Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mechanical priorities

What a roller coaster week! It started out with two rejections, one explicit, one by default (no news, in the case of a writing contest, is definitely not good news) which left me feeling pretty low. I spent the next few days struggling to prioritize my work and to find the motivation to tackle the necessary rewrites.

Rejection number one was a short story written several years ago and I thought it was pretty good. I revised it while in the midst of the adrenaline-rush after finishing last summer’s Antioch Writers Workshop and sent it out, with three other pieces, to various markets. Every one has now been returned. I’m left with confusion over how and where to resubmit, or if I even should. Toss these old things a file and move on to something new or keep trying? A couple of them are iffy, granted, but I see much worse items published every day. For now, I’m setting them aside.


A personal essay I had been so pleased with when I first wrote it last fall (rejection number two) benefitted from some trimming, some additions, and a general tightening of focus. It’s better now, I hope, but I’ve forced myself to set it aside for a few days before a final reading and resubmission. My AWW writers group has been very complimentary of this piece, so I have high hopes for it. The difficult part at this point will be deciding where to send it. Entry in a contest with a monetary prize and publication in a little-known journal, or a try for acceptance in a more prestigious outlet with a greater chance of rejection?


Then there’s my thesis novel. Yuck. I’m at the point where I don’t even want to look at it anymore. I’ve been ignoring it for several weeks now, waiting for a couple of new readers to comment on the completed draft, but it’s time to stop procrastinating. I went back through the chapter outline and realized what a mess it is. Scene flow, chapter breaks…the longer I look at it, the more confused I become. After a bit of shuffling, consolidation and deletion, it was better, or so I thought. I sent it to my mentor for review and she came back with a list of pointed – and difficult – questions about my characters that I’m having trouble answering.

Today, after making the adjustments I noted on the outline, I took out all the chapter numbers. I want to see where story wants to break, not where I think it should. My characters have shown me the way before; I trust they will do so again, if I will let them. As for the mentor questions, I’m going to sleep on it.



So after I posted the above, I realized my overly-active pessimism had taken hold and wiped out the memory of two very exciting opportunities which came my way today. I hesitate to say more at this point (see pessimism note!) but once everything is settled, I'll be happy share. In the meantime, just trust me and share my joy. Thanks!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your thoughts?