And survived! This was a great month for me. I filled a notebook and drafted a little over seventeen thousand words. I bush burned. I practiced fiction on a tilt. I wrote about my faith. Really, I just kept going,
I started the month with four rules. (You can go through the month of May to find I ticked each).
- Have fun most of the time
- Experiment: structure, tense, POV, syntax & usage
- Reuse ideas but don’t pick at old drafts
- Daydream draft
And I supposed I’d add a fifth rule before the month was up because I prefer odd numbers. (If we have third child, you will know why).
I have been certain of and wobbly about my writing for years. Once or twice a year I make a plan to write a lot and submit work for publication and write amazing pieces about interesting things and then I open my notebook. And then I open my laptop. I do the writing. That was the fun of this month. Sustain creative momentum! Don’t overthink! Generate! Make!
I did find a fifth rule: Figure out what comes next. I ended the month with another conversation with David Lee. We were talking about what comes next. How do you share your work? I write for the pleasure of writing, for the fun of storytelling, to understand or explore. But I am impatient for readers. Unless an editor or agent reads what I have here, and asks for finished work, or unless I spend an hour or two each evening submitting files to literary magazines with the hope my pieces land in print – I won’t make it as a traditionally published writer. For all the certain and wobbly years I’ve picked at publishing, making lists of online and print magazines journals collections that might choose my work, I have published very very little outside this space.
A few years ago I counted my finished work and found a book length multigenre collection. This was an amazing and awful realization. I have finished work no one is reading. Anything I submit for publication likely receives a cursory glance before the form email comes back. But I rarely submit anything. Perhaps because I wrongly (or realistically) lack trust in the traditional publishing process: I have no connections to that world, no boast-worthy MFA, and no wild voice or experience that might find my name on a book cover.
I began Piecemeal to share my practice and chart process. Part of writing is finishing a piece. What I am going to do now is share more finished work here. For years I’ve kept the majority of my finished work in files you don’t read because most literary journals will not publish previously published work. This month I thought how sad that I am always writing about process while keeping a chunk of that process tucked away on the slim hope I hear back from a literary journal. Who reads literary journals?* My writing is not that precious. Read it.
The creative space is saturated by incredible talent and early practice. I think that’s great.** We have an inherent desire to build design write paint sew sing make play. I write because there is joy in creating. There joy in the difficult work of revision. There joy in finding the right way to say what I want to say. And now I share because this ability to make a paragraph or find a line of poetry or shape a story from an image is a gift. You do not have to read what I write, but it will be here if you want to.
So here I start before I’m ready. You can find finished work posted on the Culled page. I will rotate the pieces I share and post a craft essay on each.
*I write this question totally aware that blogs are not really a thing anymore. And yet, I persist.
**I think being creative is great. I occasionally rant about the attention given to terrible writing (you can sell garbage pile sentences about vampires and sex) but I doubt I’ll top this take on the glut.