After receiving two helpful comments to my post yesterday---helpful in different ways---a few things hit me in the head with a loud thunk.
One, I have no idea what a "meme" is, but I imagine if I type in "meme" and search, I will find out. (That was just a minor knock on the noggin...) But, it led to a larger one, that if we force ourselves to engage in little writing "exercises" on a regular basis and sometimes stray from our comfort zone, it will stretch our skills.
A writer named RK thought it was perplexing that someone who wants to be a writer does not write...It's not that I don't write; I'm just extremely clever and creative when it comes to ways to avoid writing. (That reminds me of a story a high school teacher told me. She was relaying that students are paying for a service/program that "corrupts" their disc. This allows them to seemingly turn in a paper on time via the disc, but when the teacher tries to read it and cannot, it buys the students a couple of days to actually write/finish the paper. If they would use all that energy and ingenuity for good instead of evil, these students could get their work in on time.)
If I used all the time to write instead of making excuses and psychic predictions ("No one will like this," "I'll never get an editor to look at this.") I might actually get something published.
A large blow to my head happened when I brought back to the surface (because I've thought about it before, but quickly shove it back down) the idea that it's much safer to wonder than it is to know. It's much more comfortable to speculate what response an editor would have to your work, than to really know via a rejection letter.
For example, I have a picture book that I liken to (with great delusions of grandeur) Cynthia Rylant's picture books. These are some of my favorite ones:
I loftily compare this story to Rylant's because it's not like the picture books I grew up with (five or so decades ago). I've carefully worked on the craft of the story---the variety of sentence lengths, the similes, and so on. I use the above picture books in my third grade classroom as well as in workshops I do with college students and fellow teachers---the books are that well written. (In my next post I will tell you why I hate Cynthia Rylant as a person...)
Anyway, I became emotionally connected to this story I wrote, several different response groups have read it, and has been "finished" (I know, a piece is never "finished") for probably at least 2 years. I think it's fairly polished. And for 2 years I've wondered why it isn't published. And that's because I have not sent it off.
As long as I keep it that way, I don't have to face rejection, I can ignore the glaring light of reality, I can speculate what it would be like if...
Various goals I've set have not worked: By the beginning of the new year, I will have sent it off....By the end of the summer, I will have...It'll be in the mail to an editor by...
So, RK, this is what I'm going to do about it. I have a query letter written (it's also been written, and waiting, for 2 years). I have a publishing house that---logically---I should begin with, because my story is kind of like a bookend for another one of their books.
Give me a month. In fact, give me a little less than a month to get off my butt and do something about it. By September 1, send me note and hopefully, I will be able to say, "The eagle has flown" or "The chicken has left the coop" or some other coded phrase that says, "I've sent it off." (Which leads to the biggest blow to my head: RK is from India, a country where some of my favorite books and movies and documentaries come from. How cool is that? In another continent far, far away, from a culture that is very different than mine, one writer reaches out to another writer...)