New flash story is up at Mirror Dance! I’m a sincere admirer of Megan Arkenberg’s work–this Lightspeed piece is particularly stunning—and I’m very happy “Never Sever” found a home in one of her magazines. I’m in good company, too; the rest of the issue is Weird in the best way. Shelley Bryant’s prose poem “Irruption” (also in the issue) is particularly lovely.
In other news, February was madness. Too short a month in which to do too many things. But. Major life milestone: I submitted my very first book-length manuscript, a short story collection, late last night, barely getting in under the wire for a March 1 contest deadline. I’ve been working on the collection (discussed in the Next Big Thing post below) all month. It will likely be my dissertation. I sincerely doubt it will get picked up by this particular contest, as historically said contest favors straight realism, but may as well try, right? It gave me a deadline to work toward, which is apparently a thing I need.
And now I have five new stories to submit. (Where did they all come from?) But oh, February was rough.
Week one of February, I knew I was close enough to a manuscript-length work that it was worth trying to complete. I burned through three major story revisions in a week. It felt good. I was going to do this thing.
Week two, I knew I needed to redraft one of the weaker stories or I wasn’t going to make the page-count threshold. But I had a solid first draft I was excited to return to, so that’d be fine. A quick redraft to tighten the story thematically, and it could go in the manuscript.
Oh no. No, that was a bad decision. I wrote some absurd, hideous amount of words—6K? 8K? A bunch of it was handwritten…—on the redraft before throwing up my hands in despair. The story was dead and I’d wasted half the month.
It was awful. I haven’t had a story die on me that badly in…oh, a year or so at least. Worst possible timing, too. I gave up making the March 1 deadline. I slumped around the house. I read a bunch of brilliant short stories that made me hate my work even more.
Then James gave me the raised eyebrow of shame and I started a new story with twelve days to go. It was complete at 5K words in eight days(ish), and then I spent my few remaining days begging my (lifesaving, irreplaceable) first readers to give me speed comments (I love you people so much. Thank you thank you thank you). I mean, no question it was a rush job; burn drafting is NOT my favorite way to write a story. But it’s very much the lesson of Clarion: yes, you can write this thing in a week. It will not be the perfect flower it is in your head, but it will get written, and sometimes that’s the best you can do.
“Never Sever” coming out today is the cherry on the sundae of having survived February without Quitting Writing Entirely.
March is a chaos of travel. I head to AWP in a few days, and then on to Arizona to visit my family. I have another pile of deadlines incoming this month, but nothing quite so paralyzing as the stack of stories I had to complete before March 1. I don’t know what other people do on their diss leave, but this month I wrote like a hellbeast (probably 20K words; 13K new, the rest revisions). So that’s something.
Today, I’m going to read a novel. Because I have earned one. Also possibly a nap.