I have short stories inside me again. They boil and bubble over at the most inconvenient of times, when it is impossible for me to write them down. The flame burns itself out whenever I finally put pen to paper, so that all I accomplish is to jot down a quick summary of the ideas, so it is all captured at least and will continue to simmer. I can only hope that the story boils again the next time I sit down to write.
The spark for this long-lost flame has been my copy of Dzanc Books' Best of the Web 2010. While looking for some fresh reading material without taking a trip to the bookstore this weekend, I found it sitting on my shelf, brand new, corners unbent, spine uncreased. This monster of a volume scolded me for buying it months ago, only to almost immediately forget its existence. Shamed, I shoved it in my bag and declared it my day's reading. Within its pages, I discovered short gems of contemporary literary fiction. Writers I've heard of in magazines I've been rejected by. Writers I've never heard of in literary journals with unfamiliar names. Some spoke to me, others were forgettable. Some I could even finish, others I devoured. But through reading them, I was reminded of a fact that I should be painfully aware of, but choose to ignore for the most part: I don't read nearly enough short stories. For someone who wants to write (and does) literary short stories, my reading tastes tend to run in the opposite direction.
So in an effort to rectify this and to celebrate my rekindled spark, I am declaring August "Short Story Month" here in Happy Writing Land! What this means for me is threefold:
So to recap that means I will be reading a minimum of 62 stories, writing 31 new blog posts, and writing approximately 15,500 words dedicated exclusively to short stories. Aside from this new project, I do intend to continue editing my novel, so don't think I am going to use the month of August for slacking off in that department.
Now, I don't want to keep all the fun to myself, so I plan to do at least 3 giveaways throughout the month -- maybe more! So stick around and join me on my short story journey!
Happy Short Story Month!
So I am officially in the process of keying in my hand-edits, and naturally adding more edits as I go, to my first draft of my YA novel, which, when I am done, will mean I have the second draft officially done. This is something I have danced around doing for quite some time. Part of that is just good old fashioned procrastination. (What? I'm not the only writer guilty of this?) But a good chunk of it has been rooted in a deep, dark, emotional place for me. I finished my first draft of my novel last August. It was a high like no other. I was walking on air for a solid week and ready to dive back into to draft two, sooner rather than later. But then, like with so many of life's unexpected twists, my phone rang and priorities shifted. I lost my brother a week after I finished my novel. And going back to that happy place just didn't seem like a valid option for a long time.
Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hearing Dawn Turner Trice, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, and a YA author herself, speak for the second time at a workshop. Last year during the same workshop, I submitted a page of my novel for her feedback, and she was amazingly supportive and encouraged me to finish it. A month later I did. This year, I was able to tell her how much her words of encouragement meant to me and shared with her that I was now working on the second draft. Because she had shared her own novel-writing process with us the year before, and she spoke of the loss of her sister during the writing of her novel, I shared my own loss with her, and she said that I would be seeing my novel in a whole new light now. Losing someone you love changes everything.
She was right, of course.
Now when I wrote my novel, I believed it had little to do with my life. It was just a good story burning inside me, nothing more. Something I thought that tweens and teens might enjoy reading. Certainly something I enjoyed writing. But as I crept back towards my novel -- editing it in bursts and fits then going back to ignoring it, I began to suspect that there was more of me, more of my family, and more of my brother buried deep in those pages, than I realized during the writing process. I now know that my novel is for him, and that knowledge carries me through the deep, dark, emotional place that I avoided for so long.
I introduced you all to my main character here for the first time, so today I thought I'd take the opportunity to introduce you to her sister, since really, today's post is largely about siblings.
So how are all of you doing? I hope you are all writing brilliant things!
The last two months have been busy for me as I make plans for the future. (I will keep you posted when I have news on that front!) I hope to get back to regular blogging again by the end of the summer, but in the meantime if you are dying to read some of my work, you can find one of my stories in Volume II of Magnolia: A Journal of Women's Socially Engaged Literature. This is actually not a flash piece for once, so take advantage and get your copy to read a rare longer short story by me.
I've been writing lots of short works and am getting back into editing my novel. Hoping to have lots of exciting news to share in the near future. In the meantime, keep writing, folks!
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