- 0 words (Wait! I can explain!)
Stories in Progress:
- Buried Amongst Stars
Whew! February was a whirlwind of a month and glancing at my word count, it seems like an unproductive one for me. But let me explain:
This month I had two big applications I wanted to focus on: Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference and Clarion West Summer Workshop. And I am happy to report that I submitted both applications (at the last minute, but that’s beside the point). This is my second or third year applying to Bread Loaf and my first year applying to Clarion. If I’m honest, I’m not expecting to get into Bread Loaf because I suspect that my writing, while it has improved over the years, is not quite at the caliber that the application committee is looking for. If this year brings another rejection from this conference, then I won’t feel too heartbroken.
But I pray that I get into Clarion. Again, I don’t think the quality of my writing is quite at the level needed to get accepted in the workshop. But the other day, while having a conversation with someone, I realized that “quality writing” is subjective. As a writer, I tend to believe that my work isn’t as good as my peers, but a lot of my doubts come from the fact that I’m so closely attached to a piece and I view it through different lens. For many writers, there is this wide gap between where our work is currently and where we want it to be. When looking at my short story/potential novelette “Buried Amongst Stars,” it’s hard for me to envision someone else liking the story because it doesn’t quite fit MY definition of a good story. I see potential in it and I’m working hard to bring out as much of that potential as I can, but it still feels like to reach the best version of my story, I must vault across the Grand Canyon.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is this: we writers are too hard on ourselves. Yes, it’s absolutely important to focus on our craft and strive to improve as much as we can. But rejection, whatever form it comes in, doesn’t mean we’ll never see success. Going back to the conversation I had the other day, the person I was chatting with, pointed out that sometimes we face rejection and it has little to nothing to do with us or our work. There could be outside, mitigating factors that influence a selection committee’s final decision. And this is a perspective I’ve never really considered before. A rejection, while it stings, isn’t always a rejection of me/my work. Sometimes, it wasn’t meant to be and that’s not my fault.
(Let’s see if I remember this when I receive a decision about Clarion.)
It’s fortunate that I learned this in February since the rest of the year will be devoted to submitting my writing to as many places as I can.
This month, I also attended a short class (three weeks) on N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy. I reviewed every book [1,2,3], so be sure to read those posts for my full thoughts. Overall, the class was a fun experience and I like to think that I learned some things about world-building. But the greatest thing about the class was it was the necessary push I needed to start working on a new speculative fiction novel! Which is a nice segue into my plans for March…
March is all about outlining! I may squeeze in some short story edits where I can, but my primary focus next month will be outlining the entire novel idea. I’ve already started jotting down some notes and maybe as we progress through March, I’ll share of my thoughts. But I’m also tempted to keep most of the project a secret until I have a rough draft. I find that the more people I talk to about my projects, the more I lose enthusiasm for it. I start to worry about pleasing other people with my writing, instead of pleasing myself. Until the first draft is done, I won’t go into details about what the story is about. But I can’t wait to eventually share it on here!
March will also bring one additional big application, hopefully. Two years ago, I applied to the Boston Public Library Writer’s Fellowship and I was nearly selected. That near success is one of my proudest accomplishments to date. The application for the 2019-2020 fellowship isn’t live yet, but I suspect it’ll open up sometime in March. As with my other applications this year, I’m apprehensive about this fellowship application because I don’t know if the quality of my writing will be enough. But it’s still important to take this chance.
I’m happy that February is ending. It’s been a difficult month in some ways and it’s made me question this crazy desire to be a writer. Here’s hoping March has some great lessons for me to learn!