Today is the day that I can call myself a published author! Short Fiction Break has published my first short story. It is a story about a man fleeing destruction and facing challenges from the past along with challenges from those around him. It fits into a larger collection that I’ve written and hopefully it will be the first of those to be published! Here is the link to it, if anyone would like to check it out: http://shortfictionbreak.com/foreign-flight/.
I know this isn’t the normal experience, but I just finished participating in the Write Practice’s Spring Contest, and it was great fun! I say that it wasn’t the normal experience because it began with critique groups to workshop our stories. We had about a two week period to post, critique, revise, repost, critique some more, revise some more, and repeat. It was a more focused work environment than I’d participated in lately, and I loved the confidence build of writing something new and seeing it shape into a quality story in that short of a time. I find it easy to get stuck in revising the work that I already have, so I liked the reminder to keep writing new stories too. In the end, I probably overworked the story, but when I come back to it in a few weeks to revise it again, it will be a good place to build from. It will be published on Short Fiction Break, so I’ll post a link on this site when that happens. Update: Here is the link!
So, now to just keep writing something new, and somehow find time to revise it all as well. So much to do!
I’ve only gotten my feet wet so far, so I’m by no means an expert, but I’ve been checking out literary journals lately and it’s been a steep learning curve. I started out focused on Glimmer Train, and I am really looking forward to getting a piece accepted there. From what I’ve seen so far, they write very nice rejection letters and the two that I’ve received so far have each been different. Two different form letters? Perhaps, but I like to think the sisters took a small amount of time. They have so many open submission periods, that there’s always something to look forward to. Many of the rest have somewhat ran together. I appreciate the ones who who Submittable, so that my subs are oraganized easily. I was excited by One Story’s special offer to submitters to get five issues for five dollars, as I would love to read all the journals, but the cost would add up. My best experience so far has been with Short Fiction Break. I submitted in the evening and the next day I had an email from the editor giving praise for my story, as well as detailed criticism, offering for me to resubmit the story within the next month. So much of the submission process has been like a vacuum, that getting detailed feedback was a welcome change.
Nearly a year has passed since I went to DFWCon2016, and it’s been a strange year in terms of self definition. After DFWCon last year, I was very energized about my writing, making very worthwhile revisions to my main manuscript and starting two other book length projects. I felt good about my pitch sessions, and I was excited to hear back from those agents. Then, I made the mistake of waiting and not working. The waiting lasted a long time and when I didn’t hear back, the waiting turned into apathy. The one good writerly thing that I did was turn to short stories, and they have got me excited about writing again. I’ve been exploring the world of literary journals, and while I’ve found that I’ve got a lot to learn, I’ve also enjoyed the challenge and some of my studying about book querying transfers. I haven’t given up on The Great Defiance either but I’m fine with it sitting on the back burner for a bit. Focusing on craft in short bursts will be my goal, and then I can apply that to longer works in the future.
Erase this? Are you crazy! my mind rebels, whenever I sit down to rewrite a scene. I’ve rewritten scenes any number of times now, but every time that I start to do it again, I have a moment of panic. Maybe it’s not perfect, but what if I don’t come up with something better! my mind traitorously speaks. Then, after I hit the delete button, my mind continues to berate me/itself, gloating, Well now you’ve done it, and I’m just not going to come up with any ideas 😡! But what I’ve learned by now, is that whatever part of my mind rebels stains the work of rewriting is really a part that is easily beaten, and soon, it moves from this 😡, to this 😞, to this 🤔. And then, the ideas start to flow, while I’m just along for the ride, until finally, we together get to this 😎, in hopes of this 🤑 : )
This was my first writer’s conference, and if I can swing it next year, I’ll definitely be back. The sessions were top notch and the ability to sit down with an agent and discuss my work was so valuable. I think one of the things that I gained from this conference was to realize both the potential of my work and to also see some small things that could be changed to give it a better chance.
As all introverts likely agree, going to a conference, without a wingperson of any sort, is among the worst thing in the world. Still, choosing to do so and making friends in the process is choosing to pursue the future. That’s the direction in which I want to live.
Revision is one thing, but rewriting entire sections is a daunting task! I have recently been working through some sections that I am re-imagining and beginning each one feels like jumping off a cliff. Changing small details or even adding large sections to previously written chapters has not been very difficult, perhaps because it gives some structure to work within, but it is painful to delete whole sections that I liked. Walking through the writing process to redo those parts isn’t easy either. Each time, I stare at the top of the chapter dreading what is to come. And each time, I have to force myself to jump in with both feet, cutting what needs cutting, no matter what. Tapping my imagination again, trying to come up with something better than before.