A Writer’s Journal: July

Words Written:

  • 15, 456 words

Stories Worked On:

  • Reclaiming Tess (formerly known as the Legacy Short Story)
  • Ocmulgee River Dragon
  • Life is Strange inspired story
  • Tracking Numbers (a personal essay)

July was a rough month. Writing wise, I really didn’t hit a productive streak until the end of the month. And my personal life was in flux for most of the month. I tried to spend time being as creative as possible, but life interfered often and I struggled to focus on a task for long stretches of time.

Despite this hectic month, I managed to accomplish something major! I submitted a short story to FIYAH, a speculative fiction magazine that publishes writers of the Africa diaspora. FIYAH is one of my dream publications and I follow them closely on social media. The story I submitted, “Reclaiming Tess” is a story that’s near and dear to me and while I’m satisfied with the final draft, I’m nervous about how it will stack up against other stories being submitted. (Where have I heard that before?)  I’m sure I will eventually find a home for this story, but I’d love if it was accepted by FIYAH, even if I have to change parts of it. I’m not sure how long it will take to hear back from the magazine. If I had to take a guess, I’ll hear some news towards the end of August or beginning of September. But I’ll be sure to let you all know no matter what the outcome is.

It’s strange submitting again. It’s been nearly two years since I last had a story worth submitting somewhere. And FIYAH doesn’t allow for simultaneous submissions, so I have to slowly dip my toe back into the submission pool. But I can see growth within myself and with my writing, so while I’m still a little afraid when I submit something, I also know that my story is strong in many ways.

Now that I have a story that’s ready for submission, I’m going to spend what little time I have left in my summer break revising another story that I intend to submit to One Story once they open their submissions in September. The story, “Ocmulgee River Dragon” is another story close to my heart, a story that deals with family (naturally), breaking through walls, magic and fishing. I’m currently working through my first rounds of edits and every time I pick it up to read, I fall in love with it all over again. I shared it with a close friend and she absolutely loved it, so I can’t wait to revise it and shift some things around to make it that much stronger.

And I’m drafting a third story inspired by the video game series ‘Life is Strange.’ I’m still trying to figure out what this story is about and what are the major scenes. I originally wrote most of it in a composition notebook, before typing it into a Word document. But I didn’t like how it was turning out and decided last week to restart the entire story, keeping most of the opening scenes. This story will be a challenge. Of all my speculative fiction pieces, it’s the one with the largest presence of magic (so far at least). It starts with a supernatural, magical event that has ramifications on later events. I think this is why I struggle to draft this piece. I’m unsure of the source of magic and the rules of this specific type of magic. The rules of magic/power are unclear in the “Life is Strange” series, which is a strong point in my opinion. But I think the creators have a sense of how magic works, even if they don’t reveal their whole hand to the audience. I think it’s important that I have similar understanding of magic in my story. Hopefully, as I continue to draft it, I’ll have a clearer sense of how everything works.

One thing I feel I’m missing in my writing life currently is a dedicated, local community of writers who I can turn to. Of course, I have my friends from graduate school, but their life, much like my own, is often hectic and it’s hard to take time to write and critique my stories. I appreciate their support, but I would like a community I can turn to when I’m stuck on a story. I went to a critique at one of my town’s library and while it was different from the workshop format I experienced in graduate school, it was still interesting. I’m hesitant to fully commit myself to this group just yet. Next month, I’m going to try out a speculative fiction group, which I may enjoy more because it’s in line with my current type of writing. No matter what, I hope to find at least one or two people near me who I can use as readers on a regular basis.

One lesson I learned this month is the importance of taking care of yourself. I ask myself often what do I do to take care of myself and how can I unwind in a healthy way when I need a break. Living creatively is rewarding because I get to take my ideas from a mere thought to something tangible that people can enjoy. But it can also be draining, especially when I fail to see the results I want. And it’s even more draining when my writing has to compete with so many other parts of my life. Writing is my escape and some of my best stories come when I’m experiencing a strong emotion. But I need something else that can be my refuge when writing is the source of my frustration.

I’ll end this post by saying this: take care of yourself. It’s hard existing in this chaotic world and it often feels like we don’t have control over our lives. But we can make choices for ourselves and we can slow down, even as the world spins by. Find something that helps you relax and join a supportive community that will uplift you when you need it. You don’t have to go through this alone, I promise.

Enjoy the last days of summer. Honestly, I’m looking forward to fall, cooler days and being able to enjoy the outdoors without sweating through my clothes. And of course, I can’t wait for all of the pretty foliage!

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My Mums are starting to come out!

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