Sunday, July 11, 2010

Wherein fiction is completed and more fiction appears

A few months ago I declared two novellas I'd been working on for years, years I say!, done. Finished. The ended.

I folded each into my short story collection which bulked it up so I had two story collections, each with one of the novellas. It was such a good feeling to be finished and to have two collections to submit. I don't enter poetry book contests but I will try short story collection contests. How else will I publish a collection? I don't know. I just don't. If you do, tell me.

Here's the thing. Before I declared the novellas (From the One Side of Heaven and A Vote for Ross Perot) done, I had a sense that fiction was over for me. I wasn't interested in generating anything new and nothing new was coming to me.

No sooner were the two collections in the mail than I came across a beginning of a draft of a story from 1995, when I still lived in Seattle. It had been hiding from me. It had pricked its finger on a spindle and was waiting for me to mail the two collections, already. I liked the story's tone. I was excited about the characters who were opinionated, odd and interesting.

I also began writing a new story. Just like that. And (further) a third story. (This one I'm not so sure about, but...)

That said, I'm not feeling confident, not at all. The little voice, that doubting nagging voice, is strong these days. Luckily I'm too stubborn and too curious about how I'll end the stories to quit.

Luckily (redux) I understand much more about writing now than I did when I started. I know shortcuts and conveniences, and I know to get to the emotional heart of a character. I'm not sure I knew that years ago. I was working on art years ago, not self-consciously or in a precious way. (We don't like precious.) My perspective was of me as artisan designing a mosaic, one of many, for the emperor. It had to be perfect. It never was. That's why it took so long.

For some reason I am called on here to document my victory--finishing the novellas--and my fear of being a not-good writer. Consider both documented. The end.

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