I went back and read the urn story on Monday. The first half isn't working, but the second half really, really is. I think the contrast is between a half where the narrating character interacts with another person, and a half where the narrating character is mostly inside her head. I put in the bit with the other character because the rules of writing told me I sort of had to, couldn't write a story that was all internal, but it so clearly isn't working that I'm wondering if I'm supposed to just stay internal for this one.
My plan is to write the beginning a few different ways and see what fits, although I haven't put my money where my mouth is in that regard just yet. I was thinking it over in my thinkin' chair and I began to wish that I had a sort of twin writer-companion. Someone 100% available whom I wouldn't feel bad about nagging on a regular basis, someone with whom I could knead out the whole stinking thing through all its drafts without guilt for taking him/her away from his/her own life. "Do you think this adjective is better than that one? What if I strayed from grammar here? Is the sardonic thing working or is it just weird?"
No one has that. I just have to do it on my own. I mean, I could audition people until I find the right one, and then kidnap her and keep her in my closet, feed her gruel until her spirit is broken and she accepts her new role as my revision slave.
|It provides thoughtful commentary or else it gets the hose again.|
But there are laws against that sort of thing and I suspect I'd feel even guiltier ruining her life than I do about asking my friends to read my work and get back to me when they feel like it.
Yet I seriously considered sending the draft at this stage to my miracle reader and asking him if I'm right that the first half isn't working. I've found in recent months that I am a pretty crummy judge of what qualifies as The Good Stuff in my own work. People tell me that stuff I tossed off and don't care to revisit is the stuff they remember; they tell me that a character I felt eh about moved them more than the one I am devoted to. So maybe the first half of the story is working and it's just not particularly what I like about the story.
The other problem is that when the urn story is finished, I'll have four literary stories that I'm sure are ready for submission, and only vague ideas of where to send them. I have two markets in mind, but my confidence is super-duper-low and my brain's playing this dumb game where I'll "ruin" the markets if I send them the work. It's the same old hoarding instinct: if I use up the market by sending it a story and I get rejected, which feels inevitable, then the possibility of that market is gone. I know intellectually that this is stupid and the only way to enjoy anything is to participate in it - i.e. eat and appreciate that delicious chocolate you were "saving" before it gets chalky and bad - but it's a very old emotional habit and hard to break.
I don't mean to gloat, but I am so happy not to be traveling during this Thanksgiving, or putting on uncomfortable shoes, or awkwardly answering questions about myself, that I could break into song. I love my adopted family very, very much, but I've never felt connected to Thanksgiving and would have been just as content to stay at home in my PJs and eat leftovers like we did when I was younger. And this year I get to. Although I did buy a frozen turkey-and-stuffing entree from Trader Joe's, and have to go out today to get gravy. That'll be fun and stress-free, I'm sure.