Releases always make me giddy.
It doesn’t matter how long or short the story is, the amount of time and energy spent creating a new world pays off. Headstones, hold a special place in my heart for many reasons but the main one is that it is my favorite of my own works. As soon as I started writing it I knew I had something special.
This is one of my left handed pieces. My ambidextrous nature can be a pain at times. There is nothing more annoying than waking up and not knowing which hand will want to take over. On the flip side, the days where my brain knows right away are my most productive.
I don’t buy into the idea that left handed individuals are more creative. I’ve met mundane lefties and super talented righties. However, being able to switch gears does offer me differing perspectives. (It may also play into my bipolar issues-but you take the good with the bad).
My left handed stories take much longer to write. Some of my most well-received stories are the ones where I decided to fuck with myself and alternate writing maybe a paragraph or even just a ling with one hand and then switching to the other. Playing with my own abilities is part of my craft. Talking about it alone makes me hungry for more exploration.
I never want to stop challenging myself and improving my personal style.
It does come with it’s ups and downs. Headstones took 2 years to write. I would get drunk on rum and let my left hand go nuts, but there were long periods where I psyched myself out and wouldn’t touch the notebook that contained it. I’d get to a good stopping point and let it sit for weeks, working on other projects.
This was definitely a turtle’s pace job.
I loved the concept so much I feared my own inadequacy.
My skills needed work and the characters took on so much emotion that they haunted me at times. This is not a spooky ghost story. It is told from the ghosts’ perspective. Despite that desire to develop a fully cohesive world that lived within our own, I also hoped to make it a story readers could connect to. That is often the main goal of all my stories, but this one demanded it.
I ran it through so many edits and was only chicken enough to allow one or two people to read it before submissions. My confidence may waver during the writing process, but I usually have the ability to bolster my spirits and dive head first into rejections.
Some stories get accepted right away, others have a longer journey. I determined to test it out with tougher, higher paying markets and it stung. Eight rejections in and I feared that my baby, my prized piece wasn’t good enough.
Eight rejections feels like a lot in the world of short stories. Novels are another world, but my husband loved, Headstones, as much as I did and encouraged me to try again. Each rejection is different. Form rejections are the most painful because it lends no explanation, thankfully of the 8 a couple gave some feedback. It seemed that my little story ran a bit long for some publications, for others they wanted more.
I went to work and primped it up as best I could. At 6,500 words, it did seem a bit thick. I sat down and researched my list of trusted publications and narrowed it down to the ones who also accepted novelettes and BAM! just like that…I had…a rewrite request from The Society of Misfit Stories, a place that publishes longer short stories.
The work never ends.
That’s a natural first reaction. After taking a breath, relief and gratitude came over me in rushes. This publication appreciated my story and its heart. They had just a few suggestions and requests to make it ready for their readers. I took a couple of days to clear my head and then swam back in.
Altering your own work is one of the most frustrating aspects of being an author. You think the story is ready, but something’s not translating properly. The work keeps coming, but tackling it with a good attitude and accepting that outside input is necessary to create a palatable story is the only way to last in this industry.
I put in the work, resubmitted, and now it’s release day. My initial goal remains to get this baby in print, and it will be. Patience is a virtue because it holds power. Today is only the ebook release of Headstones, but The Society of Misfit Stories has also contracted it for an anthology that will be released later this year.
Reality has a way of making dreams come true with a spice of humor. It smacks you with timelines and edits. I’ll take whatever comes because this is where I want to be.
So take a read.
What do you think of my story?