Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Wait Begins

As of yesterday, all my previously unpublished fiction has been submitted to various publishers, both print and online. "At the Flea Market" is at The Three-Lobed Burning Eye and "The Orchard" has been submitted to The Harrow, an online horror magazine that uses a peer review submission style. Before this I was never aware that being nervous and serene could be accomplished simultaneously. On one hand, I’m confident in these stories (especially the newer ones) and feel they deserve a home somewhere. On the other, who knows how reliable my own opinion is, and waiting to hear if my work is a good fit for where its been sent always makes me a bit jittery.

Since getting back into novel reading I’ve noticed just how much other peoples’ work influences my own. I’ve been branching out into different genres and, inevitably, my own writing has followed, malleable and easy to reshape. I don’t identify with the horror genre so much anymore. In fact, I don’t really identify with anything at this point. After watching Gary Braunbeck read “We Now Pause For Station Identification” I decided to try my hand at a zombie story, something I’ve never done before. The result was “Wings,” a much shorter story that has little to do with Mr. Braunbeck’s work, but the inspiration remains the same.

After reading several novels and short stories by Haruki Murakami, I was eager to try my hand at something a bit more surreal, less horrific but still fairly odd. “Cryptic Coloration” was the result. Even back in my high school days I was influenced by what I read. If I dug up the short stories I penned back then I’d no doubt see a glaring Anne Rice influence, backed up by pulpy genre paperbacks and the now-defunct Dell Abyss line of novels. I loved them so much. I hope I still have them boxed up in the attic with the rest of my old books.

It’s funny how much your environment ends up influencing you.

Now that I have nothing at the moment to shop around, I need to get back to writing. I have spurts of inspiration, ideas, motivation, whatever you want to call it really, but for the most part I have no idea what I want to do. The days where I sit down and tell myself “Alright, you’re going to write a thousand or more words on X subject,” and it works out are lucky, not the norm. I might have completed seven new stories since this past fall, but there are just as many incomplete ones, waiting for me to return to them. Some I may never go back to, and some amount to little more than plain writing exercises.

I remember the promise I made to myself last fall, the little “Author’s Statement” I signed and stuck to my wall stating I’d produce at least one work of original fiction

Author’s Statement

I, Jessica Brown, do state my intent to write one piece of original new fiction per month minimum from October 2007 forward. These pieces need not be perfect, nor do they have to have a specific word count, but I must be writing constantly. This is in addition to reading.

In order to be a competent writer I must be well practiced and well read. No more procrastination.

October 7, 2007

So far, I haven’t defied it. I’m still writing at least one piece of fiction a month. But now that doesn’t seem like enough. I wrote “At the Flea Market,” “Canned Aisle” and “A Poor Self-Image” all within a week, with “Cryptic Coloration” following shortly. That’s the kind of momentum I like best, that bam bam bam of words onto paper, paper in order, a short story becoming complete. And then, admiring your work and moving on to the next neat idea that’s taken up residence in your head. That’s how I like to do things. Any time spent not writing is time where my ability to write could begin to atrophy. At least, that’s how it feels to me sometimes. If I don’t keep writing, I could wake up tomorrow unable to write at all.

So how do I keep this balance? How do I continue to feed my hunger for novels and short story collections and still find the time to write?

For now, I think I’m going to get back to working on Pages. I have no idea where I’m going with this or how long it’s going to be, but that’s part of the fun in it I suppose. Since finishing NaNo, I don’t really worry about a story’s length or keep to a strict plot outline. It’ll go where it wants to go, and if where it wants to go is rancid and worthless we’ll just try again. I haven’t had that happen yet, though. The stories never travel in that direction of their own volition. They always end up ruined when I try to force a group of characters through a plot I think is too cool to pass up.

No comments: