Working towards being a writer

I reworked Rules of the Game, and posted it up on Zoetrope, in hopes that I will get some decent feedback. I’m not completely sold on this site as far as being a good place to get valuable feedback, but I haven’t got many physical resources right now. I’ve posted a small update of the story so far.

“They beat that boy like a horse.”

My mother said this as she was standing, preparing pork chops, in the kitchen of our double wide chocolate brown trailer with the built on porch. It wasn’t really our trailer, we didn’t own it, we were just renters. The owner’s tried to make the place seem like a real house by building the porch, and parking it at the top of a cul-de-sac with a decent lawn. The place was probably owned by old people, every place in the Pines were owned by old people; old people just waiting to retire and move up from the Bay or from LA to settle in the foot hills of the Sierra Nevada’s. That’s how my mom would describe it. Old rich people she’d say: comin in and buyin up all the property long before they even moved here. Not that I really knew who owned the place, I never thought of things like owning or renting or retirement or any of that stuff, I was only eight and I didn’t think of any of that; I didn’t think about how many times we had moved, and how many times more we were probably going to move, I just woke up went to school, came home, tried to avoid my mom’s boyfriend, did some chores than went out to play till I had no choice but to return home to go back to a bed. Living in the moment that’s what kids did.

Zoetrope’s All Story is taking submissions for their short fiction contest. I had told myself that I wasn’t going to submit my work to things I had to pay a reading fee for because even though fifteen dollars isn’t much it begins to add up, and I’m poor and I can’t really afford contests, especially since I’m not a strong writer. Still, I think I will take the plunge, and give away my fifteen bucks since aside from winning money you can receive representation. I have till October 1st to get it ready. I had felt pretty good about it up until I just read Christie Hodgen‘s Short Story, Elegy For Elwood Lepoer, published in American Short Fiction vol.12 Issue 44 Summer 2009. Her story was so, SO good. From the very first line to the last- look at this first sentence:

Elwood LePoer, your head was a brick, a block, a lollipop; you were dumb as a stick, a sock, a bag of rocks.

Hodgen grabs you right away and tears you through this great story of growing up in a poor post-industrial town, and what one single moment can do to change a person, even if subtle. I didn’t put the story down I just raced through it and I was impressed with the way she worded things. I could see this girl and these characters. I especially liked the voice she wrote it in, like she was addressing Elwood, well it is an elegy. If you can get your hands on the story I recommend reading it. I also highly recommend American Short fiction as a lit journal, they publish some incredible work by some talented writers.

I enjoy reading short fiction, but I often feel like I am so far behind in the game, and skills of writing. After putting down, Hodgen’s story I thought of mine that I just finished mainly because they have somewhat similar themes, and I thought, mine isn’t good enough it needs more work, it needs to be better, especially if I want to be able to call writers such as Christie Hodgen my peer.

It has been about 3 months since I sent off my short story Sand and Wheat to the two publications, Caketrain and Memorious. Both journal’s wrote in the submission pages that it would be 3 to 6 months before hearing anything. This I think is pretty standard. I’m not holding my breath on getting published, I would like to get it back in order to re-work it as I think it probably needs the work. I know that doing a short story once a week doesn’t exactly lend itself to producing quality work but I’m hoping like anything that it will be like practising a craft and eventually I will grow and improve as a writer. If I want this to be my life this is very much how I need to look at it. Sending out submissions is the same way, I need to practice getting my work out there or I’ll never be seen and I will never improve.


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