I’ve never been much for revision. Before a random Google search found me an awesome MFA program, I never thought anything would come of my writing, except perhaps some personal peace of mind. I wrote when I had a story in me, a story that was driving me crazy as it wrote itself in my head. Short of that, there wasn’t much routine to my writing. Then I would save it, or delete it; either way, I wouldn’t really think of the story much again, once it was out of me.
Last week, my mentor e-mailed to let me know he had received my packet of fiction: my first 25 pages in the journey towards a manuscript. Honestly, the e-mail scared the hell out of me. It reminded me that I hadn’t sent some 10-page short story out into oblivion as I am so wont to do. No, quite the contrary: in a week’s time, those 25 pages will come back to me: appraised my an incredible author, marked and possibly unrecognizable. But all of this scares me less than the simple fact that those pages, and this story, are nowhere near “out of me.” I can’t just shove them in a drawer and start a new story, like I usually do. This is the big one, the one I’ve been afraid to tell for 4 years now. And I’m suddenly up against the reality of that.
Of course, it’s also thrilling to feel this big story swirling inside me and figuring itself out, coming from different corners of my consciousness and connecting in ways I didn’t know it could. I’m happy that there’s so much more to say. I just hope it’s worth saying.
So, I put my first MFA writing packet in the mail today for my mentor; I guess I’m really doing this. I worked on it all Friday night and until 5 a.m. Saturday morning, thanks to some awesome coffee my sister brought back from Nicaragua. (Note to self: get coffee maker.)
But now, having expended my energy in pushing out the final pages and craft essay, I’m feeling blocked about where to go next. So far, I have two “sections” to my novel–as of now, I’m calling them A and B to not confuse myself or mentor. I would like to work in a third (C), so I guess I will start a new section this time around instead of pushing forward on A & B before I get any feedback. I already know part C and the later events in B are going to completely morph A into something different, but I won’t get into that messy business until April or May.
Despite all of these ideas, and only 25 pages in, I’m already scared that I won’t have enough to say for an entire novel, though I can feel it all swimming around in my head. So I’m going to let it all marinate and do my craft essay first this month. Maybe it will give me some good ideas for this new section I’m starting.
Another thing to work on this month is getting some of my stuff published, once it’s up to par. I didn’t want to say anything before I received news, but I’ve submitted one story of mine that’s “done” for consideration at a literary magazine called The Splinter Generation (thanks, Reuben, for your recommendation!). It’s the first time I’ve ever submitted anything, and I’m excited for any outcome. Whether it’s a rejection letter or–gasp–publication, it means I’m a writer. It means I’m in the game.
Best of luck to other newbies out there submitting their first packets!