Hi. This is late again. It’ll probably always be late. I know nobody cares but I like a deadline.
This is a new website. I decided to leave tinyletter because I feel like I have ten outlets spread around the internet (tumblr, medium, blogger, tinyletter, eight other wordpress sites, etc.) and mostly each one is an excuse to bury my writing somewhere, then wonder why nobody looks at it. This’ll just be the place I keep things from now on.
The original idea behind the TinyLetter was to post updates about my writing life, as I’d decided to spend more time submitting my work to writing outlets. That didn’t really pan out; I only submitted eight times last year. Two are still pending and one is being published in the next Hong Kong Review. This year, I really do plan on submitting more as I need to generate more work to figure out what I’m doing next.
It’s been interesting, I had to sort out how I felt about it. The contest wasn’t very well run, I’m not going to get into all the details, but it was (and still is) kind of a mess.
But that aside, I think no matter what happens next, the contest experience been good for me. I make writing more of a problem than it needs to be, I always assume I am not any good at it, give up on projects too easily, hide my writing in ten different places all over the internet so nobody can read it, but there’s been no real support of the idea that I’m no good at this outside of my own head. The contest, silly as it is, poorly run as it was, and whatever else it may be, is maybe, finally, the end of that thinking. It’s not even thinking, just very boring fear of failure bullshit, which as I inch towards 40 becomes increasingly more exhausting. Last year’s winner is a PhD in Creative Writing. I’m fine. Enough already.
Publishing a book has always been the goal. Since I was a kid. My mom was a big reader and I remember her saying something like “Publishing a book is probably the most impressive thing a person could do” and I latched onto it, and it’s been there since. I was six or seven.
This is a goofy contest, and it’s not exactly the same as a full, complete work, shopped to agents, etc. But having something published is suddenly very close, it’s on the horizon, something I’m about to accomplish. And with it on the horizon, an interesting conversation I got to have with myself while walking the dog was: Now that I’ve accomplished what I set out to accomplish, do I still want to do this?
It feels like a natural breaking point. I could publish my little novella that’s takes its cues from a lot of my mental health weirdness, some unhappier bits of my past, and just a big mixing bowl of lots of things I’ve spent years thinking about, purged onto page in a shitty hotel over a long weekend, and be done with writing for good and feel fine about it.
My commitment to writing is complete. Mission accomplished. I can decide to be someone else now. I can take up piano, or sculpting, or ballet, or focus on my career or do any number of a thousand other things before we run out of water. And it was nice to spend an afternoon giving that real consideration and decide to choose writing again, to think, no, this is just what I do, I like it, I am good at it, it would be OK now for me to be free of it, but I don’t want to. It’s good to be this.
The excitement about that decision was probably more intense than winning the contest. “Oh my god, I can work on something else now.” Pure joy.
I probably won’t do another writing contest, I couldn’t focus on anything while it was in the air, though it’s probably good practice for the eventual circulating of a novel draft to agents and publishers. I can be a little obsessive and I obsessed over the contest, because if I won, I was done, if I lost, I wasn’t, and working on it felt like it would eventually bite me in the ass and it has a little bit. The novella is probably fifty pages longer than it was when it was an entry, but they’ll probably only publish the entry. Not wasted time exactly, but I wish I could have detatched a bit more and worked on something else. I am going to try to be better about keeping different projects in the air.
The next book. Having written a novella in three days that’s not as bad as you’d expect it to be, I’m looking forward to focusing on something longer form again. I don’t know what that is yet, but I am looking forward to figuring it out. I’m going to be spending the next few months working on short stories to find an idea that grabs me and pulls me along. I also want to submit more regularly so I have an excuse to draw more thumbnails to use over on the writing page.
I had other things to say but I forget what they were now. Please buy fifty copies of the book whenever it arrives. I don’t know when that will be.
Have a nice winter.