a grand total of four completed pieces (all personal essays) being considered for publication in fifteen different journals. Five submissions are currently showing as “in progress” on Submittable, including the two I had mentioned in a previous post, which have now held that status for over a month. I started submitting essays on November 3 and have received three rejections so far. That’s in addition to the two rejections I received for an old short story I submitted back in June–but I was just testing the waters back then. I like to think my bait’s a little better now.
I’m trying to stick to a schedule of submitting at least one essay each week, while keeping each essay alive in no more than five different journals. And, of course, I’ve been working on new essays to add to the mix. I guess my hope is that, as long as all of my essays are still “being considered,” then I won’t lose hope. But I must admit I am starting to get a tiny bit antsy these days. I know rejection is just a part of the process. I know I shouldn’t take it personally. I know it doesn’t necessarily mean I suck. But I do really, really want to feel that bite on the line, man. A good, strong one, too. One that will stop my heart for just a split second.