Monday, August 25, 2008

Do you know what time it is?

I can't believe it. It's August 25 and this is the year I promised myself I would finish my book. I know. If you read my blog, you must be sick of hearing about it, but I can't help myself. Public admonitions seem to be the only way I can shame myself into doing anything. And since it is that LAST week of August, and the fall will be--if history repeats itself--INSANE, I have to gather myself, think about goals, and how to keep them.

I taped a sign on my fridge about a month ago. It says, "Nothing is more important than the book," and yet today at 8:15 I'm heading out to South Pas to do my Monday morning exercise for two hours. That means by the time I get back it will be 10:30 and I will be whipped. But today, instead of making a face plant in the middle of the couch after I down three 8 ounce glasses of water, I will sit down at the computer.

However, what will grab my attention? Novel or short story? It is, after all, SUBMISSION SEASON! The recognition of submission season a couple of years ago is what finally got me published. I realized that I had to change my slovenly ways and begin to market in an organized way. The first thing I did was set a goal: 100 rejections. This is not an original idea. I'd read about it somewhere and liked the logic. Instead of worrying about how many acceptances I might get--a goal that feels self-defeating from the get-go--I decided to go for the 100 "your piece has no place in our immediate plans" target.

And it worked. Everything I had ready to go since then has found a home except for "Wanting Steven" and at least I got a personal letter from Ellery Queen saying they almost published it. It think Janet Hutchins was on vacation at the time, but I'm still taking it as a triumph!

So of course my consciousness is heightened toward short pieces this time of year, but unfortunately I have nothing really ready except for "Wanting Steven" which I probably need to look at again and figure out why it hasn't found its place before I submit again. So the dilemma: write short stories to submit or finish the book.

My good friend Kev says he spoke to a famous author recently and that author encouraged him to abandon the shorts for the novel and he had lots of legitimate reasons. The market for shorts is steeped in honor and tradition, but only a few of these journals actually reach many people and those people are more likely than not, college students, other writers, academics, and perhaps an small elite of avid readers. To be published in any of these can be good and if you get into say The Georgia Review you are golden, but since most pay in copies of their magazine, it isn't a good way to put a Lean Cuisine on the TV tray.

Kev's author suggested that the "where it's at" in writing is the novel. That's where the money is, where the mass audience is, that's where self-satisfaction can be gained.

This logic makes perfect sense to me, but the novel is sooooo long, soooo indefinite, that it's a struggle to actually dive in day after day with out being tempted to take a writing break with a 1000 word flash for Every Day Fiction, or maybe a 4000 word short. I've got enough starts and if they don't work, there's more cooking up in my brain pan than those.

I suppose I'm rambling this morning because I've just realized I have the months of September, October, November, and December to meet my goal: a little over 120 days. That means I'll have to edit around 3 pages a day to have a somewhat edited manuscript by the new year. It's certainly do-able, but can I do it?

Final note: I did hear from McSweeney's and yes they did reject "Monsoon," but some one jotted me a personal note and I have to say, that got me flying....

Secret: "Monsoon" will be published soon (I hope) by Quality Women's Fiction.

6 comments:

Shameless said...

I know what you mean. I've got ideas for shorts flying around all over now.

Jotting them down for later.

Tania Hershman said...

I can't believe it's August 25th either... but I am impressed that you've done two hours of exercise today! Don't give up on the short stories, can you do both? I love the 100 rejections goal, that is such a great way to look at it. Chin up, go and write some flash, keep grinning about McSweeney's, a great rejection is something to be very proud of!

Stephen Corey said...

What a sad approach: give up writing short stories on the chance of getting more readers and I suppose more money with novels. Then, when the novels don't work out, you can just give up writing, since apparently that wasn't what mattered in the first place. Shrink the artist's world; yes, that's just what's needed.

Gay Degani said...

Kev, Steven, & Tania,

Thanks for taking the time to comment. I love this exchange of ideas!!

Certain attitudes do shrink the artist's world, don't they? But there is the problem of the REAL World and our part in in.

Our society does the shrinking too, by rewarding immediate, user-friendly practical products. The rewards for art are as scatty as a torched cat.

But I obviously can'g give up on any of it. Worked on the short story today despite my tirade mostly because I allow myself what is HOT! Whatever is pushing my buttons. The question is how do I get my novel to push my buttons?

One thing I've done is I've submitted an excerpt to Every Day Fiction and they accepted it. Hopefully it will come out in September and we'll see if I can get myself hot a for it again.

Erin said...

I have that problem, too, Gay. I have a novel permanently in revision. It's like, once the first draft takes that creative bloom off the rose, my muse doesn't want to work on it any more. I had a major project with my writing group this year that I was going to finish it, but... it's not looking so good. And NaNo is looming... but should I do it and have yet another first draft hanging around to revise... maybe not! :-P

Good luck with all those projects!

Gay Degani said...

Perhaps you and I should form a revision cheerleading group?