And the latest in the ongoing saga of my writing life…
Stories Circulating: 10
I was really lucky to have several months off to write and I think I used them well. I finished the Nanowrimo novel I had started last November and wrote a whole other one, and I’ve been playing around with ideas for a third novel that hasn’t come together yet while I work on editing the first two and getting friends to critique them. The process has been wonderful: a lot of problems I’ve been wrestling with in my writing for years have turned out to be issues of working in the wrong format: once I gave myself enough space to develop ideas properly, my writing stopped feeling so rushed and began to deepen.
My short stories, on the other hand, have been frustrating me. As predicted, my submission/rejection rate has tapered off, in large part because there are very few markets I haven’t already sent these stories to and those markets are the slowest to respond. I made one amazing sale to Prairie Schooner, but I’m getting to the point where I need to retire several stories to my desk drawer because there is just nowhere else to send them. And some of those stories are very close to my heart, ones that I thought were written well and that I really wanted to see out in the world. That’s painful.
On the bright side, along with the wonderful output I’ve had this year, I’ve also been reading a lot more. Dismayed by how little I read while working for Oxford as compared to when I was in my MFA program, I challenged myself to read 52 books in 2013–one per week. In part because I had some extra time on my hands, I absolutely destroyed that goal with a final count of 127 books! They were a mixture of poetry, fiction, history, and graphic novels, some old favorites and some new discoveries. Why am I mentioning it here? Because part of what fuels my writing is having an active life of the mind. The more I read, the more possibilities I can see for my own fiction.
In the coming year, I know I’m going to write less because I’m working full time, but I really want to finish revising Within These Walls and Cuckoo and put them up on the internet, and I want to write a first draft of a new novel. If I can write one or two rough drafts and polish one or two final drafts every year, then whether or not these early efforts are successful, I know I will eventually get where I’m going.