In case you didn't know it already, starting a writing career is a lot of ‘hurry up and wait.’ Get your book to the editor you hired and then wait (this is the hardest wait, since you can’t send out query letters - and then wait - until your book is done). Send in a submission to a competition and then wait. Pitch an idea to a magazine or news outlet and then wait. Ask writers to participate in your writing series and then wait. I could spend all my time hustling to meet deadlines and feeling like the busiest person in the world and then have absolutely nothing to do but wait.
And all of this work is bursting with optimism and potential that, in reality, could pretty much go nowhere. There's no way to know. Maybe that's why I cried with empathy through most of La La Land, the hardship of aspiring artists hitting a little too close to home to my new found creative experiences (even if my goals aren’t quite as lofty as theirs).
As a part of my journey I've been trying to network, learn from all kinds of writers (hello #writersquick5), and really listen to their advice. Many people have said that any downtime away from my novel should still be spent writing, and that short stories are a great way to continue to hone the craft. If I can sum up a whole story in 700-1,500 words, I will get better at writing pitches and query letters. If I write a story that grabs someone, I can gain some following. If I write a short story that grabs me more that I thought it would, I may have my next book.
So I have been working on writing short stories. This is fairly new to me, and fortunately, I was recently inspired by My True Love Gave To Me, a collection of YA short stories that are all holiday themed. Damn, there were so many amazing stories in that collection!
As for what I’ve been writing, some have turned out pretty well, some are clearly just for me. The good ones I've started to submit to short story competitions. Time will tell if this is a good use of my time, but my initial reaction to competitions is mixed. Some have entry fees - causing my bank account to go in the opposite of my desired direction. Almost all have non-compete clauses so I can't post the material on my website or blog while it's under consideration. (That was new to me - I never considered something on my own website as being published before. Does that even count?) And so what really bums me out is that for those of you who are kind enough to check in with me, I can't share some of my recent work with you, at least not yet. (But trust me, if I don't win some of these competitions, I will post, post, post away.)
The good part about them is that I’m learning more about what’s out there. It is forcing me to keep writing, and the best bit is that I have fallen in love with some new characters I’ve created that I would have never met before had I just moved onto my next book.
Which leads me to my next consideration - should I have two separate piles of short stories - some that I submit to competitions and some that I share out? The answer is probably yes. Because, as supportive as you all have been, aside from these blog entries, you haven't seen any of my actual storytelling yet.
So, my new years resolution is that within the next few weeks I will not only have something up on channillo.com (Amache's America, coming your way), but I will also have a new ‘short stories section’ on this website where you can really get to know my storytelling style. I'll probably put it in blog format so it's easy to share out. Or maybe just add it to this blog and tag them so everything is in one place. (Ah! what is the best way to do this? If any of you have any advice, please let me know.)
For now I’ll just keep on keepin’ on and embrace this new wave of short stories in my life just as I’ve tried to embrace everything else new these last few months. If you know of any great short story collections for me to read for inspiration, please send them my way!
As always, thanks and XOXO.