Last Thursday, I sent the third draft of my story to an editor for a manuscript review. Note the choice of the word “story”. Not novel. Not its working title. Just a story.
Now, self doubt and insecurities roost upon my shoulders whispering sweet insults into my ears. The title is silly. It doesn’t fit any genre. It’s too long. It starts too slow. The setting, characters, scene, etcetera, aren’t developed. Could you have put in more commas?
Instead of listening, I’m countering with my best jabs. I’ve written a 400 page novel. All 124,000 words add up to a story. I wrote, learned, revised, learned, and revised again. I did it! And I’ll revise one more time and then search for an agent and/or a publisher. Imagine.
Then, while my story gathers thanks-but-no-thanks pink slips, I’ll be writing the second draft of my second novel, Fault Lines. That’s right. A second complete second novel waiting for rewrite. Plus a third and fourth incubating. Perhaps I’ll write those too.
If I have time.
Because I might not.
In three weeks I start courses toward my Master of Fine Arts. The focus: short stories. Literary short stories. The kind where characters have strong opinions, or do strange things, or the topic is so obscure that critics say it’s groundbreaking, avant-garde, and extraordinary, and I fall asleep halfway through paragraph six.
Or at least that’s what I thought short stories were, and so I feared I didn’t have the experience or attitude for this program. Then I took two classes, and I learned the beauty of a short piece. How each paragraph, every word, must be necessary. I want to learn to write like that.
Today, the devils on my shoulders are silent. Love at First Lilt, my previously unnamed story, is under review, and when I’m writing, I’m happy.
If you’d like to hear my “literary voice”, here’s a flashback cut from Love at First Lilt.