Thank you for your submission

by OneTrancePony

Tags: #cw:noncon #D/s #dom:female #sub:male

It wasn’t enough to be a great writer. Daniel needed to be read, but the rejections keep coming. A mentor from his past has a solution, but it may cost him dearly.

Hi, Daniel, the email began. Then, of course: Thank you for your submission.

All rejections begin have that fucking sentence.

Writing is hard. Writing well is fucking hard. Writing from deep down in your soul, baring the shit you’ve done and that’s been done to you, revealing truths about humanity, that’s really goddamned fucking hard.

And what comes of it? Thank you for your submission.

A 450-page manuscript takes months, maybe years, to just figure out. Even when you know the story, there’s a year of writing just to get the first draft. A year of re-writing.

And after 50 times of Thank you for your submission, I’m done in. Four years of regular college before my MFA, major writing conferences around the country, sleeping on friend’s sofas in strange cities just so I can afford to go.

I wanted to get drunk. I try not to, I don’t want to be the cliched alcoholic writer, the Hemingway who writes one damn good paragraph in the morning and spends the rest of the day brooding over a bottle or his best friend’s wife.

The text shook me out of my thoughts.

Heard from a friend that they had to reject your MS. Dinner?

Ivy. I used to think of her as Dr. Walden, until she told me one day she hated being called “Dr” and that everyone made jokes about “Walden teaching at the pond again?” Like most really good professors, she wanted to be called by her first name, especially when her favorite students were around.

And she hadn’t been seen for months. Not vanished, “reclusive,” some said. “Working on her masterpiece,” others said.

I had no idea and wasn’t ashamed to say so.

Of course, I wrote back. Ivy had been my mentor and rock. When & where?

Grab your coat. I’m across the street from your building.

That was strange. Ivy was a very deliberate person, a planner, not super-spontaneous. She had once said that was one of her weaknesses in writing. She wanted to stick to a plan. Characters and stories tend to meander into their own directions. Herding them is like training cats to fetch.

She was too good to rely on an old cliche. “Change it up,” she’d taught us, “Get them ready for the usual tired line and throw them a zinger. I don’t care if it’s comedy or horror or some goddamn romance bullshit, just lure them in and smack them across the face.”

When she said that, during a class a couple years ago, she walked up to one of the guys staring intently at her. It could easily have been me. She lifted his chin with her index finger, and he stared up at her, transfixed.

Then she slapped him. Not hard, but hard enough we all jumped. Except for the guy who got slapped.

I swear he melted.

Ivy was known for making use of her students outside the regular curriculum.

I took the elevator downstairs and ran through the drizzle across the street. She was in her old SUV. When I got in there was a vape pen on the console between us.

“Hello Daniel,” she said.

She looked at the vape pen.

“Take a hit.”

“I don’t-“

“Take a hit.”

Cannabis. I used to do a lot. This was strong.

She looked over, her face a little sad.

“You can do better than that.”

I took a deeper hit. It made me cough, but by the time she’d pulled into traffic I was feeling the effects.

“Three times,” she said.

I was obviously a little light-headed for her convoluted start-in-the-middle style of conversation.

“You want me to take another-“

“No, silly, this is your third novel. The third time my friend has called me and said he felt really bad about having to reject you.”

I stared through the windshield.

“Maybe I’m just no good,” I said.

“Don’t give me that self-pitying bullshit. If you wrote some idiotic romance about a woman tempted by her vampire love-interest, tossed in enough sex to get the vibrators going but not be banned in Texas, maybe added a nice-guy next door whose heart she breaks when she offers her ‘pale, long neck’ to her true master’s fangs, you’d have gotten published in your first try.”

I kept staring.

“And that has it’s place, of course. I love a good clit-rub myself. But I didn’t bring you into my inner circle to write shit, and you don’t write shit.”

“You don’t know that,” I said. “You haven’t seen all the rejections. Hell, you won’t read my books. ‘I’ve graduated,’ you say, and you tell me to do what I need to do.”

“I’ve read every one of them.”

It hits me like the time she slapped the student. My head flings around and I stare at her neutral face as she weaves through the traffic. And I melt a little, but recoil at those feelings.

“You’ve gotten good. And you are so expert at weaving your own past into the pasts of your characters. I love how they all die in the end. Useless, tragic deaths.”

“I-“

“You know we’re not going to dinner.”

I looked at the dashboard clock. It was already 10:30. I forget to eat often, especially when I’m writing. Or rejected.

“I’m going to give you my final lesson,” she said. “I’m going to teach you how to write about that one thing you’ve never admitted. To me, at least. Probably not to yourself.”

“What’s that?”

“Your sexuality.”

I realized I was about to become one of her extracurricular activities.

“No,” she said, seeing my expression, “We aren’t going to fuck.”

She paused.

“Well, maybe not. We might, eventually. If you learn the lesson well enough.”

I watched the wipers in their futile quest to clear the drizzle from the windshield. 

I felt like I was back in a desk in her classroom, back on a chair or on the sofa in her office. The inner circle.

The slap.

Yes, we all flinched while the guy melted, but I think we all melted a little ourselves. She’d done  something like that — with more subtly — to each of us a thousand times before. Sometimes with just a stare, a raised eyebrow, a hand going to her hip as she looked down at you. I pushed those thoughts out of my mind. They led to places I don’t want to go.

We pulled up to her house. I’d been here several times before. She parked in the drive and got out. I just followed.

We went in and I started to turn to her office, where she met with students, but she turned in a different direction. At the end was a door. She used one key to unlock the knob. Another key for the deadbolt. She walked in.

Darkness mostly. An interior room, with a small table, a very dim lamp, two overstuffed chairs facing each other, a few feet apart, like a therapist’s office. I noticed a piece of paper on the table. It glowed in the dim light. She gestured to one and sat in the other chair. 

I sat. It felt like blackness surrounded us.

She closed her eyes for a moment. I could swear she was meditating, but … Ivy? No way. No fucking way. Her idea of mindfulness was knowing whether she wanted wine or a good single malt.

She opened them. Her face was relaxed, more than I’m used to seeing, and she smiled.

A lot of the students at U of C called her “Poison Ivy,” and not after some comic character. She was tough, unsmiling, brilliant, and she demanded brilliance from her students.

I was staring.

“Daniel,” she said, softly.

“Ivy. I don’t understand what’s happening.”

“Everything is OK,” she said.

Her voice was softer than usual.

“You will understand.”

She crossed her legs. Ivy has long legs but always wears slacks. Never a skirt, never leggings, never a dress.

“Sit back and relax, Daniel.”

If she could do little breathing exercises, I could relax. The chair was comfortable.

“I want you to pay close attention.”

And she had it.

That’s Ivy’s superpower. She walks into a room, she has your attention.

“This isn’t class. This isn’t office hours.”

I had a brief memory of how difficult those times were. A demanding professor, questioning not just every word, but the meaning of a character, the truth not written down, the death of words on the page as they entered into a reader’s imagination.

“This is a form of instruction only a few of my students have even gotten.”

A woman dressed like a maid brought in a tray with two glasses of water. I didn’t know maids … hell, I didn’t know people still had them or that they really dressed like that.

“Wanda, this is Daniel”

She turned, curtsied.

Shit, I thought. I’ve seen her. She had a few hits. Really nice voice. Then she disappeared.

Wanda smiled, face oddly blank, before she turned and walked out.

“She was a disappointment,” Ivy said. “Peaked in her first year. Got into her head. Couldn’t sing anymore.”

“What happened?” I asked. 

“I happened,” she said. “She came to me and asked to be freed of her need for fame.”

I shifted uncomfortably.

“Have a drink.”

I took a sip. Room temperature, the way Ivy always wanted her water. “Ice is for the weak.”

“Do you remember your first rejection?”

“Yes.”

“How it made you angry, maybe how it raised doubts about yourself?”

I swallowed. What writer doesn’t remember that?

“Yes.”

“And they still come, don’t they, those useless rejection letters?”

“Yes.”

She had a piece of paper on the table, lifted it.

“Thank you for your submission,” she read. “They all begin that way, don’t they?”

I nodded.

“Answer me.”

Just a light slap.

“Yes.”

“And you always feel a little … less-than? Isn’t that the term now?”

“Yes.” What, did she have a window into my head? I took another sip of the water.

She let the paper fall to the floor. I watched it float down. 

“Have you ever thought about that statement? ‘Thank you for your submission’?”

I hadn’t.

“It’s not like you went to your knees,” she said. “Is it?”

“No,” I said.

“You give them a chance. A chance to publish greatness. And you are great, Daniel.”

She uncrossed her legs, leaned forward.

“Just close your eyes,” she said.

“Remember a moment, a moment when you look at something you’ve just written and you’re shocked that those words came from your mind.”

It was half-way through my first novel. From the beginning I knew the main character was going to die, just not … so soon.

“Take a deep breath, relive the feelings you had.”

A rush. Greatness. I had greatness in me.

“Keep your eyes closed. But now listen to my voice, focus on my words, not yours.”

Ivy was speaking so softly. There was still an iron in her, but she’d wrapped it in velvet.

“Relax and let yourself breath, just breath, breath and listen to my voice.”

It has always been this way: Ivy speaks, and you obey.

Obey.

Something in my mind wanted to pull back from that word, but it clung like fog in the trees.

“You write so much. You work so hard. You get so … tired.”

Writing isn’t as easy as I like to pretend. After two or three hours, I’m exhausted.

“It leaves you … drained.”

It was as if her voice was becoming distant, but her words clearer. Or maybe the other way around.

I wasn’t sure. I was-

“So drained, so tired.”

Yes. That.

“Just relax. Let me do the work for you.”

I felt myself sinking into the chair.

“Let me think for you. Let me decide for you.”

That sounded so blissful. And the chair was so comfortable.

“As my words brush away your thoughts.”

I … who needs thoughts?

She talked more, sinking and relaxing, floating away….

And she brought me out of it a few times, then just said….

“Now close your eyes and go back down.”

Back down.

“Down so deep.

Yes, so deep.

“Into trance.”

Into trance. The most natural thing in the world.

It seemed like a cycle. Deeper and deeper … and then coming up, opening my eyes, seeing her lovely smile and-

“Drop.”

I don’t know when that started. Just, “drop.” And I would. Because she told me to.

“Now let’s go back to the beginning,” she said. “How a rejection begins.”

She waited.

“Say it.”

I could barely use my lips.

“Ank you f’ you submiss.”

“That’s right. Submission.

I was beginning to understand. And the thoughts, the ones I usually shut down immediately.

“Submission,” she repeated.

“That’s what you do, right? Say it.”

“Sub- sub- submit.”

“Every time you send the sweat and blood of your talent, you’re submitting to them. To the editors and slush pile readers and they are unworthy.”

They are unworthy. My submission is precious. Deep within me. Terrifyingly deep. Even I don’t want to admit it.

“So I want you to submit, submit completely and fully, to someone who is worthy.”

Ivy.

“To someone who appreciates your genius.”

Ivy.

“To your mistress.”

Mistress Ivy.

“Submit and surrender.”

Submitted. Surrendered.

“Give into me.”

I have.

“Completely. In trance or not.”

I heard a sound. Wanda entering. A tissue, wiping drool from the side of my mouth.

“This is how it should really feel, this good, this mindless, this helpless, this is how it should feel. When you submit.”

She paused.

“You’re deep now. I don’t think you can talk. Can you nod?”

I tried. It was so hard, but I tried.

“Good boy.”

It floated over me, a rapture, a pure, complete joy. 

Good boy.

“I’m going to count you up now,” Mistress Ivy said. “And Wanda is going to help you to a bed. Do everything she tells you.”

Numbers. A vague awareness of the dark room. Ivy. Beautiful, powerful, my Mistress.

Wanda helped me up. She led me to a bedroom suite. In the bathroom she unzipped me. I relieved myself. She led me to a bed.

There was something  black on the bed, some kind of bag. Black and shiny. Wanda undressed me, rubbed some lotion or something all over my body, everywhere except where I was so hard and wanted to be rubbed.

She had me crawl into the bag, adjust myself, as she zipped it up.

Encased. Warm. The artificial fabric of some kind in contact with my skin, my erection sticking out through a hole.

Headphones.

Ivy’s voice.

Wanda’s lips on my erection.

Ivy’s voice.

Wanda pulling away, leaving me still hard and unsatisfied.

Ivy’s voice.

Hours? Days?

Wanda helping me out of the bag.

Voices echoing in my head.

A voice.

Echoing many times.

Many phrases.

Empty and blank.

Obedient.

Submissive.

Surrendered.

Wanda led me to the shower. I don’t know if I was still under or not as room-temperature water and soap and a rag-

Oh, my erection hurts, needs.

Wanda pulls some pants up around me. Pajamas, maybe, sweats, I don’t know.

I’m led out.

The dark room.

Ivy, with another woman. Blank-faced, just like Wanda.

Just like me.

“This is Johanna,” Ivy said. “Kneel before us.”

So glad to do so.

“Tell him the arc of his next books.”

Johanna spoke in a monotone. I saw the stories in my mind.

Lori, a plucky blonde, dating a guy-next-door type, Chad. A nice guy. He wants her to leave the police force, marry him.

Then the vampire, Elena. Russian. Brooding. Leather and fangs and lust.

Lori, torn. Almost bitten in the first novel, almost destroys Elena.

Second novel, Elena’s rise, Lori gives in to her lust for Elena (“Only if you don’t feed on me. Promise?” “I promise,” Elena said, lips dangerously close to Lori’s throat.), can barely save Chad. Chad leaves her.

Third novel, Lori’s first time being bitten, the slight changes, has a chance to destroy Elena, saves her instead. Chad marries a “nice girl.”

Fourth novel. Lori bitten too many times, becoming a vampire, has to leave the force. A new  vampire in town, fighting Elena.

Fifth novel. Elena, weakened from wounds, cannot protect Lori. Chad and his nice, little wife, slaves of the evil vampire. Lori almost defeats him, he escapes with his new slaves.

Sixth novel. Elena brings Lori all the way over to the night side. Renewed, Elena teaches Lori all about existence in vampirism. They fight the evil vampire. He destroys Elena, Lori destroys him, takes Chad’s wife as her own slave, leaves Chad out in the sunlight.

The contract is drawn up. Johanna is my agent and publisher. Earning go to Mistress.

And that is how it should be.

Right?

Things are brought to my room. My important papers. My laptop. More of those sleep sacks as Wanda calls them.

Every night a session with Mistress. Only at night. I never see her during the day.

Deep and deeper and so very sunken into the blackness. She does use me. My tongue, my fingers, my cock. They stand aside if present, Wanda and Johanna, as blank as I am, as helpless as I am. Or they take part, as Ivy chooses. She leaves us alone during the day, as she goes about her work teaching and lecturing and presenting at conferences.

Or wherever. I have no idea. I’m not supposed to have ideas. I just never see her.

After four months I have finished the series of novels. Johanna has edited them. Another month and the edits are done.

Sleep sack, headphones, writing, Mistress weaving her spell even more tightly around my mind.

But I’ve finished. Lori has become the ruler of the night. Ivy has all the royalties, a movie deal.

And I lay on the bed. No sleep sack.

Johanna comes in, blankly says her goodbyes.

Wanda comes in. She smiles gently. I realize I’ve never heard her say a word.

Ivy comes in for one last fuck.

As we finish, Ivy turns, looks down at me with true command in her face, and says, “Thank you for your submission.”

As if she had told me to, I dropped.

Her words floated in my mind. They reached my core, even deeper than my submission to her, the person I am, the thing that makes me who I am.

And very gently edits part of me out of existence. I don’t remember what it was. I don’t know everything about who I was before then.

She brought me up.

She smiled, kissed me.

I smiled.

I had no words.

I didn’t need them anymore. Not to serve her.

x5

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