Yesterday, before the bad news, I went into a used bookstore to drop off some posters for a local concert. I happened to be waiting in line at the counter just long enough for my eyes to drift over the rack containing film novelizations (which I generally look down upon, bleh). The very top and left book happened to be The Affair of the Necklace, written by Elizabeth Hand, a Clarion workshop leader. Was it a sign? Not a good one, as it turned out, but I did receive news just a short time later. However, it should not surprise me to see an author’s name, on a book, in a book store.
The day before that, I was in the bath, trying to relax and stop obssessing about acceptance/rejection, when the shampoo lather floating in the tub formed into the shapes of two fish. The smaller had a wide-open mouth poised to consume the larger. A sign? I don’t even know of what, but I was distressed and dashed it away.
As a child (and even then I was an aspiring writer), I used to think that writerly work was mythically channeled from some great source, that the ideas burned writers up from the inside until they were let out. The whole notion was that writing is always passionate and exciting, and that great writers were like half-mad artists. When I was a kid, I wanted to be that. Of course, now I’m actually writing, and although at least one story kinda burned its way out, the work I’m doing now has more to do with craft. The difference is that writing craft is taught and learned and shared (and requires time-consuming self-discipline); it’s not wild talent that madly creates in an isolated trance. Ideas come from everywhere, especially for speculative fiction, and random word association can springboard the writer into exciting new directions. All this has something to do with omens (random signs and symbols that are assigned meaning) that I’m not expressing very well here. Maybe you get the point.
Now that my summer has been freed up, I am hard at work on new writing, with the goal of two fresh subs before June in mind.
The current project, tentatively titled “In Like the Lion,” is a short story I started during the wait. It began with a phrase of simple word association, and at the time, I thought of it as very goofy, but at least diverting from the stress of waiting. Now, it seems to be taking on a life of its own, as stories tend to do, and the characters want to go places and see new people. And there it goes, with me in tow.
I’m also shopping around for good online writing workshops to join, if anyone has suggestions.