A Writer’s Journal: May & June ’21

Stories In Progress:

  • ‘Book of Elders’ (Revision)
  • Queer, Plant short story (Outline)

Hello! Welcome to July! It’s my birth month and actually my birthday is tomorrow, the 2nd! I’m hitting a new decade along with a new year. I’m excited to enter my 30s. From my friends who are already in the 30s club, it sounds like it will be an amazing time. Judging by some of the successes I’ve already experience these past few months, I know great things are around the corner.

Aside from my birthday, I have a couple of other reasons to celebrate! I have two short stories coming out this month! ‘With Love, From Waystation #4’ will be published with Typehouse Literary Magazine any day now. (The issue is currently with the printer and hopefully by the end of next week, I’ll have a link to share.) ‘Final Correspondences From A Dying Planet’ will be published with Andromeda Spaceways Magazine and should be out in the world towards the end of July. I’m thrilled to share these stories with everyone. They’re both near and dear to my heart.

(And ‘Final Correspondences’ could receive a longer sequel….maybe….I’m thinking about it….)

With all that good news out of the way, let’s look back on what I’ve been up to since May. I’m still chugging away on my novella and most of my time was spent reading through the first draft and making notes on what works, what could work better and what needs to be abandoned. I also received feedback from one of my beta readers towards the end of June and I’m hoping to receive more comments from another reader in a week or two. When I initially finished my first draft, I thought it would be a complete mess. I feared that it would need tremendous work and a major facelift in order for the main story to work. I thought my beta readers would tear it apart.

But that wasn’t the case….

There were parts of the story that I absolutely loved and am eager to revisit. There are sections that I think slow the narrative down and could use a bit of polishing. Of course some of the characters need more ‘oomph’ to make them feel realistic and lifelike. But overall it’s a decent first draft. Not perfect. But not complete garbage either. And I think that’s an improvement. (Writing better first drafts is a new goal I’ve created for myself.) My beta reader also complimented my prose, which, speaking honestly, was heartwarming to read. I’m still trying to figure out what prose is and what my personal writing style is like. To hear that I’m doing something well is a great honor.

This entire novella process taught me that writing is an endurance sport. There were nights where I felt like resting after work and didn’t pick up my draft, even though I knew I should read at least one page. I originally planned to read the entire work in about two weeks to give myself time to revisit my outline and flesh out my characters. But those two weeks stretched into two months and I have plenty notes, but no new outline or a deeper understanding of my characters’ motivations. The antagonist feels flat and needs the most work. I hope to spend all of July and part of August working on draft two. But it looks like I may spend the first few days of this month organizing my thoughts and interrogating my characters. Which isn’t the worst scenario, but also not ideal.

I’m fortunate and privileged to have a job where I accumulate paid time off and I’m taking the 1st-7th off. Mostly because I want to relax and enjoy my birthday! But also so I can make some headway with draft two.

It’s not all dire though. I’m not starting from scratch and I can make up my daily word count by taking sections from draft one and adding them to draft two. And I still meet with my weekly writing group, which gives me dedicated time to sit and write. So I have a lot of work ahead, but I have resources that will assist me along the way.

I also hope to draft a short story for another anthology that’s caught my eye. Xenocultivars: Stories of Queer Growth is currently running a kickstarter campaign to receive funding for publication. The campaign ends July 6th and is close to the halfway point of their goal. If you’re able to give, consider making a pledge to help get this project off the ground. If it’s funded, they will open up for submissions and I have a story idea brewing. I’d love to get one more acceptance this year if I can. (I believe the turnaround time for Neon Hemlock’s novella submissions is about 90 days, so I likely wouldn’t hear back until the beginning of 2022.) FIYAH magazine, in partnership with LeVar Burton, is also running a writing contest. The winner will receive $500 and have their story read on the LeVar Burton Reads podcast. I’d love to enter this if I can, but I also recognize my plate is already full and this may be something I pursue at another time.

As always, I’m juggling a lot and with the country slowly opening back up, I’m also trying to spend time outside my house. (In a safe manner of course because the pandemic is still here!) But I finally visited the cute coffee shop near my house and I think I found the perfect spot to write my novella’s second draft! I’ll check back in at the end of the month to share my progress!

Last point: I hired a professional photographer and held a photoshoot to celebrate me turning 30! I loved the entire experience and I think I have a photo I can use as my official writer’s headshot! This is just one of the many photos from the shoot. If you’re in the DMV area and want to book the photographer, reach out to Danielle Day of LovelyDay Photography! She’s amazing!

Photo by LovelyDay Photography

Until next time! Happy Writing!

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