Today I submitted my short story "Exceptional Women" to its first literary magazine. Much like much of my submissions, I don't expect much. But there's a weird glee with this one, if only because I haven't written a short story in years. Years.
I think the very last short story I wrote was for my creative writing class during my second semester of my senior year. During my agency-hunt heyday, I submitted that particular short story to anyone who would accept it. And, much like my first manuscript, it was denied across the board.
I believe in the fluidity of writing. Some days, you're going to want to write a poem about something. Some days, you will want to write an essay. Others, you'll just want to write an opinion piece. And again, some days you'll want to work on a novel.
(Speaking of: I'm finally kicking my butt in finishing my third manuscript. One page a day until I finish the bloody thing. No more procrastinating.)
"Exceptional Women" -- much like my first manuscript -- was originally just a story that I had circulating in my head. Most writers can empathize with this: you listen to a certain sequence of songs too many times, or you just let your mind wander too much during a car ride, and suddenly you have the beginnings of a story in your head. It's a story you don't even plan to write down, but you can't stop meandering through the maze, wondering how this will play out. This particular short story started after listening to a string of songs and imagining a woman who has her entire life in order -- until she gets the call from his fiance's mistress. The original story focused entirely in what is simply the flashbacks in the written-down piece. And I played around with it again and again -- and usually during times that I was supposed to be focusing on other stuff, like driving, or yoga -- until I woke up early one morning and realized I was going to explode if I didn't write out this particular sliver of the story.
I fully recognize that part of the reason why I wrote that story was because I've been reading a collection of superb short stories (Always the Love of Someone - Hugh Lawrence. I found an editor's copy at the Brattle Book Store a while back, but I think this is available somewhere online.). And that's perfectly okay. The last poem I wrote was during the intermission of a poetry reading with Buddy Wakefield. Stephen King even promotes the idea of letting other writers influence you to write in this particular medium. You read, you get inspired, you write, you read again, you continue the cycle, and, through that, you find your voice.
So I don't expect much to come from "Exceptional Women". Everyone and their brother is a writer these days. Everyone has a short story that they swear makes them sound genius. But I'm glad that I'm at least attempting to get my other work out there. And you never know when something actually clicks and you find yourself with a new audience.