I really should’ve updated last Friday, because I had something amazing to write about. Though, I was probably too wiped out from the amazing thing to write about it so immediately.
I’ve been making a list for myself of contests I want to submit writing to, of residencies and grants I want to apply for. And their deadlines. I’ve been checking the list every day and since I just made it, some of the deadlines are coming up fast. You could say some of the deadlines are NOW.
So last Thursday, I had plans to watch the Saints game out with some friends and I canceled on them. I stayed home with the game on downstairs (my office is in a loft) and cranked out a 3,000 word story. from scratch. in three hours. And then submitted it to a fiction contest. While I’m not advocating reckless unprepardness, I’m proud of myself for refusing to let the deadline daunt me. Submitting is the thing. Winning would be nice, but submitting is the objective. Creating the work and putting it out in the universe instead of holding it back till its perfect. Perfect sounds like a great idea–and it is, in moderation–but for a perfectionist like me, who’s developed an unfortunate and chronic case of lily-liver, perfect is dangerous. I’m a good writer. And I’m a good editor. I can be good at those things forever and perfect a thing to death, never letting it see the light of day outside of a few readers. OR, I can be brave and put my work out in the world, let it have a test run and see how it looks when it returns.
The best part of this mad dash to write a story was that my sister and I did it together, counseling each other in phone conversations and via text. And we both submitted to the contest.
So that was last Thursday.
This Thursday, yesterday, had a sense of deja vu. The day followed an almost identical path. I had plans with friends to watch the Saints game. And I canceled. To stay home and put together my submission for another fiction contest. The friends were supportive last week and rather incredulous this week. And while it sucked to disappoint them and ground myself to the house, the postmark deadline is today and I have a busy day, so I had to prepare the submission last night if it was ever going to get done. And it had to get done. Or else.
This time, I took a different path. I submitted a discarded chapter from my novel The Winter Circus, a chapter which doesn’t belong in the novel anymore but I’ve always loved. The events still take place in the world of the novel, but the readers don’t get to see it in real-time action anymore. It might be referenced by characters in passing, but won’t be fleshed out. So, it’s perfect. The chapter was under the word limit and required very little tweaking, as it was already pretty strong as a stand-alone. And since the chapter no longer exists in the novel, publication in a magazine is a way it may potentially reach readers.
Again, my sister and I had a war council as we decided to beat the deadline and submit regardless of the obstacles. The last I heard, she had an idea and was rolling with it. So, submitting is the thing. As Jamey always says, you gotta play the literary lotto. If you wanna win, you gotta buy a ticket.
In between these two Deadline Thursdays, I applied for a residency. Don’t worry, I took a bit more time with that one and wasn’t quite as crunched against the deadline. And now, I’m armed with a list and building the battle plan. I’ll have my war council convene as needed. We are fierce and we’re already winning.
P.S. If you’ve sensed a new determined, even war-like, attitude from me about my writing lately, I’d have to say a lot of it probably comes from reading The War of Art, which is the best and the scariest and the truest writing book I’ve read yet.