Writing progress

As some of you know, I am still She-Shed-less and in dire need of privacy, peace, solitude and a distraction-free space to call my own. As some of you also know, I escaped to mom’s. She has that, and more. ❤ Which is why I can now write a blog post about actual, physical proof that I did something writing related that is not a blog post. Hah.

Yesterday, I submitted a story I wrote years ago to a celebrated online magazine.

The story was something of an autobiographical experience I went through in youth. Originally written in the third person narrative, it read like a fictional tale about a young woman who allowed herself to navigate an unsatisfactory relationship for reasons that may seem rather immature to the wiser, middle-aged brain that occupies my head today.

We’ve all been through this sort of thing: “having a boyfriend” was better than “being single”, especially in the 20s and early 30s.

The online magazine which offered open calls for submissions was looking for personal essays though, not fiction.

I scrolled around the magazine a bit and read some essays. After a while, I dug out my own story from the bowels of my computer archives and re-wrote it in the first person narrative.

Let me tell you about that.

It is a lot easier to write about her experience than it is about my experience. Particularly because I mentioned a few snipped about…sex. 😯

The actual story itself didn’t change as I re-wrote it into the first person. All the predictable, consecutive events remained static. I only changed the pronouns.

But after I did that, and re-read the piece, it became evident that some polishing was required. I had to inject some commentary (mostly introspective snippets) and add a few sentences to tie things together.

While working on that piece I kept thinking how exasperated my potential readers will be. Was I really that naive, and voice-less? Did being with someone, whose main objective was to not appear without a girlfriend (aka any girlfriend), more important than my own needs? How did I continually push my own wants and desires aside? What did I get out of that relationship?

And more importantly, what did I learn?

When I stepped away from my dad’s computer (which has a wonderful, giant screen in a room with a door!) for a little break I pondered whether I had grown and matured at all.

I still do more for others than I do for myself, but for the most part, that’s directly related to the parenting gig (aka the teenage trenches). I’m ok with that. Children need nurturing and parenting well beyond the age of maturity and that often means my needs must wait, for a while anyway.

This is no less true during any phases of parenting. Teenagers may be better equipped to fend for themselves without constant adult supervision than toddlers, or really any kid pre-tween-age, but they still need a lot of direction and mental capacity from the adult(s).

I do have more time to pursue my own interests though. I am doing this right now, staying at my mom’s instead of home, letting half the family figure it out on their own. (They’re fine.)

Main objective however is not just to pursue “a hobby”, but to supplement our income. We have bills to pay and I want to contribute again, after all this absence. (Dog walking doesn’t appear to be very lucrative these days anymore what with everyone plugging into zooms and such at home.)

Still, writing is something I need in my life; I feel empty and discombobulated when I can’t get at a keyboard to pound out all that is swirling inside my head.

So, as an individual who is more than someone’s partner or someone’s mom, I found myself re-visiting the whole topic of need and want while re-writing this memory piece of my youth.

At one point, I returned to the submission guideline page to cross off all the requirements I had met. Editors will disqualify you if you don’t meet their expectations, so I wanted to make sure all my t’s were crossed and my i’s dotted.

They wanted essays sent in via an app called Submittable, which I already use. (And, as an added surprise, there was a nice list of other pieces I had written and submitted before…reminding me that I am not new to this activity.) 🙂

After I logged on to the app, I realized with mounting horror that they also wanted a cover letter.

Ugh.

A cover letter is not a query, or a pitch, but rather, a lead-in, an enticement for whetting the editor’s appetite. The cover letter will be the first thing they read. My job was to lure them to want to read my essay.

It took all day.

Sigh.

Here’s something other writers may feel familiar with: research is a form if procrastination.

I say this because I went off on a tangent looking at how to write an enticing cover letter. I googled and surfed and wrote a draft and changed things and added stuff and subtracted things and set the whole computer on fire…

Ok, I didn’t do the last part. 😛

After a while I decided to damn the internet to hell and started from scratch.

I am not usually a sheep. I don’t typically like following the masses. Although I do follow the submission requirements as outlined, my chosen words, and the order I put them in, is my opportunity do stand out and showcase my skill and competency. I can write an enticing cover letter without following a standard template.

But to get to that point was exasperating. Which is interesting since the entire essay was on exactly that topic: to go along with something, to fit in, to blend with others, to belong. To stay with a man, a lover, for all the wrong reasons.

Exasperating.

I initially approached my cover letter design in the same way I acted during that mediocre relationship experience: do what someone else says, believe my needs are inferior, follow the social norms.

When I scrapped all that and stared at my blank screen, and started fresh, I wrote from the heart. I told my potential editor what this essay was about, how it suited their essay section, and why he, or she, want to read it. But I did it in a crafty, unique way. (We’ll see if they accept it.)

Maybe this writing gig will elevate me into adulthood after all. Finally. 😳

Prologue: I left everything up on the screen and went to have dinner with mom and daughter. When I came back, I re-read the entire thing, fixed a couple of minor typos (isn’t it amazing what you see when you step away for a while?) and then…I hesitated. I suddenly hated the entire piece. I hated my voice, and I hated the way the story flowed.

But. I. Sent. It. Anyway.

If not now, when? 😃

Worst case – they reject it and I submit it elsewhere.

29 thoughts on “Writing progress

  1. I watched Cupcake go through the trials and tribulations of getting her work published, but once she got one thing published, it seems the rest just started happening with less rejections, especially her poetry. Now she has two short stories published and is almost done with her full length novel. We are hoping that now her name has traction, getting the novel published might be a little easier. By the way, if your story is about your own trials and tribulations, might want to slip the word “Covid” in there about 193 times.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. Yes, your wife and I have quite some chats about all this!

      I did have some things published in the past but that was a lengthy time ago. Plus my technical writing is out there as well. Trying out the fiction and autobiographical/memoir side is a different ball game. I’m looking forward to the challenges even though they scare me a bit. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Research as procrastination. That’s something with which I am far too familiar — it’s just too easy to wander into some internet rabbit hole and lose an evening.

    Best of luck with the story submission.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yay! So proud of you for following through; which, btw, makes me feel guilty as hell. So I wrote a piece to submit and now I’m too terrified to submit it. I thought the piece was good, I got a friend to read it and she did a bit of polishing. I think it reads much better now. However, I don’t have a clue about how to send it. Maybe I need to get drunk first. I think I’m supposed to introduce myself in a cover letter, I’m supposed to have an “about the author” paragraph and, of course, there’s the actual story to submit. If you have any and I mean ANY ideas about what I need to do to get this out — I get literal knots in my stomach and my head starts swimming when I think about it — I would appreciate it. When you get published, you will let us know so we can read your story, right? Again, way to go! Mona

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Mona for your comment. It’s been hit and miss for years, this whole submitting things for publication. Blogging is so much easier! lol

      I don’t have a lot of advice other than go with your gut. Worst case scenario someone says they’re not interested and then you can send it someplace else I guess.

      The internet has open calls for submission. Just type that into a browser and look for what appeals to you. That was how I started.

      Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I imagine hitting the send key without second guessing yourself is the hardest part of being a writer. But you should never be reticent about putting yourself in your stories, that’s why we avid readers read. To hear someone’s unique voice.
    Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. If you can make a few extra dollars as a writer, that is great! There might be a few of us searching for the same thing and it does make you sound so clever if you can! It might be easier to find an online job taking service calls but you send it out. Half the battle is sending it out. The letter is hard to write. I am not sure my letter ever enticed anyone but I usually can’t spend too much time on it as I get bored reading about me and want to move on, as usual.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If I do the same thing regularly it gets easier. 🙂

      The research is the most time consuming part. And, a lot of venues don’t pay. But I have this blog to post free stuff on, so I don’t typically go to other free places. Anyway, it’s been interesting. I’ve done this twice before and landed some success but this time I’m doing it with more focus.

      Thank you for your comment, I know you understand from personal experience. 🙂

      Like

  6. Good for you! Writers are always their own worst critics. Best to hit submit before you talk yourself out of it. Like you said, you’ve got nothing to lose.

    I could write a book on remaining in toxic relationships, as I’m sort of an expert on the subject. And I can’t blame youth on that, as I was already pushing 40 at the time. We all make mistakes; best we can do is learn from them and move on. I wouldn’t be with Tara now if I hadn’t not been with her then, if that makes sense.

    Liked by 1 person

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