Month: September 2010

In Praise of Deadlines

If it weren’t for deadlines, I’d have no work at all… That isn’t true, of course, but it feels true. When I was in the fifth grade, I remember staying up late in the bathroom (legitimate room to have the light on at night) furiously copying my state report so I could hand it in in the morning. I had my sister take my Senior thesis into school; I don’t recall how long I’d been up finishing it, but I crashed that morning and slept for a long time.

Those were mandatory deadlines; now I pick and choose from the myriad deadlines offered by writing contests and literary journals that only accept work during certain months. I’ve let a few slip, but it does serve its purpose. NPR’s 3-minute fiction came at an inopportune time, but I thought about the opening line and the last one for just a day or two. I scribbled a few notes down then wrote and polished it the next day. I still rather like it. I would have preferred the fiancé’s name to have been Samuel, but in an effort to get it to read in three minutes, I had to substitute Paul.

‘A Stranger So Helpful’ was written in a similar fashion though I’d known about that contest for months. The deadline was today. I thought it was humorous that when I gave it to B__ to read, she started to and thought a few paragraphs in that it was going to turn out one way and was ready to be furious with me that I gave it to her to read. She read on. After, she said it was a story of mine that she’d give to other people to read. A high compliment.

I’m glad that even though I’ve not been on time this month (September is ALWAYS a difficult month) with this blog, at least I am going to get this post in under the self-imposed deadline. I hope October turns out a bit more staid. Staid is a state of being that is underrated…

Advertisements

September 2010

I didn’t expect to be this late.

Putting up firewood and making jelly and re-writing have had me hopping, and then, when you add in all the parties & visiting in the last five days, well, you’d be running a tad behind, too.

Or not.

 Striving for efficiency in my life is a fad that comes and goes. I even have seasonal ‘to-do’ lists and plans, affirmations and reward systems; I’m lousy with ‘knowing’ what I ought to do & how to set goals… then {chip} I get a call from a friend {chink} and we discuss something that sparks a memory or an idea and {drip} I go to jot down a few lines, {ping} a premise, {clink} or search out a folder…

And then the roof that had been holding all my high ideals collapses and as I stumble over the wreckage of my daily planners and multiple calendars, I brush off pieces of description and fragments of phrases. I yank on the arm of a character I thought I knew only to discover they have transmuted into different being entirely and I write some more…

Are all of those good intentions and goals leading me to hell or publication? It’s hard to say.

 Labor Day saw me scrappy with submissions. I got 9 out. One was rejected by one of the ‘swiftest’ markets, (with a note to go ahead and try submitting there again) so I sent it right back out to another market, but still–8 different stories are in the queue of 8 different magazines at this moment from that fit of fury.

 I’m very nervous about one of them. I sent “Unwitting Witness” to Vestal Review. As you may know, they accepted “The Virgin Forest” for their 36th Issue. I haven’t submitted to them since because I wanted the same ‘quality’ and ‘tone’ as that piece, and in my humble opinion, I think I was finally able to match it.

 So, with the previous submissions, I am at 20 things sent out. I just checked the mail and there was a copy of Tin House waiting for me, but no rejections (or acceptances) so, I’m going to finish watching “My Hero,” then I’m off to read, and write and most importantly, re-write.