Monday, June 26, 2006

How Can One Short Story Be Such A Pain?

I submitted a short story to an editor today, squeaking under the deadline like Pete Rose sliding head first into home base. I hate doing that. I don't usually cut it that close.

People who are able to turn in newspaper columns every day amaze me. Writer friend Kate Dominic has several hundred stories published, the result of submitting seven to ten stories some months. I stand in awe of her. (For many reasons, but for purposes of this entry, her professional output is what I'm talking about.)

Although I work on writing every day, that doesn't mean typing stories on the computer. I consider reading calls for submission, research, editing other writer's work, chatting with writers about the business, going to conferences, and simply reading to be part of the work of writing. I've developed an internal rhythm where I don't write much from April to August. A first I love it, because I read like mad, but by June I usually have a couple calls for submission that I want to write for, as I did this year, but I can't. Simply can't. Can't force it, can't make it flow, can't make myself think it's autumn, can't write.

I had to give up on one call for submission, which made my heart ache because it was for science fiction and for an editor I'd love to work with. Could not get a story together that I wanted to show him. I almost let the other call go too, but at least I had an old story I could start with. It definitely needed work. Fixing it was roll-up-the sleeves writing. Grit my teeth and type. Nothing was coming to me. Every version I tried was wrong. All I could do was force myself to sit down and try another approach until I got it. I think I got it. I HOPE I got it. *sigh*

So now I'm poking at the edges of writing another novel, but not with that surge of energy I know will hit me in August or September. Until then, I have a stack of books waiting for me. Up next - Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye. Sinking into that is going to be pure indulgence. And maybe I won't mind not being able to write if I can read work like that.

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