My writing coach asked for my two most recent stories, plus the one I was currently working on, in whatever shape it’s in. I sent them all; for the latter I included all the standard disclaimers: this is a first draft, it’s not even finished, I know it has problems, I have several pages left to write, plus I want to take a few editorial swipes at it before showing any other readers. Bad news is, coach sent me back a list of critiques of the damn thing. “WTF?” sez I. “Don’t critique a story before it’s even finished.” The strong and righteous breeze I’d been riding all week went luff, and I spent the evening pacing around my living room. I picked books up off my shelf, thumbed through some pages, then put them back. I went into the kitchen to make myself something, then realized I wasn’t hungry. I went upstairs to write, but the words didn’t want anything to do with me. I didn’t know what to do with myself; I couldn’t make myself comfortable. It was like tossing and turning without being in bed.
Good news is, Coach tells me that the most recent incarnation of The Last Manuscript of Mark Twain (fifteen pages lighter) is now a candidate for submission. Still needs another rewrite, to take care of some characterization and plotting issues that I band-aided earlier. But more than just salvageable: it’s publishable. And The City of Destiny, Featuring Eric Lipschitz is good to go as is. Coach says the thing to do now is to find out what editors dig my work, and the only way to find that out is to start submitting. So I’m checking out Duotrope.com (thanks Blake! Thanks Kat!) and looking through 600+ publications that accept simsubs for this first exploratory outing.
Funny, I’d spent more than six years in book publishing, but this still feels like alien territory for me. But I love exploration. I am fearless, and there are more planets to be discovered. (And yes, Pluto, you are still a planet, stop nipping.)
Also: I pulled out that dream-sketch I wrote earlier, “Baby in a Hole,” (some readers may remember, circa New Year’s). It’s actually a pretty good raw piece to work with. I sat down and started converting it into story. Dreams have always been good to me. Baby in a Hole seems like a promising diversion.
I’ve decided I’m not waiting for my fate. I’d love dearly to attend an MFA program, but that isn’t what makes me a writer. Writing is the only thing that makes me a writer. And I’m not getting any better at it by sitting around and theorizing. A feel a slight wind picking up off the starboard bow. It’s enough.