does not describe me fully
it is where to start

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Storyteller's Worth

Writing a novel is a marathon. It starts out as an energetic and optimistic activity. Predictably for me, though, at about the three-quarter mark, a shift occurs. After writing again and again about the same characters, I am tempted to throw the lot out the window. At this point in a work-in-progress novel, it is superbly easy for me to generate a long list of what is wrong my writing. Completing the novel becomes a more daunting task than what has already been accomplished. The ignominy of not finishing is experienced daily.

Luckily for me, in this latest novel project, when I have been ready to quit, I received metaphorical refreshing drinks and pep talks. It started with the news that another of my short stories had been accepted by a literary review, which goes a long way toward renewing my faith in my writing abilities. When an editor says, I like your story enough to publish it, I am reminded that, at least in moments, I can write well. Parenthetically, when this story is published later this year, I will provide the link in a blog post.

The other refreshing drink and pep talk came from a surprising source, my late father. No, I’m not talking about séance-like contact. Instead, recently, I had the privilege of compiling an anthology of his essays, poems, and sermons which allowed me to hear his “voice” again. It was another soft landing to calm my jitters. It reminded me that writing, even if vastly different in content, is the family business, and I am doing exactly what I was born to do.

Then, I received the first installment of surveys being carried out about my dad's legacy. All the living members of the church my gentle, wise, and humble father pastored for thirty-three years have been queried. The project leader said, “The stories are pouring in. Many hand in their questionnaires with tears in their eyes.” While reading the questionnaire results, I was struck by how my father’s written and spoken words sustain a living quality. Words matter, I concluded. The role of the storyteller is essential to the human psyche.

So I pick up my banner as storyteller and know it is not a frivolous undertaking. I embark on the final quarter of my novel, renewed in my commitment to make my words matter. Because, if I write the story well, they will matter.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

"Til Next Year" - Flash Fiction

Last year, I came across a request for submissions from Glossolalia, a literary review “… dedicated to the art of flash fiction ... only publish[ing] stories under 500 words.” I had a 229-word story “Til Next Year” which had always been too short to submit to anyone. So I reread it, tweaked it a bit and sent it off, truly not expecting much. To my surprise, Glossolalia published my story.

Belatedly, I focused on the name of the literary review. Glossolalia can refer to the religious practice of speaking in tongues familiar to me from my fundamentalist childhood. But, having surveyed the submission guidelines and read their other published stories, I found that the review had nothing to do with religious “speaking in tongues.” Nor did it seem to have anything to do with that other definition of glossolalia: “nonsensical or invented speech, especially resulting from a trance or schizophrenia.”

Oh well, the review does focus on flash fiction, and my short story definitely qualified as flash fiction. So, whatever the reason for the review’s name, I am honored that Glossolalia chose my story. Here is the link: Til Next Year And, no, my story has nothing to do with religious speaking in tongues either.