I was going to wait until October 1st to post this, because technically that’s when the new issue of Diabetes Forecast magazine comes out. But my dad and his scanner already have a copy, so without further ado:
Check out this magazine page with my byline on it!
This is the first time I’ve ever been published in a magazine. It’s also the first time I’ve ever tried to get published in a magazine. So I’m one-for-one and feeling pretty good about my record right now, although, that said, there are a lot of reasons why this doesn’t even count as a career move.
First, the “Reflections” section of Diabetes Forecast is open to submissions from anyone with a personal story to tell about diabetes. This gives little credit to my qualifications as a writer; I’m qualified simply because I share genes with a type-1 diabetic. Second, although I was ecstatic when I got the first email from the submissions editor saying she wanted to push my story through, the editing process itself was almost painful. I can tell, reading the article back in its final form (to which I did give my okay before it went to press), how heavily my words were edited. Maybe my friends and family can’t, and I know the majority of the magazine’s readers will never know the difference, but… “just as my brother had fought his diabetes on the football field”?! Come on.
I know my story had to conform to the magazine’s style. And I know my message had to be simplified and spelled-out to get through to the masses. And I don’t want to sound ungrateful – I am, actually, really, really grateful to have my first-ever portfolio clip, even if it is a little cheesy.
No, the part that I’m most concerned about, and the real reason I’m posting about this here, is the byline/bio at the end.
See, when the submissions editor asked for my work/education/family information, I gave her a ton of little factoids: I’m 28, graduated from UCSB with a degree in Creative Writing and French, work at the grocery store, am the oldest of three, live with my boyfriend and a bunch of rabbits, am currently working on this blog/project… “And,” I concluded, “I would love it if you ended it with some variation of, ‘Marie plans to ride in the Tour de Cure again next year, and this time will attempt the 50-mile course… Maybe.'” Because, see, I’m also clever, and kind of funny.
I also happened to mention, because at the time I thought it was providential, that she had contacted me during the one week out of the year when I volunteer at a day camp for diabetic kids. So when she sent that final draft, with my bio as, “Marie lives in San Diego and volunteers at ADA Diabetes Camp Wana Kura,” I figured she’d chosen the most relevant piece of information about me for inclusion in the ADA’s magazine.
Then I went and looked at a few back issues of Forecast, and took note of the bios of their “Reflections” authors:
Jeanna is a high school teacher and licensed social worker in Silver Creek, Miss. She and her husband, Greg, have two children, Hugh and Sarah.
Faith lives in Morgantown, W.Va., with her husband, Arthur, and their two children.
Mary is the mother of six children, three of whom have type 1 diabetes. This story is adapted from her book, Reflections on Childhood Diabetes.
John retired from the Marine Corps in 2003 as a lieutenant colonel. He now resides in Hilton Head, S.C., where he is pursuing a writing career.
Ronda lives with her husband, Bill, in Des Moines. Now retired, they enjoy ballroom dancing.
You get the idea. With the exception of Faith, all these authors got two sentences to describe them. Spouses and children are mentioned. Careers, current or hoped-for, and hobbies are highlighted. And then there’s me.
With all the information I gave this editor, was my daily life still not good enough for publication? Do my job, my boyfriend, my pets, my bilingual-ness, and this very blog have no merit? Do the four days out of the year that I work at camp outweigh everything else in my life?
This is over-dramatic, I know. But I feel like maybe my message has to be simplified and spelled-out to get through to the masses.
After all the work I’ve done here to convince myself that my career-less, marriage-less, baby-less life is okay for me for now, the implications of this byline come as a slap in the face and feel like a step in the wrong direction. It puts me in what-if mode. What if I’d stayed married, or married Doug already? What if I hadn’t turned down a good position at my dad’s company in favor of working at the grocery store? What if my pregnancy had been viable?
Marie lives in San Diego with her husband and 18-month-old baby. She is a tech editor, and volunteers at ADA Diabetes Camp Wana Kura.
See, now it sounds like I’m worth bragging about. Even the camp thing holds new weight: she’s a wife/mother/career-woman and she volunteers too?! Of course, this bio is a lie, whereas the short, starved bio I actually got is acting more as a polite omission. It translates roughly to, “If you can’t say something nice…”