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On Writing and Deadlines

Several months ago, during the break between Fall and Spring semesters, I set out to revise a short story I had written a couple years earlier with the intention of improving it sufficiently that I then submit the revised story to a short story market. The idea was inspired by my Dear Wife, who saw how I was struggling and how important a creative outlet was for me. And she also understood that even if writing and getting published can be little more than a hobby for me (and that’s a big if, since it is still fully my goal not only to write and get published, but to make a meaningful amount of income therefrom; but I digress).

I quickly discovered, in that short time, that the story I had chosen to work on needed far more work than I had anticipated. In fact, I needed to wholly rewrite the story, saving only a handful of passages from the original draft, along with the basic idea and story. And that new draft needed still more work, and so on. But I still fully intended to submit this story to an editor for consideration. It would be the first time I had done so in many, many years – and the first time since I had more fully matured as a writer.

So, I set myself a deadline by which I would have both finished a worthy draft of the story and packaged it up and submitted it to the first story market on my list (the one with which I was most familiar and most sure the story fit with their publication). It was a deadline which I felt was far enough out into the future as to give me more than sufficient time to complete the story, but short enough to be considered a short-term and mildly aggressive goal, considering all the other time demands I had on me. That deadline was June 15, 2010.

That day is today.

And though I have finished what I consider a truly worthy draft of my story, I have not submitted it. I have not printed the story out nor packaged it in an envelope along with an industry-standard SASE.

I’m a little sad the deadline passed. It certainly was no intention of mine to allow it to do so unmet. And yet, I have fulfilled the bulk of what my deadline required: rewriting, editing, and revising a suitable draft of this story sufficient that I could say it was a very good story and worthy of publication. That was the hard part. And what stopped me, in the end, was the relatively easy part of actually sending that draft in.

What stopped me from meeting my deadline, ultimately, was a simple logistical problem. I was able to do many revisions and edits in spare moments of free time: during lunch breaks at work or in the fifteen or twenty minutes of free time before class on days when I arrived early. But the final step required that I print the entire 53-page (double-spaced) 12,100-word story, along with my coverletter, and put it in an envelope. This was not something so easily accomplished in “spare moments of free time” because I also needed access to a printer, and reams of paper, and an envelope or two.

That said, the goal itself is not dead simply because I let my own, self-imposed deadline pass me by. As soon as I’m able to spend a little time (with access to the necessary resources), I will definitely be printing this story out and submitting it. I’m proud of this story. It’s a good story, and I look forward to being able to tell you that it has been accepted by a publisher (whether the first publisher on my list, or one a few lines down, it doesn’t matter terribly much).

So, expect to hear more from me, soon!

And here we have the obligatory “First Post” of a new blog.  I’ve already been blogging at The Undiscovered Author, where I’ve been chronicling my misadventures balancing writing, going to school to get an MBA, and becoming a father all while holding down a full-time day job out in Corporate America.

That blog is all about trying to get published.

This blog presupposes my eventual success in achieving that goal.  No, I’m not published yet, not as of this writing.  But the existence of this new blog is a signal that I firmly intend to see the day when my words are in print (and somebody paid me for the right).  When that day comes, I don’t want to tell people: “Hey, check out my site at ‘iwishiwasawriter.com’!”  No.  I want to point people toward something with my name on it.  Ergo, I started this “new” blog, of which I am the eponymous orchestrator. 

It’s going to be a rough start, at first.  I don’t want to abandon my readership over at The Undiscovered Author.  On that blog I’ve made a certain committment to producing content on a regular basis.  Until I figure out how to leverage a separate blog with my name on it, that will continue to be my primary blog.  (I’ve left plenty of nifty links to that blog here, so visitors here will be quickly apprised of what’s going on there.)  That said, over time there will be an evolution of how the two interact.  I can’t really cross-post between the two (WordPress won’t let me), and I don’t have enough time and energy in me to do two separate blog posts per day on a regular basis.  I might be able to copy/paste my posts to here, but I’m not sure that would be especially fruitful or useful, so I don’t plan to do that.

So, in the meantime, bear with me as I figure out how best to use these two separate blogs.  In the future, I would expect other changes to be possible.  For instance, I would not consider it entirely out of the realm of possibility that I retire both this and my other blog in favor of a domain name that’s justmyname.com without having to go through a WordPress intermediary.  Or, I might just migrate the two blogs to that hypothetical third and future site.

Until then, enjoy your stay!