Deciding not to Submit

Two writing contests have come and gone.

My goal was to submit to at least one of these two contests, Zoetrope’s AllStory or Glimmer Train. Both great lit magz, but I decided to pass. My reasoning is that my story is not ready.

I had decided I was going to work on submitting more often, and this is true, but when it comes to contests and reading fees I can not afford to send a crappy story. I am my worst critique true, but at the same time I can tell that my work is not of the caliber that it needs to be in order for me to have even a quarter of a chance of getting submitted. When I say I can not afford to be a crappy writer I mean that literally, reading fees can be as high as 25- 30 dollars sometimes 50 depending on the prize amount offered. I am not going to pay money just to have my story thrown out in the first read. Am I being too hard on myself? No. I don’t think so. It’s true my work is not strong. I’m being too hard on myself when I say my work will never be strong (which I battle with constantly). I do feel frustrated because I do not know how to become a better writer.

I’ve been working on my most recent story for about a month now and there are moments when I think, “okay yes, now this is right,” but then on another read I think, “no, this is still shit.”

The story has changed so much I worry about loosing the initial power and compassion/voice behind the original inception. As an example I have posted how the story began about a week ago and follow it with how it starts as of today:

Early draft

When I was eight most of my childhood emotions had been stored away into tiny Tupperware containers, placed in a basement within my belly and in dark shelving under my ribcage. I’d keep these feelings locked away until they started wanting to live and breath on their own, but it would be a long time before that happened. At eight, it was just quick recordings and storage. It wasn’t often that I would formulate a feeling, attach a name to it then reflect on it again. If I did it was lost somewhere in my body, but the day I stood in the kitchen, watching as my mother was preparing pork chops for dinner, and I told her that I had to come home early because Gary got in trouble, I had made a decision; one of a few decisions that I had come up with on my own, and the emotion, the feeling, didn’t get stored away, but sat in my belly like a bad meal, gurgling and pinching my gut making me nauseous.

Latest draft

I stood in the kitchen, watching my mother, as she prepared pork chops for dinner, her long blonde hair swinging against her back as she shifted her weight dancing around the kitchenette. The scent of the oil and light spices sizzled in the heat and the aroma filled my nose, but I was not hungry. I had made a decision; one of the few decisions that I had formulated all on my own.
Most of my childhood emotions had been stored away into tiny Tupperware containers, placed in a basement within my belly, and in dark shelving under my ribcage. It wasn’t often that I would produce a feeling, attach a name to it then reflect on it again. If I did it was lost somewhere in my body. I’d keep these feelings locked away until they started wanting to live and breath on their own, poking at my back in aches and pains, but it would be a long time before that happened. At age eight, it was just quick recordings and storage.
There had been an “incident” at my friend’s house the day my mother’s boyfriend was coming to dinner for pork chops and buttered mashed potatoes. That day I had watched Gary’s mother beat him because of something I did.

I think the first sentence in the latest draft is the better of the two because it starts off in action- the character is watching, she is doing something, but other than that I am not sure how it is going. I spend hours on just one paragraph sometimes. It’s amazing how much time goes into a small little piece of work and it still never seems to be right. I’m hoping some buzzer will go off in my head letting me know when it is finally ready finally right because until that happens I really don’t know when it will be ready to submit.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s