Friday, December 4

The Development of a Writer

Posted by Shelly Holder

I am suffering from a slight case of the writing doldrums. It's not fatal, I've been assured, but it has the potential to knock me out of commission if I don't combat it with a good dose of Vitamin C... c for confidence.

I wrote the other day glancingly of my submission that was my first submission. I'm still in shock over that discovery, and have been racking my mind for the cause of my illusionary feelings of success. I figured out this check-list of literary magazines on campus:

Winged Nation: X
The Review: X
The Gallery: n/a
Beacon: n/a
Lips: n/a

So I have a 2/5 success rate of sending out materials, but still. It was my first submission outside of campus (other than vanity publications; see website bio for more details). Why? Tell me, why?

My first story I ever wrote was a class assignment in 2nd grade about a magical cat. It currently languishes. Certainly I would have to update it, but I could use it for a children's story at least. Why haven't I?

The next story I wrote was in the 7th grade. A substantial lapse of years, but ones well spent I suppose, since the sophistication of my writing (rather obviously) increased. Why can't I use that one?

The next was a few weeks later, another assignment for my honors science class (again, see website bio), It too has been lost to the ravages of time. A third story that year for English, then two more quickly followed, all of which were published in the English department magazine to my combined horror (now) and pride (then.) Those too could be resurrected in some way. In fact, one of them I consider my most descriptively evocative of all my prose. Why haven't I used it?

After that, my memory becomes fuzzy, and I highly doubt that anything much was written. I went through a novel phase, and have the many versions of several opening chapters to each of these manuscripts, but nothing was completed.

I made a foolish promise to myself, declaring that I would be published before my Xth birthday. The 16th came and went, without even an attempt, and the 17th hastily researched and submitted before the midnight "deadline." Thus began the rise of the vanity publications, which occupied the next 6-8 months before the disastrous conclusion (once more, refer to the website bio).

Then came college, and a singular poem published freshman year, and a rejection sophomore year. A short story contest. Several poems over teh summer, another abandoned novel attempt.

It surprises me sometimes, how much I consider myself a writer, and yet how little I actually have to show for the years spent thinking this way. I don't want to spend another semester throwing out half-heartened attempts. If I am a writer, then I need to be a writer. Otherwise I will end up 60 years old, wondering where the time went and having nothing to show for it all except the scattered pages of a few chapters. If I end up 60 years and still unpublished, but with 20 trunk novels and reams of rejected poetry, that's another thing. I would still be a writer, even if I was unpublished. The age is not the issue, but the attempt.

I am a writer.

Right now:
What I am listening to: nothing.
What I want most: breakfast. or a shower.