I finished my second story in March (hurray! Goal met for March-check!), and I still have six ships at sea (although this almost feels like cheating, since they’re the same six…sigh). One finished for this month, and one yet to go. (Yay! But ugh, it’s beginning to feel like a roller coaster here!)
And the Rest…
I’m in “waiting mode.” And I hate waiting. Don’t you?
In the doctor’s office waiting room, I read a book that I bring along (if I can tune out the blasted daytime TV inanities, that is!). In a grocery store line, I plot stories, or play with ideas. Walking in the woods, I tune in to the vibrancy around me, let it fill me and soon I’m tossing ideas for stories around like dandelions toss seeds into the breeze.
This is all good, all filling of otherwise ‘wasted’ time with things important to me. But waiting on story submissions?
Waiting for comment — any comment — on a submitted story is like waiting for fingernails to finish scratching down a chalkboard (yeah, I’m old enough to know that sound!). After awhile, even a rejection is a relief. It means I’ve heard something, after all. My submission, hard-written and edited to the best of my abilities, wasn’t lost in the ether, or ignored in the slush. Actual comments are wonderful! A real human read this, had enough opinion on it to write a few words– weeeee! And an acceptance is wonderful, like discovering AIR has a flavor, and that flavor is happiness.
Oh, but the wait. And waiting on six is worse than waiting on one. I assume that the wait on one will be long, and dreary. But with six? Well, golly-gee, I gotta hear something every week, right? After all, the odds are that at least one of ‘em will be kicked out of the running, or something, every so often. Maybe, once every six weeks?
So I wait. And I write more, of course. But my heart is divided. I long to comfort those stories still out there, those ships sailing the seas for me. “I haven’t forgotten you. I haven’t given up on you,” I’d like to tell them. But the new stories, they clamor for my attention. And rightly so. Without my full attention, these new things forming under my care will never take shape, will never find life or a voice. They’ll wither alone in the dark, undernourished and starved of my attention. Then I’ll have no new stories to send out, just tattered shreds of what-might-have-been.
If I stop writing and just wait, I also stop growing. Each time I write a story, my ability to increase a story’s complexity grows. Each time I finish a new story and edit it, I see how I’ve grown and matured. Sure, there’s always a story that just doesn’t gel, that can’t quite get its feet under it. But most find a shape and a form that please me (at least after a month in the closet and a few dozen edits). And the ‘closet’ is filling up, the editing folder expanding.
Soon, the number of my ships at sea will expand. I’ll have grown as a writer, and my confidence will grow, too. I know this, and I believe that some of my stories will find publication light-of-day. Oh, the joy!
But until then, I wait. And write on in the dark.