Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Getting Wasted - Writing & Publishing Short Stories

Writing Muse - Cobwebs Of The MindFor a moment in time, I am going to interrupt my series on Blogging, and go back to my original love in life, writing. Posts on writing make up quite a few posts at Cobwebs Of The Mind and it is also for that reason that I started this blog. I am one of those writers who has tasted the sweet nectar of publication a few times, and yet, seeks a great deal more.  The reasons I write are varied. Yet today I truly write because it is a love of the craft and a desire to move people, make them think, make them feel, that motivates me. The following appears on my web site about writing, but I will also put it here.

"In my younger days I wrote because I thought I had something to say and wanted to be rich and famous, (I kid you not.)
Then I wanted to touch people, move them, see them cry or smile or argue over my words.
When my second children's book was published, oh so many years ago, and I was walking down a street and saw it in the window of a bookstore in Jerusalem (imported all the way from the USA), I decided I wrote because of the feeling it gave me at that moment.
As the years went by, I abandoned the rich and famous desire, and I realized that to touch people you had to be real - first and foremost to yourself - and I understood that the feeling of seeing your book in the window of a bookstore or listed at Amazon, while incredible, does not last.
I realized that all the above were excuses. Simply put, I write for me. To bring out the raw, the untouched, the hidden emotion and the passion. To let that voice express itself, first and foremost to my own conscious mind. I write to let the story out so I can read it for myself.
And when I do that, I know I will touch others. I know the book will always be in the window of my mind and that too is an exhilarating experience. And though I have no clue if I will ever be famous or rich, I do know I have made my own world richer, and I know myself that much better."

One of the areas of writing which is probably the most difficult to break into is the short-story genre. I do realize that many individuals have actually broken into full-blown writing careers after having a short story or stories published. I began writing short stories many years ago, (too many to count), and had very little luck with placing them. The two literary agents I have had during these years, have for whatever reasons, ignored the short stories as a "stand-alone" part of my writing career. Without a literary agent it makes the job of submission and acceptance so much harder. Of course this could all be due to the fact that my short stories just don't stand up to par and just don't "make the cut", as it were. That I accepted as the reason and truth behind not being able to sell a short story for many years. However the short stories that I did write and continue to write over the years, traveled with me, from place to place and computer and computer. I never totally wiped them off the disk, nor did I stop writing them. Every now and again I would put pen to paper and somehow the story would start to flow and the words would come out.

As I have already written elsewhere, my short story collection grew and soon without any conscious decision I was calling this collection by the name"Ancient Tales, Modern Legends". It was a way of making these "stories" real to me. A way of making sure I did not loose that last vestige of hope, that all writers have, worthy or not, that their work or works will someday see publication.

This past year, through a series of totally unrelated incidents in the "virtual world" of the Internet, I landed at a newly developing Web Publication Site for short stories, called thedeepening.com. Four editors had just embarked upon a new venture, not an ezine, not a fly by night venture, but a legitimate venture with ISSN registration, to publish short stories. Upon reading their demands for publication, I sighed softly to myself, and knew that they would never pick anything I wrote to publish in thedeepeing.com. The funny thing was, I had not thought for a very long time about getting these stories published. They had been placed on the back-burner. However, a few days before landing at the home page of thedeepening.com, I was asked by a publisher who was discussing a possible work, for what I thought to be my best short story or chapter. A former agent of mine had once expressed the opinion that she thought "The Sunflower" was nearly my best piece (I do not agree by the way) and that is what I sent to this publisher.

I almost navigated away from thedeepening.com. But then I realized that was being silly. I had these stories sitting on my hard disk and in my head, and at this point they were not doing anyone any good, so why not at least try? It took me 15 minutes to pull "The Sunflower" up and reformat it according to guidelines and submit it. It was accepted that very day, and the rest is history.

 thedeepening.com has accepted five of my short stories so far and rejected one, (which I was pretty sure they would reject but I am sticking to my stubborn guns on that story.) I have had the pleasure of exchanging quite a few emails with some of the editors, and their comments which are usually great for my ego, have made me more aware once again of the short story genre. Though I  cannot say, in all honesty, that I have had any agent or publisher banging down my doors as a result. Which brings me to the last story accepted and to be published at thedeepening.com in July, entitled "Reverieing". (No that is not a spelling mistake!)

"Reverieing" is a new story, not one pulled out of the hard disk after years of dormancy. It is a story that for many reasons "wasted me" while writing it, trying to keep myself from becoming too closely entangled with my protagonist. Yesterday I received the electronic galleys of the story, and  I had to go over them for possible mistakes etc. And so I had to read what I wrote yet again, something I do not like doing, once a story is finished. And again the story wasted me. Left me numb. Left me with a feeling of total abandonment.

And I asked myself. Is  a short story that I wrote supposed to leave me like that? Should I not be removed from the venture? Should I not be looking upon it with an objective, non-caring eye? I know not that answer to those questions. I know that Reverieing came from a place deep within me that we all must find from time to time no matter how painful it is and no matter where the road of discovery will eventually lead to.

Yes, I wish I could sell these stories and more, my collection called "Ancient Tales, Modern Legends" to a publisher and of course get an agent who really can make the deals happen. Yes I wish I could use that a springboard into a full time writing career. And yes, I still dream of those possibilities. For now though, I find that after years on the shelf, my short stories are sold and are actually being read. That is a trip for me, no doubt about it. Maybe somewhere in the future, I may get the luck again, and have the right agent land on thedeepening.com and read some of the stories I wrote and be interested enough to take me on as a client. And until that time, I rest with the knowledge that at least some of the subscribers to  thedeepening.com have read, felt and enjoyed some of my writing.

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Edited With Qumana

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