When I started writing, (in seventh grade), I wrote a full length book. That wonderfully rich monstrosity took me almost two years to write. It’s only 100 pages long and was hand written. The pink notebook cover has since come off and the tome is now lovingly held together with a rubber band.
It’s not great, the book. It’s barely good. But I adore every last thing about it.
I started several stories after that, book length stories, though they never made it to book length. I was trying to figure out how to write a book then. Hell I was trying to figure out how to WRITE back then. It didn’t bother me that I wasn’t finishing anything, because I was a writer and that’s what you do. I wrote to figure out how I wrote. Of course, at that time I wasn’t telling anyone that I was attempting to write in the first place.
If you’re familiar with me or my story, you know that I didn’t find my feet in the writing world until I was in my early twenties and took a fiction writing class. Two things about that class that I will forever be grateful for, the teacher, Robert Olmstead (a man I love to hate) taught me how to take criticism and rejection (the asshole.) But most importantly, I will always, always be thankful to my dear friend Sophie for taking that class with me and holding my hand so I didn’t have to go it alone.
I learned about the short story in that class, and I learned how to love the short story then. Writing them, reading them. It was like someone taught me what to do while I was waiting for my mind to figure out how to weave my way through the book writing process.
My short stories have been the dark, Emo sister to the books I write. Not so much an evil twin, but pretty much the polar opposite. My books are fun, crazy adventures that entertain. I’m not trying to change the world with my books, but I am trying to amuse my reader. My short stories, on the other hand, they get all the gunk out so I can write those books. They are uncomfortable and moody. Brooding and strange. I play with literary devices I wasn’t even aware were things I ever wanted to play with.
People who read my short stories are often tempted to pay for a therapy session for me or they make intense eye contact and ask if everything is really okay.
If I am to believe the numbers in my file folders on my computer, I have something along the lines of 274 short stories.
So this year, as I am still attempting to get an agent, I also decided I need to try and get some of these short stories published. I decided that I was going to submit one short story a day and one agent query a day. What happens when you do that? Well, a few months down the line, you start to get at least one rejection a day, if not two or three.
And it sucks.
And it wounds and it burns and that scab isn’t going to heal because, oh wait, here comes another rejection letter.
So then my days fill with strange silent pondering moments where I wonder why write at all. And I face my mortality and all that shit. Then I find peace within myself and convince myself I’m going to stop.
All of it, I’m just done.
Never going to write a word again, not even for myself.
…then, shit like this happens.