It's that time of the year where my plate is so full something's bound to slide off the edge. When that happens, I can get a bit discouraged about my writing. I want to work on revising the novel, but I'm short on big chunks of time for the kind of full-immersion work that requires. So I've been hovering around my short stories. Which brings me to the small successes.
Small success #1: I finished a short story that took a degree of commitment to revision that I have often been unwilling to give. I had to restructure, unpack, explore characters to the extent I might for a novel. I fought through my desire to "just be done with it" and to ignore my wise writing partner's advice. In the end, I had a piece I feel so proud of and excited about that I sent it off to one of those "they never say yes" markets. Who knows what will happen? But I'm jazzed to have an awesome new story in my stable ready to race.
Small success #2: I got a rejection for one of my stories that was personal and incredibly complimentary, telling me that I should definitely keep sending the story out. I'm so grateful to the person who took the time to write that encouraging "yes within a no."
Small success #3: The other rejection I just got was an impersonal form rejection for a piece that was targeted perfectly for that specific market. After a brief bout of discouragement, I looked back at the piece and could see that while the subject matter was right for that market, the piece itself was a bit of a mess and hadn't been ready to send out. I had been impatient, and it showed. So what's the success here, you may ask? The success is that I was able to recognize that and learn from it rather than wallowing in disappointment. I brought the piece to my critique partner and she's given me some great advice on how to re-enter the piece and start fixing it. And now I know I have the persistence for the kind of major overhaul revisions needed on this type of short story, the kind that could be a novel but will shine best in the short form.
Small success #4: One of my short stories, which appeared in the latest issue of the online magazine Kaleidotrope (see my horn-tooting post), received a twitter review. Yes, a twitter review. A 150 character response from Tiny Reviews, calling it a "subversive, metafictional fairytale." Seeing that someone else, someone I don't know, got what I was going for is a great rush, because, after all, connecting with a reader is really what it's all about.
Small success #5: An online book club chose my story "The Battle of the Pewhasset Pie Palace" for their discussion group. There was a transcript of the online discussion. Once again, I got to feel the rush of seeing my story and characters reach across and connect with readers who haven't met me. They got what I was going for, and while there were criticisms, they were all valid. What I'm realizing is praise or criticism actually carries less of an electronic jolt than that feeling of having connected, having communicated something successfully.
So there you have it. Small successes. Sometimes they're the only kind there is. If you're hitting one of those discouraging spots, look about for what could count as a success, however small.
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