Here’s a little story.
In 2011, I earned my MFA in fiction. In 2012 I let my manuscript “sit in the drawer” until it felt somewhat new again (i.e. I didn’t get indigestion reading the first not-going-to-admit-how-many pages). In 2013, I got busy editing and sending my novel, The Promise of Water, to readers.
And this year? This year has been all about submissions. Queries to agents. Letters to journal editors to whom I am pedaling my short stories. Submissions of my stories to journals near and far. Entries to novel and short story contests.
All of this is in an effort to build perceived legitimacy into my creative writing life. I say “perceived legitimacy” because I know that even without contest wins or agent representation, all that a writing life ultimately requires is the writing itself. Even so, I’ll keep submitting, despite my newfound obsession: I hit the refresh button a lot. Too much. Often enough that I am willing to concede it’s become an addiction – refreshing repeatedly in hopes of finding an email with some good news attached. There are worse behaviors, I suppose.
In addition to the inevitable rejection, I’ve been fortunate to also have some luck here and there. Runner up in the Whidbey Emerging Writers Contest. Finalist in the Great Novel Contest by the Columbus Creative Co-op. Semi-finalist for the William Van Dyke Short Story Prize. And double-digit requests by agents to read my novel.
I’m gaining traction. Each small nod gets me closer to being able to legitimately change my email signature from “writer” to “author.”
Last week, I received more good news. I was hitting the refresh button, and suddenly a new subject header appeared: You’ve won the Gotham contest! This, my friends, is why I love micro fiction. The challenge from Gotham Writers Workshop was to write a story in ten words or less. Last spring, I took my chance and entered. Those ten little words earned me a first place nod, and better yet, a FREE online class. I can’t wait to focus on the craft and also pick up some good ideas for my writing workshops.
Believe me. As a wife, a mother of two precocious kids, a full-time writer and a volunteer, I find it challenging to carve out writing time — like many of you, no doubt. (As I type, my three-year-old is trying to slip swim goggles on my head to make me a super hero.) Enter the wonderful “fix” that is micro fiction. That’s why this writer mama loves extremely short shorts (the stories, not the hot pants). Even the constant reviser in me can handle some micro fiction with some regularity. Limiting your word count is the perfect editing exercise. Compression at its finest.
So when stories can be as few as ten words, there’s no excuse for any of us to say we don’t have time to pursue our love of creative writing. And it’s always a good thing when there’s a reason to write. Thank you, Gotham, for inspiring me this time around!
I need to go check my email now, but for some GREAT short shorts, check out Darren Cormier’s A Little Soul: 140 Twitterstories.
Thanks for dropping by.