Come check out my new short fiction over at Public Republic!
It’s a hard thing to accept sometimes, but occasionally, in the wee hours of the morning, I’m far more afraid of success than I will ever be of failure. I’m not intimidated by my current greatness as much as I am paralyzed by how good I could be if I just fully submerged myself in an idea, and worked it through to completion. I have lots of great ideas, but very little follow-through.
As I reflect on this this morning, I am unsure what it is about myself that makes it so very hard to just get off my ass and work. I’ve run across various theories:
- I am lazy. This seems like the most logical one, as it also points well to how hard it is to make myself go to the gym, clean the house, finish craft projects, return phone calls, pay bills, etc.
- I am a scanner. This also has the effect of explaining most of the above, but allows me the out of having bunches of other people paralyzed by the same overabundant interests. The interesting thing about this one would be finding the focus and time to read the book to figure what I can do about all the interests that remove the focus and time necessary to read the book.
- I have a fear of changing the status quo. Now this one seems pretty likely. I like my life pretty well, for all my bitching, so why would I want to change it? Dreams are nice and all, but what if those dreams don’t give me an increase in happiness? Would I want to know if I’d really maxed out on possible joy in my life?
In the end, this all loops back around into self-indulgent whining, and leaves me sitting on top of about 5,000 words of prose varying from oh-my-god amazing to hey-with-a-little-work-it-could-be-good. And that leaves me with the stark, beautiful realization that I would rather kick myself in the head (and probably strain a hamstring in the process) than let this possibly amazing story never see the light of day. Not if even one person could find beauty, comfort, or power in its themes (yes, I know, money is good too, but I’m still young and idealistic enough to want to change the world).
So today I will try to clean up the first 5k, and maybe figure out how to get where I am going.
Peace, y’all. 😉
Tonight I had one of the best writers I know look over a flash fiction piece I wrote last week, and she said she thought it was good. I don’t think she was blowing smoke up my ass when she said it, so tonight I tweaked a word choice here and there, and sent it out.
This time, I did things with the submission process a bit differently:
- I researched and chose an appropriate market.
- I read the submission guidelines VERY carefully
- I realized that online markets are JUST AS VALID as print markets
Usually, I submit my stories to the big two or three paying markets first, and by the third rejection to a market that is almost possible to break into, I am so disheartened that the story goes back to just hanging out on my hard drive.
The market I sent to tonight is not as well established, and is online only, but it pays a bit. Not enough to party down, but enough to provide some validation.
I don’t know if I will be accepted or not, but I am trying. And with this story, I have a bit more hope. I hope I find out one way or the other quickly, but their return time says three to eight weeks. I will try very hard to not check my email 300 million times a day in the interim.
I’ve spent the past five days in a state of angst:
Who will I be when I grow up? (though really, at 28, shouldn’t I be grown?)
Will I be happy with the career choices I have made?
Did I make the choices I did purely because K made them, and I wanted in some way to feel as valuable and important as her?
The end result of all the angsting is that I probably wouldn’t be happy as a therapist. Don’t get me wrong. I’d be a DAMN good therapist. But would I be a happy one? Knowing I could be writing?
I don’t think I could.
So I’m working on a plan to change these things. More writing. DEFINITELY more revising. And perhaps a BFA in creative writing is in my future.
According to family legend, I read my first words when I was two-years-old in the grocery store checkout lane on the cover of a black and white tabloid with an alien baby on the cover. Apparently it was obvious that I was reading because I said, “Mommy, what’s an alien baby?”
And a lifelong love and hate of reading began as simple as that.
When I was younger, reading was more simple. I would just read whatever was in front of me–be it a book, magazine, or shampoo bottle–and be happy to be doing it. I read above grade level, and introduced myself to some of the best authors to have ever lived. My sixth grade paper on 1984 was well-lauded, though in retrospect probably a bit short-sighted. When I read Les Miserables (at the time I pronounced it “less miserable”) I found a deep connection to the characters. And when all else fails, there was The Baby Sitter’s Club books to keep me company.
And of course, as you might have guessed, this love of reading led naturally into a love of writing. And boy, do I love writing. Making words appear on the page when there were none before has always filled me with a great deal of joy, and sometimes other people have enjoyed what I wrote as well. Then one day, I thought my dream came true. Zabet and I were contracted to write a book, later to be called Anticraft: Knitting, Beading, and Stitching for the Slightly Sinister.
Boy howdy, talk about an ego trip. And I rode high on it for about a year. Which was, coincidentally, just long enough for the thing to be printed. About that time, I started to doubt that I would ever be published for my prose rather than my ability to help pick out cool craft patterns, and about that time I quit reading. I liked to blame my lack of reading on how very busy I was, how little time there was, how there wasn’t any good fiction out anymore . . . but really, I was just jealous.
What did those writers have that I didn’t? Why wasn’t any of my creative in the literary journals or on the shelves at the bookstores? In a brilliant moment of realization, I figured out that it was probably because I wasn’t submitting anything.
Submit stuff? Check.
Then came the rejections, and wow did they come. Hard and fast and with no explanation, every story I ever submitted was rejected. As the cool kids say: Burn.
Slowly, I recovered from the heartache of my rough drafts (i.e., my babies) being rejected, and I began to read again. I figured if I just read enough, maybe I would learn how to write, and then I could join the elite, the proud, the published! But the more I read, the less confident I am in my own words. What could little old me have to say that is as relevant, as valid, as all the amazing authors who ARE getting published out there?
I’m not sure. I’m really just not sure.
But it makes it hard to read. It provides an actual, honest-to-goodness ache in my heart to realize I may never be as good as my favorite authors …
But that’s okay.
Because I will keep trying.
And I will keep reading.
And even if I’m never good enough, smart enough, or relevant enough to be published, at least I will have read some wonderful words along the way.
I began revising the novel today that I have affectionately dubbed, “Sandy’s Adventure” for lack of a better title.
It is broken beyond belief, but not beyond repair I am finding as I read through it.
I haven’t yet hit the zone that allows me to work for hours on end (I keep taking livejournal and potty breaks) but I feel like I am on the edge of that. Within a day or two, I think I will be able to fully plow into it. Hopefully this will come right at the time when I can afford to buy the printer ink to print out the rest of it for redlining.
I am, for the first time in a long time, excited about trying very hard to be a writer. I will hold onto this as tightly as I can, but with a soft enough hand that this dream can breathe a bit.
Day 2, and no rejection yet on my story. Only 58 more days to go until I hear something.
This is the year of change for me.
I dropped back in my coursework to save my mental and physical health.
I am going to the gym at least three days per week.
I am being more mindful of the things I eat.
But then there’s the important one:
I am trying to write more, edit more, and attempt to succeed in some small way with my writing.
Starting today, I will be spending three hours per day working on writing. The first hour is dedicated to new material, the second two hours will be dedicated to revising old material. I need to get a novel shopping, or I’m never going to feel like I really gave writing a good solid go, and this would disappoint me greatly.
The problem I am having today is deciding what new things to work on for an hour, then HOW to edit for the next two. I don’t have any ideas aching to break free right now, and staring at any of my so-called manuscripts make me just see how much more work they need.
I think I also need to change the way I go about writing initial drafts, as they come out more flawed than I would like to start with. I’m not sure that will be possible in my creative process, but I think next go-round with a novel, I’m going to focus more on 1k a day than on 2 or 3. That might be a good start.
I submitted my first short story of the year, and I am eagerly awaiting my rejection for that one. And suddenly from my readers I hear, “Don’t count yourself out! It could be accepted!”
But I feel better when I assume rejection. Makes it hurt a bit less. One day, I’ll refine a short story or novel enough that it will be published. I have to believe this. And then I will allow myself glimpses of hope. Until then, it’s safer for me to assume failure, but hope for the best.
Off to drink a cup of coffee before it is time to begin writing (and hopefully come up with something to write). Have a great day everyone. Be merry.