I began printing out my novel again, yesterday. After a three-week hiatus I was ready to dive back into it. Or at least I thought. As the pages printed anxiety infiltrated my excitement. My skin began to crawl. I had to get up and walk around. What if I didn’t like all the changes I made last time? Would I be able to track down the right versions of my rewrites? Would I get lost in a sea of revised chapter ones, twos, threes, fours, fives, and sixes? The pressure I placed myself under, my own expectations of what the next revisions would bring made me feel claustrophobic. And then…I got a sign…my cat Phi, in all of her glorious Maine Coon furry, fat, selfness, came up to my printer and began eating my pages as they
I chased my snack attacking cat away, but took her desire to ingest my book as a bad omen. I pulled the pages off the tray and plopped them on my desk. Then I opened up the MARCH/APRIL issue of Poets & Writers. I flipped to the back and found Pen Parentis Writing Fellowship for New Parents. It generously offers a $1,000 prize to a fiction writer who is the parent of a child under the age of ten. HELLO THAT’S ME!!!! Oh wait, I need to submit a new unpublished short story by April 18, 2012. Could I write a short story, polish it and get it in with my $25 entry fee in less than two weeks?
My novel looked back at me. “Don’t make me wait much longer. You can do this. You can finish the next draft and get me to an editor. Come on Holly!”
That was sweet. I liked my work beckoning me. But I know my process now. I tend to dive into another project as an escape. Or you can call it, writing my way into my story. And then I heard voices in my head. No I do not need meds. All my stories and first drafts start with dialogue. I literally hear conversations between characters and then I have to figure out setting. Maybe I can do this! Maybe I can write a good short story, that is contest winning material, and earn some money to continue on with my book! It sounded so exciting! Look at all those exclamation points!!!! Could I submit my first chapter? Pen Parentis says they accept a chapter from a longer work if it can stand alone. Not sure if mine does. Oh, decisions, decisions. I wrote two pages of a new short story yesterday. The qualifying 2012 Pen and Parentis guidelines state the short story can’t be longer than 1250 words. That’s nothing. Ugh!
Can I do both effectively? Can I write a great short story and work on my book simultaneously? I think I have no other choice. Here goes nothing!