I think it’s important to share our experiences, not only so that others might learn, but because writing something down changes it, and writing with a purpose even more so.
It’s a long, difficult road, and even though I’ve it heard many times, from many authors, the true meaning of those words continues to surprise me.
Back in January, I was hard at work on a short story that I’ve titled “Familiar Spirit”. It’s a simple story, but one that I feel more connection with than any other piece I’ve written to date, a story that I truly needed to write.
I had previously submitted my story to Glimmer Train‘s Short Story Award for New Writers, and while I did not place, they sent me an encouraging email, and I thought “Yes, this is it. Now all I need to do is revise, refine, and resubmit.”
It was a long 2 months, waiting and hoping; torn between my skepticism that I had never been accepted before, and the desperate desire to believe, to trust in myself and believe that “Everyone is turned away, time and time again, until someone says ‘yes’. Maybe, just maybe, it’s finally time.”
Unfortunately, it was not.
Today I received a message, once again complimenting me on my story, but letting me know that it did not place.
And I admit, I don’t honestly know how I feel.
I’m reminded that so many things can influence whether a story is published, things that have nothing to do with the story itself.
It’s a difficult balance, between the faith and confidence to keep at it, and the humility to accept that it’s not today.
I don’t think I’ll revise Familiar Spirit again, at least not for a while.
I think it’s time to turn my attention to other stories, stories that might have a stronger appeal.
And I’m also reminded of another lesson. That once a story is submitted, it’s best to forget about it, and dive right into another. I didn’t do that. I was so enamored, so hopeful, that I couldn’t commit myself to another story, not yet. But if I had, I’d have two stories, instead of one.
And again I’m reminded, it is difficult, managing the balance between working so hard to make a story strong, and letting it go once the story is complete, and moving on to the next.
But I have decided. Over the next month I will finish reading my latest book on writing, The Anatomy of Story, I’ll incorporate it into my notes, and I will finish my outline for revising “Changing Courses”, another old story of mine that clearly has room for improvement.
If anyone would be interested in reading it (probably some time late in June or early in July), please let me know.
Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award for New Writers runs again in August, and I intend to submit Changing Courses at that time.
And with luck, I’ll have a third story ready some time in the fall, though I haven’t the foggiest idea what that will be. One step at a time, as they say.
In any case, thank you all for offering your continuing support; for sharing your thoughts, your comments, and your encouragement.
It is a long road, far longer than anyone expects, but it’s also a dream. Stories have always struck me as the closest thing to true magic in this world, the power to use words that we all know to create something new, to put images, ideas, and memories into the minds of others, to converse with people you’ve never met, who somehow know you so well. And truthfully, I’ve always dreamed of being a wizard.
Here’s hoping that in a few short months I have a fresh story to share with all of you.