Submissions

For the last little while, I’ve been trying to focus on writing stories, including several pieces of flash fiction. I’ve been submitting pieces to magazines and into competitions, with no luck so far (but it’s early days yet). It’s exciting, though, to sit down at a blank page and decide what I’m going to write (in other words, a short story or a piece of flash fiction), come up with a word – perhaps it’ll become the story’s title, or it’ll end up being included in the opening line, or something – and then watching a story come together.  It’s a bit like how Dr Frankenstein must have felt when he saw this happen:

It's ALIIIIVE!!Image: europeanliterature.wikispaces.com

It’s ALIIIIVE!!
Image: europeanliterature.wikispaces.com

I wrote a piece yesterday which had its genesis in an image of a lady confined to a wheelchair, sitting alone by a window. I also felt I had a first sentence, which went something like ‘It’s all my fault, anyway.’ I began to write, wondering what the lady was blaming herself for, thinking perhaps she would tell me about why she had become paralysed – but she didn’t want to tell me about that. The story ended up becoming about abuse, murder and family breakdown, and all in 500 words. When I started the story I had no idea where it would go, and in some ways it was like tuning into the thoughts of this character I’d created and listening to her as she explained how she was feeling. It’s a strange sensation. Sometimes I wonder who the writer is – me, or the people in my head. Often I feel more like a secretary. Perhaps I should learn shorthand in order to keep up with their dictation.

I think it’s a good decision to take a few days away from novel-writing at the moment. I hope it will help me keep my thinking fresh and give me renewed vigour for the story I’m creating in ‘Omphalos’. I’m at a point in the book where it’s a little bit difficult to maintain my focus, and I think getting away from it for a bit will make me more appreciative of it when I go back. I’m about as athletic as a wine-rack, but at the moment I feel like an athlete warming up and getting ready for a sprint, doing stretches while huffing and puffing in my ill-fitting singlet and shorts. My novel-writing muscles are tired and overworked, and while I don’t want my short-story muscles to atrophy, of course, it’s been a while since they were used as intensely as this. I’m trying to take it easy and gently urge them into action, but sometimes my enthusiasm overtakes me. I’ll have to remember to take my time and understand that a story doesn’t necessarily have to be finished the same day it’s started. Perhaps it’s not my fault at all, though – if the characters want to talk, who am I to tell them not to?

So, that’s my plan for today. I’m hoping to have an idea-spark for at least one, if not two, new stories, before filing them carefully away in the hope that a suitable submission opportunity will present itself. I seem to be more naturally suited to the flash-fiction form – a lot of my recent work is coming in at around the 500-word mark – so today I hope I’ll manage to stretch myself a bit more and write a slightly longer piece. Fingers crossed I won’t pull a mental muscle in my self-improvement attempts, though. I don’t think I can imagine anything more painful than a brain-cramp…

Image: weheartit.com

Image: weheartit.com

Happy Tuesday to you! I hope your writing endeavours (and general life-endeavours) are going swimmingly.

10 thoughts on “Submissions

    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thanks! Yes, I’m good at keeping the mind limber. I need to work on the body a bit more! 🙂 It’s a beautiful day here though, perfect for a walk, so I’ll exercise my actual muscles as well as my mental ones today.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Reply
    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      I think ‘well’ might be overstating it… I’m sort of throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks! 🙂

      But thank you for the positive vibes. 😉

      Reply
  1. Joe Owens

    I find the submission process so overshelming. There are so many possibilities of where to send your writing. I made a plan to do more submissions this year and am following it to this point. There is no shortage of avenues. i hope you are finding the same to be true!

    Reply
    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      It’s true! There are so many places to send stuff. My problem is a lack of confidence (and, sometimes, a lack of appropriate material). There’s certainly no shortage of opportunity. Hence the difficulty in getting anywhere! 🙂

      Thanks for your comment. I hope you’re having success with your own submissions. Best of luck with your writing.

      Reply

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