Three years ago I gave up my work as a school counselor to focus on writing full-time. I had always written in German. Now I was starting out as a writer in the English language; I wanted to make writing my profession and become a published writer. In Poets and Writers, I found a call for submissions by universaltable.org. I submitted "A Visit to Germany" and a few days later I received an e-mail that my text was accepted. I submitted five more works to the Wising Up web and print anthologies; all these texts were also accepted.
It was a very important confirmation for me as a budding writer. I was encouraged to submit, something I hadn't experienced before. Many editors treat writers as if they have a contagious disease; they fail to respond, or take half a year to do so. The Wising Up Press, on the other hand, treated me with respect. Heather answered my e-mails. I like your take on life, she wrote. I had found two dedicated individuals, Heather and Charles, with more than a love for literature. They were kindred spirits who gave my stories a caring home. I understood their vision, and they accepted mine. When they invited me to the writers collective, I joined without hesitation. The idea appealed to me for several reasons: I have always been a leftist; I've lived and worked in collectives; I've seen them work, andI have confidence in them. The Wising Up Press has the courage to deal with controversial or often neglected subjects. It honors the life experiences of its contributors and gives voice to those we rarely hear from.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the new reunited Germany experienced a resurgence of violence against foreigners. I helped train teachers and social workers in violence prevention, mediation, and anti-racist strategy. The work that I've done - giving teachers the tools to deal with difficult situations, 18 years of counseling youth, preventing teenage suicide, working with the sexually abused and the depressed - has more value to society than my writing,but writing is what I am passionate about.
The stories, poems, essays, and photography found in the Wising Up anthologies are not about the (unfortunately all too common) narcissistic self-expression of the artist. More often they narrate our suffering and resilience, life-changing human encounters and the difference we have made in the lives of others. It is the experience and humanity we bring to the universal table.
I do not want to force myself into the literary market, where agents react with initial enthusiasm to then find themselves "not quite in love with the book the way they had expected." I translate this to "Your writing doesn't have enough potential for commercial success." I do not wish to compromise my vision and my artistic integrity. I need to be allowed to be myself on the page. The Wising Up Press has given me the privilege to create work without having to worry about the market. I'm looking forward to publishing my book with them.