I keep going back and forth with this blog.
On the one hand, there’s my unfortunate preoccupation with what other people think. “Oh, he has a blog? Who does he think he is?” and similar variations. Well, maybe he’s just like every other millennial who pours their every thought all over the internet, hoping someone else will recognize how clever and unique it is. By posting here, I am subjecting myself to the opinions of others, nevermind the fact that I will never know what most of those opinions may be.
Then we come to the other hand, which I make into a fist, and I proclaim myself a writer. Writers have blogs. They’re usually more for informing those who care to know what the writer is up to. I don’t estimate there is anyone who doesn’t hear my news from me personally, but hey, maybe that can change.
There is also the issue of posterity. When I journal, I often write about writing, but I tend to focus on the emotion of it. Here, I could be more goal-focused, and celebrate my achievements as they come. I’ll probably also share the weird, intense, and unexpected emotions I encounter along the way. Why the hell not.
Well, that’s two pros to one con, good enough for me.
So ever since shaming myself into accelerating my writing life, I have been quite busy with projects. There was the queer short story where I had already started to explore some feelings, then I started working on an old idea I had for a vampyre (yes, with a Y) story. Both of these had ticking clocks on them, and I found the deadlines extremely motivating.
The trouble is, I underestimated the time I would need for the vampyre story, and how big the story actually was. To give the events proper emotional impact and get to know the characters at a more meaningful depth, I’d probably have to turn this 10,000 word story into a novel. I might even try that later, but for now it’s stuck in a virtual drawer. I haven’t looked at it since I printed it, stuck it in an envelope, and dropped it in a mailbox to submit.
(Holy fuck, my first submission!)
Then it was time to come back to the queer story. I had already written something with more truth in it than I thought I could do. I was still uncertain about editing that out and going with something a bit less real. In conversations with friends (and my therapist, of course), I came to understand that using these raw feelings felt cathartic and they might resonate with readers. So, the feelings stayed, and I put more of them into subsequent drafts, until I finally arrived at a place where I felt comfortable sharing it.
A thought on digital versus paper submissions:
Paper submissions involve many more steps between the moment you stop writing and the moment your writing is irretrievably out of your hands. There’s the printing, the putting into the envelope, the getting dressed, the walking to the postbox.
Once I stopped typing and looked over my second submission, there were far fewer steps to take. Write a cover letter, draft an e-mail, and hit SEND.
The moment before clicking that button dragged on for an hour as I thought of all the things I could go back and change. This scene could be longer, that description could be better, was that line of dialogue really necessary? I may have even closed my eyes, like when I was much younger and told a guy via instant message that I liked him.
(Holy fuck, my second submission!)
In two moves, I have further solidified my identity as a writer in my head. I have shared my writing in a significant way; even if it does not get published, I have taken a huge step. I am involved in a writing workshop where I regularly share my work and critique the work of others. I am working on a novel, and looking out for more opportunities to submit pieces for publication.
And the one thing I keep forgetting to give myself credit for: I wrote a book. I haven’t finished revising it, because I have come to learn that editing is the terrifying flipside to writing, and I am woefully inexperienced. Getting these short stories ready has given me a new appreciation for it, and a better idea of the journey involved in turning a roughdraft into a novel.
Practicing also gives me a better idea of what sort of process works best for me. The most important lesson I learned from my vampyre story is that I need time to put a piece away so that I can come to it with fresh eyes. I ended up marathon editing over the course of a weekend. I was miserable, lacking in confidence, and my work doubtless suffered. I gave myself more time for my second submission, and I am much happier with the piece I submitted as a result.
So, that’s my latest. Except I’m also working on a novel that is a fictionalization of my life and the gravity of that horrifies and thrills me. I have no idea if I can actually do this, but I’m going to keep going until I make my decision. After all, so much of it is a story I’ve already told time and again.