I knew a site that had previously published my work was compiling a new issue the theme of which would make it a suitable place for my piece when done, so I had been in contact with the editor, who encouraged me to send it on - which I did promptly on the 19th. I expected something back, by way of, "I have received the essay - will not get to look at it for a while (or will)" and so forth. I queried once or twice, but nothing save silence answered me.
On the 3rd I heard back. "The piece is much much much too long for us" I was told (or words to that effect), "but I have edited it down a bit - tell us what you think."
The tenor was changed, and after some thinking and soul-searching I wrote back, "I've decided to put the original up on my site; if you'd like to use the shortened version you are welcome to provided you reference the original" (or words to that effect). To that the reply: We would, if you hold off on your posting until we publish.
"Fair enough," I said: "Please tell me when you expect that to be."
In no case was my intention to rush the editor, but I wanted information, especially upon which to base my decision. Will I be waiting two days, or two months, I naturally wondered. But again my query was returned with silence. So I've just decided to post my essay, Claude McKay Walks in Ferguson.
The reasons are manifold. For one thing, I don't want to be up at midnight thinking of this stuff while Claude McKay's ghost hovers around me. Waiting on other people - in the literary world - has led to nothing but disappointment. I've always, in the end, had to make do with lumbering along alone anyhow: there is nothing to be gained (for the artist) by perpetual hemming and hawing, postponing and perseverating. One is reminded - bluntly - of the nature of so many of my fellow Americans (for example) who feel that the only proper time to protest a war is after it's started. I've written, at length, of my efforts to get Against Holy War produced, in an essay you can find here.
In that same essay - if memory serves me well - I went into laborious detail about the plays submission process in general. Almost without exception, the rule was never to hear anything back. (At least an SASE with a few poems would always get a return if not a response, but dramatic manuscripts never did: perhaps the stamps were donated to the non-profit enterprise.)
One expects, as a poet, to be greeted with the world's silence. There is no groundswell longing to hear about my relationship with and having been influenced by the poet Claude McKay, even as there was no groundswell against the US invasion of Iraq. The theatrical community of Chicago showed itself, in effect, pro-war; but there is no reason why, confronted by the silence or the indifference of the masses, the poet or artist should not just continue along his merry way. Equally so in response to an individual that will not answer questions. That is not to say people don't have their good reasons - surely they do - and, in reference to McKay mentioned in the piece, I am in nowise careless of burning bridges that lie before me.
But I am yearning to sleep, and troubled by McKay's ghost. He has spoken to our times, and it hardly matters that folks have other pressing matters to attend to.