The world can be anything

One of my favorite things about writing is transforming seemingly mundane things I come across in the world into something new and amazing inside a story. For example:

A palm frond on the sidewalk = a story about a library on a spaceship

A polaroid = a story about a fake Mars where they keep the final belongings of people in space

A painting of a tree = a story about people who live in trees in an alternate world that exists above our own

Moon Hill in China = a story about a secret world that exists inside Moon Hill in China (this one is a little more literal)

And, after a long submission dry-spell, I finally submitted a new story this morning! It’s just a drabble (exactly 100 words), but it has helped me get back into the rhythm of writing. I’m working on a longer short story as well that I hope to submit by the end of this week.


A Story for 2013

A second story of mine has been accepted for publication in Bards and Sages Quarterly. The story – “Traditions” – will be published in their January 2013 issue. This publication even offers a print copy. I think seeing my name in print on the byline of a story might be a bit more than my fragile author heart can handle.

So now, in the space of two weeks, this entirely hopeless but still aspiring someday-maybe-it-will-happen-for-me-but-probably-not writer has become a soon-to-be twice-over published author. Granted, on a mighty small scale, but it is something to me. And the thrill of those acceptances has confirmed something big, something which badly needed confirming. That there is nothing in this life which feels the same way as finishing a really original wonderful story, sending it into the universe with your heart in your throat, and then, against all reason, having someone else think it is just as original and wonderful as you do.

With this little bit of success to feel good about, I can now step away and focus on the large impending event dropping into my life in exactly a week: The Wedding.

The Editing Process

One other benefit of having a story published is that I had the chance to have a real dialogue with editors about my story. I’ve had friends and acquaintances read my stories before, but this revisions process taught me a lot about what editors are looking for, and what they aren’t. I think it will also help me in my own editing process going forward. Here are a few lessons learned:

1) Ask yourself questions about the story. It can be hard to get enough distance from your own writing to know what the reader has questions about when they’re reading. Try to step back and think about what you’re not explaining enough. There are good questions for the reader to be asking, and there are bad questions. The good questions are the ones that leave your reader wondering more about your world because it’s just so dang interesting. Bad questions are the ones that a reader asks because they don’t quite believe what you’re telling them.

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Finally, Acceptance

For the past few weeks, I have been tossing revisions back and forth with editors for my first published story.

Yes, you heard that right. First. Published. Story.

It comes out in November of this year in Swamp Biscuits and Tea. Fitting, I think, that my first story is published in a journal with tea in the name, but nevermind. It is a great new journal with absolutely wonderful editors. Go read their first issue.

I am immensely proud of this story, which is a sort of darkly whimsical tale of a race of people who live in trees. The title of the story is “It’s Not Safe Below” and that is the last teaser I will offer. But don’t worry, I will be posting the link to it everywhere in November, so you’ll have to try very hard not to read it.