On believing in what you do

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Yesterday I did something I've never done before--I wrote, revised, and submitted a story all in one day!  It was a short-short, right at 500 words, but I'm really proud of it, especially because the short-short has always been something I admired (when done well) but never thought I could do.  I've only written one other piece of flash fiction before, something for my thesis that didn't make it in.  I even tried sending that piece out once (to Flash Fiction Online, which sent me a really nice, personal rejection), but despite the helpful comments I received, I never revised or submitted it anywhere else.  I honestly wasn't that invested in the piece, had tried to write it more as an exercise than anything else, and I figured I had more important projects to focus on.


Last spring, however, I got another idea for a short-short.  It was an idea I was really invested in and wanted to make work, but I just couldn't figure out how.  It's a story told in reverse, and when I tried to write it I kept thinking that it would make a better short film, that I could just imagine watching the events happen in reverse while a voice-over read the story.  When I went to New York in May, I happened to catch the last weekend of Marina Abramovic's retrospective at MoMA.  (If you didn't hear about this, you have have to check it out.  Her work is out there, but it's absolutely stunning stuff.)  Abramovic is a performance artist, and looking at her work, at the artist herself ("The Artist is Present" is literal), I was stunned into silence and inspired beyond words.  My desire to turn this short-short into a short film came back full force, and it's a project that I would still love to make happen, but I know that it isn't realistic right now.  So for the past few months I'd abandoned the story, frustrated that I couldn't do what I wanted with it and not knowing how to make the story work on its own without a visual component.

Then something amazing happened.  After my Terrible, Horrible, No Good Travel Day, I spent the next two days revising another old story of mine.  It's one that I've tinkered with for years, even sent out a couple of times, but I never could get the ending right.  And then I suddenly knew how to fix it.  I knew what the final scene had to be.  I finished it Thursday and finally, for the first time in the five years (that's right--five years!) since I began writing it, it finally felt done.  I felt this amazing joy, this sense of completion, that I'd never felt with that story before.  So I gave myself the night off, made a nice chicken tikka marsala curry for dinner, and spent the evening relaxing on the couch.  

When I went to bed, though, my mind was racing with ideas, and I jotted some in my notebook before going to sleep.  The ideas were disconnected, all dealing with various stories and essays I'm working on right now, but when I woke up the next morning they were all focused, and I was only thinking about one thing--the short-short I started months before, the story in reverse, and I suddenly knew how to make it work.  I spent the morning writing, the afternoon revising, and after receiving feedback from T and Mo, I submitted the story.

So now it's waiting time, but I feel really confident about this piece.  It's not necessarily that I believe it will be snatched up by the first place I sent it, but I know that I will stick with it this time, that I'll keep sending it out no matter how many times it's rejected, because I believe in it that much.  

2 comments:

Tawnysha Greene July 31, 2010 at 8:23 PM  

Great news about your story! I hope someone picks it up soon!

Monita B. August 5, 2010 at 10:12 PM  

I'm really inspired by your determination! Stick with it!

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