Changes, changes

There have been quite a few things in the works for me lately, no small number of which related to writing. Some of which, such as my coming reentry into book reviewing, were planned and, hence, expected (the book I chose won’t be published until next month, so I’m still waiting, though I actually just sent off a request for an ARC; we’ll see what happens). Others have come as more of a surprise.

First and foremost, I found out last week that I will be taking a 50% cut in my hours at work. This is not unexpected with the work cycle I’ve seen in our office, and with the State budget issues, but the accompanying 50% cut in my paycheck will be depressing. However, I’m trying to look on the bright side, to think of how much time this will give me to devote to my own projects. When I do look at the move in this light, I really can’t see it as a bad thing.

Which brings me to my next item. I received my first ever personal rejection a few weeks back. It came right in the middle of a serious dip in my writing self-esteem, and I can’t say how much those few sentences have done to re-energize me. I had submitted the story on a sort of whim, mostly because I’d found out that a fellow graduate of mine had recently had something accepted somewhere, but since then, I’ve gotten serious about polishing and submitting work. It’s been difficult to balance this with the work on my novel, but no one ever said the learning stops when you get your degree.

Along with the rejection also came an invitation to submit a guest blog post to the journal’s blog. I sent something off last night finally (there were some issues that resulted in the slow turnaround time on the project, issues that I hope I’ll be able to talk about someday relatively soon but can’t right now), and now I just wait to see if they are going to accept it as is or if they want some revisions (or something completely different). When I get a final say so, I’ll post a link here.

I also signed up for a creative writing evening class. Not because I expect the class to substitute for the classes I had at EWU but because I miss the community of writing, of sitting around a table discussing work. I’m also thinking I might start a writing group. I know a few people who might be interested. The main thing that’s holding me back (that pushed me to this class before starting something on my own) is that I’m not sure how much time and energy I want to invest in something. But now that I will only work 20 hours each week… Well, it might be the perfect time.

Of course, eventually I’ll have to find some work that pays to fill those hours, but I think that, for the time being, this arrangement might work out to be something better than it first seemed.

Day Zero update: submissions and contests

I’ve never had more blog visitors than I did on March 1, the day I started my Day Zero Project. It’s inspiring to know how many people were interested in what I’ve decided to do with the next few years.

Technically I’m already a bit behind, since I need to be completing one goal every ten days, but I’m not concerned. Not only do I have something like 988 days left, I’ve also made some progress toward some of the bigger goals (such as blog posts [2] and massages [2]). I’ve also started filling a box in my room with items I want to give away (or get rid of). I haven’t counted how many things I have in there, but there are some books, some shirts, two sweaters, a pair of sweatpants, and some hats/gloves/scarves. I’m also preparing my old computer to be donated, along with an old router and modem.

I also submitted a piece of fiction to a new journal today. It’s a piece that’s been rejected twice already, but that’s just the way things go. And actually, now that I look at my list, that does cross something off, because I had “Resubmit something that’s been rejected.” Awesome!

I know that sounds like sort of a cop-out goal, but rejection is something that I’ve struggled with over the years. Namely, I have this crazy large fear of failure that often means I won’t try anything that I’m not positive I will be successful at. So to continue to send something out even after failing is a big deal for me. The piece is out at two journals right now and I have a long list of other places to try if I get more rejections (which I probably will because I’ve decided to start at the most prestigious places and work my way down).

I also am submitting a piece to a contest this week. As part of my nonfiction portfolio we have to send a piece to either a contest or as a general submission, and I decided, for the first time ever, to try a contest. Now nonfiction isn’t really my thing—if anything, the workshop showed me that I have a much stronger natural affinity/ability for fiction than I do for nonfiction. I have some theories on why this might be (one of which involves an unencouraging professor), but I’m really okay with being stronger in one area. Besides, I enjoy fiction more. This one, however, I won’t be crossing off the list, since what I really intended when I wrote item 12 was “submit to a fiction contest,” since I feel that will be a much better gauge of my skill level.

Submission time

I finally decided to stop being a chicken and sent off a story for publication. I sent it off to Ploughshares and Tin House through their respective submission managers. I figure I should start more toward the top of the list of journals and gradually work my way down until I find a place for this story (assuming, of course, I am able to find a place for it).

I started this piece in December of 2006. It was the night before my family flew to Hawaii, and I wrote it on the floor of our hotel room at about 3 in the morning. It was only two or so pages then. I revised it for my workshop in the fall–added about eight pages to it–then did a few more revisions in the following months. We’ll see if it was all enough.

Anyway, it could be a few months before I hear anything back, so I’m going to put the piece away and spend time on some new pieces. I’ve got a few other pieces well into the revision stage, so maybe I’ll clean some of those up as well.