Some people blog. Some people write. Alysa Salzberg does both. A writerly blogger and lover of the written word, she edits a literary ezine called Beguile and writes a personal blog at OpenSalon. Check out her out-of-the-box Blogger Space below.
I’ve been writing stories since I first learned how to read and write. And pretty much since I first put a big pencil into my little hands, I’ve wanted to be a published author. When I got to New York years later, I took a manuscript I’d written to different publishing houses, pretending to be a messenger. Despite what I’d expected to gain from this, I got no insight from the experience, and soon found that not only I, but a majority of writers I knew or met had our work rejected time and again by publishing houses and other places.
I learned, though, that some people did get ahead, sometimes by genuine talent, but sometimes, too, because of their connections. From that time, a seed was planted. I dreamt of creating my own literary publication that would honor writers and visual artists who truly enchanted me, and whose work I wanted to share with the world. Ten years later, in August 2010, that dream came true, when I started Beguile, my literary e-zine.
Our motto is: “Never stop trying to outwit your jailors” – that is, never give in to those who tell you, in one way or another, that your work can’t grow, that it’s not worth anything. Instead, just keep dreaming and creating art. We accept submissions from writers and artists of all genres and forms.
There isn’t a specific place where I put together issues of Beguile. I work with a group of readers so that every submission is voted on, thus eliminating the risk of nepotism taking over. But we don’t have an office or a particular meeting site. I just bring my laptop where I need to go – and most of the time it’s wherever I feel like sitting in my apartment.
Different days bring different rhythms and wants. Sometimes I feel peppy and professional, and so I move to the kitchen table. Sometimes the cat wants to sit on my lap, so to the couch I and my computer and the cat go. The important thing for me isn’t where, but what. Whether I’m putting together the latest issue of Beguile, writing fiction, or blogging on Open Salon, I have to feel right about what I’m doing, and then everything around me fades, and I see only the words and images on the screen in front of me. And that’s why I chose this picture, Beguile’s first issue, to represent my blogging space.
earlier posts. Keeping my angry son in the house became untenable–but living with his absence this past year has been excruciating, beyond description. It has been a lose-lose situation.
Below is the first of many letters I wrote to Luca, but never sent. I got the idea to chronicle my attempts to see him, our strained, sometimes good visits, and mostly, my thoughts about him and the unfortunate shakedown of the divorce. I didn’t–and still don’t–know if I would ever show him the letters, but I wanted to commit to record that I have never stopped thinking about him or loving him. Not for a moment. I wanted the possibility of proving to him that I didn’t forget him, that I didn’t stop wishing he were with me.
The process of writing the letters led to the birth of Perils of Divorced Pauline. I realized that my original idea had grown too big for itself, too big for Luca or for me, and demanded to be a blog.
The letter below was written for Luca, but, I believe, speaks to all children and parents impacted needlessly and senselessly by high-conflict divorce.
June 22, 2010
It was ten days ago that Atticus took you to Dad’s—ten days since I have seen you, except for briefly at your sixth grade graduation last Thursday.
If I could have spoken to you at your graduation, I would have told you how awed I was by your solo. You sang beautifully–strong and clear. You seemed to take pride in your voice and you “owned” your solo. I was surprised, because I don’t often hear you sing. Witnessing your talent introduced me to a part of you I didn’t know existed. I was so proud of you.
You walked by me sitting on the bleachers and asked me why I was crying. I didn’t answer or look at you because I had promised to stay out of your space. Also, you seemed angry and I knew anything I said would likely make you angrier.
I was crying for two reasons. First, I was sad beyond words that you had to leave my house. Since your dad and I split up seven years ago, I was afraid this day—the day that you went to live with your dad–would come. I did everything I could to stave it off, but I couldn’t. For years you have wanted to be with your dad—maybe things had to get bad enough so there would be no other option. But I cried because it is painful beyond words to lose you.
Second, I watched you at the front of the stage, so handsome in your suit pants, your collared shirt and tie. I saw a young person in transition. No longer quite a boy, not yet a man. In a couple weeks, you will turn 13, and your childhood years will be behind you. What made me cry was the realization that the bulk of those years has been lost to the awful conflict between your dad and me. I cried for the loss of your childhood, and for the fact that I couldn’t protect you from the conflict.
You are very angry with me now. You are not quite 13, so it is impossible for you to understand the complexities of our family dynamic. No almost-13-year-old could understand—it is hard enough for adults. I hope that one day, when you’re older, you will start to see shades of gray. I hope you will see that there isn’t one Good Parent and one Bad Parent, but two very human, very fallible parents who each thought they were doing the best thing for you and who made mistakes along the way.
I feel your absence every day. It is strange, and wrenching, to walk by your room, so neat and empty without you. I keep thinking one day I will walk by and you will be sitting on your bed doing card tricks or tinkering with a widget, or hanging out with your friends from the neighborhood, Matthew and Diego.
The corn vendor honks his horn as he pedals by…but you’re not here to run down the sidewalk after him. Law and Order SVU plays at 10 p.m. on TV…but you’re not on the family room couch watching it. Did we ever finish watching The Blind Side together? You loved that movie, said it was the best you’d ever seen, and asked me to watch it with you.
Maybe one day we’ll watch it all the way through together.
Blogger Space is a continuing series devoted to showcasing the places bloggers choose to write. Want to show off your digs? Send a link to your blog, photo of your space, and a blurb explaining why you write where you do to email@example.com.