I’m having trouble attracting professional attention for any of my books, and the reason, I have come to realize, is that I’m a two-hundred-year-old white lady. Jane Austen couldn’t pierce this market with a sharpened quill.

Agents and publishers know what they want, and I don’t have it. And they know who they want, and I ain’t it. They’ll tell you right up front. They want fantasy/SF, SF/F MA, Contemporary, horror, YA, Crossover. And it should be about and by BIPOC, Latino/a/x, people with disabilities, neurodivergent, underrepresented, Multiracial/Multicultural, LGBTQQIP2SAA+, Inclusive, Marginalized.

Well, as a two hundred year old white lady, I’ve got your marginalized right here. If I were going to be any more marginalized in the modern publishing world, I’d have to have a penis. My own, not just a loaner.

Which is fine and good and overdue, but by the time anyone wants to hear what I have to say again, I will be Post-Humus.

I may be a writer-of-seasoning at the peak of my powers with plenty of books still in me, but I know better than to divulge my rung on the mortality ladder to a prospective agent. And it doesn’t matter how young I feel on the inside, the world is eager to set me straight. The other day I overheard someone tell her friend, “I’m old enough to remember when instagram was trying to be snapchat.”

Well, slap me with an antimacassar. Honey? You’re twelve years old. And it’s high time I retired to my wicker chair with a quilt pieced out of old skirts and a hob on the fire. The world will get along without me, and if I’m lucky maybe someone will be by to spoon in some creamed peas.

I get emails from a site that tells me specifically what publications and agents are looking for. This is enormously helpful on those few occasions I know what they’re talking about. Why, here’s a press looking for “stories of massive engineering megastructures that reshape stellar systems.” It’s not a good sign that my first reaction to this was that referring to a megastructure as massive was redundant. Pipe down, Priscilla.

Here’s a “speculative poetry magazine” looking for pieces on the Fungi theme, particularly cli-fi, body horror, and fabulism from marginalized voices. Well, there’s no better way for a poet to remain marginalized than by being paid their four cents a word, or an average of a half-dollar per haiku. But wait! I think I do write cli-fi! Unless that means Clitoral Fixation. Well, I can work with that too.

At least I know what a haiku is. That’s not enough anymore. Observe:

“The competition is open to all forms of narrative prose, be that flash fiction, short-short, vignette, haibun, hermit crab, prose poem or work that sits outside such labels.” One: doesn’t that mean everything? Two: huh? Haibun? Hermit crab? I looked it up.

I am led to understand that Carolyn Kizer’s “A Month in Summer” is an example of an extended haibun with 21 haiku and one tanka. And, I hope, poppy seeds. And a hermit crab is a bit of writing inside the shell of another sort of writing, like maybe a polemic written in the form of a grocery list. I might be moved to pen a lyrical death threat in the shell of an obituary, unless that’s a little too on the nose.

Onward. Do I write splatterpunk? Hopepunk? Solarpunk?

I don’t know. I do know I can just scroll on by if an agent is looking for “Christian, spirituality, and self-help.” Because a lot of times, especially when it comes to blasphemy, I just can’t help myself.

So I just need to adjust my output to the demands of the publishing world. Did you know there is a genre called “cashier memoir,” and somebody wants it? There is. It’s just what it sounds like. I don’t even write “bagger memoir.”