So I finished a story and sent it out to The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s, McSweeney’s, Ploughshares, and Open City. I also submitted 30 pages of "North of Sunset" to a few small literary presses. I thought I’d start with some longshots for the story because it could potentially launch my career. It would be like winning the lottery. Sending out work makes me feel better: at least I’m trying, there’s always hope.
The NYer doesn’t allow simultaneous submissions which seems unfair. The likelihood of them publishing anything by me is remote, so I’ve got to wait around six months for a rejection letter while the story remains stagnant. Don’t tell anyone, but I submitted it to other places as well.
I haven’t written too many stories in my life. This one may be my favorite. I’ve always been more interested in writing novels. If I invent characters, I want to stay with them for a while. I become attached. I’m more interested in the scope of the novel. A good story can have the scope of the novel, but still a novel is less confined. I also think I might not be a good enough writer to write good short stories. It’s seemed strange to me that student writers are always taught to start with stories. To me, it’s harder to be that concise--I’d rather lay it all out, go in different directions. I’ve thought that I’d write stories later in life, which is backwards.
The advice I give to anyone who asks me about writing: keep going and don’t read it. You can only learn to write by writing. People have told me that they’ve stopped halfway because they were unhappy with it. If it’s not genius right away, they give up. It can make you feel like shit to read what you’ve written. I’ve read interviews with a lot of writers who say that their first drafts are horrible--unless you’re Jack Kerouac who was against revision. Spontaneous bop prosody and all. Bob Dylan also didn’t like rerecording anything. But Raymond Carver did forty revisions or more on a story. Not revising is insane to me. But I don’t revise until the thing’s basically done. If not, I’d rewrite the same page over and over again. I can be a perfectionist--which is tedious, like reading the same novel 100 times in a row, and doesn’t lead to perfection. Someone said somewhere, "Art is not finished, it’s abandoned."
I also don’t read a lot of short fiction. So I have a limited knowledge of the thousands of small lit magazines. If any of you know of good places to send the story, I’d be grateful for the help: Small magazines that I’d have a chance with and publish darker fiction--not brutally dark, just not calm.
- ► 2009 (65)
- ► 2008 (26)
- ► 2007 (56)
- ► 2006 (157)
- ▼ February (17)