Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day used to be an all day trip to the cemeteries. Most family plots held everyone since families still lived close to one another as opposed to moving far away. Also almost everyone had a soldier from some war buried near home. Picnic lunches were packed, hoes for weeding and new flowers for planting were loaded. I remember my grandmother-in-law telling about the hired hands going along to help in the South. It was a day of meeting, catching up on stories, of exchanging gossip.

DH went to small rural school. The building was closed in 1967 for consolidation. But the community has worked hard to keep that old building in one piece and operational for local events. There is an all school reunion held there every Memorial Day weekend assuming folks are about doing cemeteries by day. Last night we drove over to attend. Now the tables are not packed so closely together as they once were. We give uncomfortable laughs that we are moving closer to the front of the gym each year. With no new classes, the room shrinks with each year’s losses. This year one woman at the first table had graduated 76 years ago! The gathering is a dying breed of people. These folks are independent farmers, dressed in their best jeans and plaid shirts for the occasion. Tan lines across their foreheads shine on one of the few occasions they leave their caps at home. The night starts with the Pledge of Allegiance and closes with singing God Bless America.

Today the rain continues here. Slow and steady, nice if it had not done it most of May. I lounged about, reading and writing letters. I got another rejection this afternoon which makes it official: everything but a piece of fiction I sent out in the winter has returned home like  carrier pigeons! So I must either give up or dig back in finding new markets.

When I started writing, publishing was still “old style” in that I submitted and was either rejected or published for money. Now the developments are that writers other than staff writers or powerhouse novelists either write for free or publish their own work. Now it costs to put your work out there. Entry fees to contests are large enough to buy a nice steak. Some magazines now even charge just to read your work!  If you are published, often your pay is a copy of the publication or graciously being allowed to buy one at reduced prices. Ah, but Walmart will not accept that in trade for milk and bread!

I know change is the operative word in this world, but I am an old-fashioned gal. I long for the old traditions of Decoration Day, for editors like Maxwell Perkins, to see publications with short fiction, and writers like Cather, Hemingway, and Sinclair Lewis. If you are snickering at my folly, just consider the source!

Have a good Memorial Day and be grateful to our veterans. 


Elephant's Child said...

I am so sorry that you have met with rejections - but please don't give up. I love your way with words, and hope that someday I will see more of it than your blog posts.

Linda O'Connell said...

Your post was a blast from the past. I remember my dad going to a rural burial plot on Decoration Day to visit relatives' graves.

I feel the same way about the writing industry. Markets are shrinking and more space is being reserved in publications for advertising. Still, I plod on. Wishing you success in placing your work.

Sioux said...

Claudia--I remember well going with the family to cemeteries on this holiday to decorate the burial plots.

Keep the flames of your nostalgia burning. Once our memories are gone, they're gone forever... unless we write about them.

BECKY said...

Claudia, I agree about the "old days!" I was at a small town (Greenfield, Iowa) Decoration Day ceremony a few years ago and it was very powerful! Plus, there were crosses for deceased family members. Please don't give up on your writing!! I agree with Elephant's Child! You have a remarkable way with words and I envy you for your talent. Wish you were here (again!) and that we could sit and chat for days and days! :)

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

First, try not to be too discouraged with those rejections. I've had rejections that I've resubmitted turn out to be published anyway. This is such a subjective business!

The cemetery gatherings you mention I do remember, though nothing so extensive in my experience. And now, being scattered to the four corners, we've lost the ability to do more than say prayers of remembrance.

Patricia A. Laster said...

Though we lived close by the area cemetery, we never participated in Decoration Day. Now that there are5 different family plots there--and I live the closest--I go occasionally and change out the flowers. Saturday before this Memorial Day, I walked there carrying a big sack of new flowers, some old ones, filler, and my wire pliers. It was about noon. Being a trustee, I was amazed (appalled?) that the place had not been mowed. I pulled weeds and placed fresh (silk, but fresh in color) stems. After I'd huffed and puffed back up the hill after an hour and a half, I called another trustee and he mowed that afternoon.
Re writing, turn those mss around with a new envelope, stamp, address and send them out again. Persistence pays (pun intended) in publication, but not always in $$. Wish I lived close enough to visit, too.