Finding the Perfect Gift

Plus September 2019 Round-Up

WARNING: This post contains spoilers for a 241-year-old book. 

There was a time when I hated Anna Karenina. Yes, the same novel that is considered one of the greatest—if not the greatest—of all time. 

Back in 2009, I listened to an audio version of the Constance Garnett translation, and for the most part, I enjoyed it. Up until the end of part 7, there was definitely more to like than dislike. And even though it seemed as if Anna was a supporting character in her own story, Tolstoy still managed to make her sparkle despite all her flaws.

After she dies, however, the story continues for quite a while after (if I remember correctly, there were almost two full discs left before the end). Even though she was not the only main character in the novel, I felt so invested in her story that there was no point in going on.

Not to say that the other MC, Konstantin Dmitrievich Levin, was not interesting. He was. But his story drags on long after Tolstoy makes his point.

Eventually, I gave Anna another chance in 2015, when I read a new translation of the novel. While I appreciated it more the second time, I still was not crazy about that last part. After reading over 700 pages about Anna’s and Levin’s spiritual and moral paths, I didn’t get that big payoff. 

A great ending should be like a reward to a reader, a thank you gift for sticking with a story or poem.

My problem lately has been trying to find the right gift for you, dear reader.  

As I mentioned in last month’s blog post, the new story I’m currently working on is longer than what I’ve done in the past (it’s currently around 7,600 words), so the reward for this one has to be greater. 

In general, a good ending should not only resolve the conflict built up over the course of the story, but it should surprise readers, too. And by “surprise,” I don’t mean telling them it was all a dream or saying the butler did it. You have to surprise in a way that fits with the logic of the overall story. If the main character turned out to be the killer all the time, you have to (as Nabokov once said) leave little “plums” for readers to find. (For the record, there’s no killer in my story.)

I’ll be honest: Trying to come up with a resolution that also surprises have never come easy to me. I have at least a couple of stories stuck in the purgatory known as Google Docs because the beginnings and middles are good but the endings don’t deliver that thank you gift. For this new story, I’ve been struggling to find the right ending, but I think I’m finally getting close. At this point, it may be a matter of making a few tweaks, but we’ll see. 

Regardless, I’m determined to get this story right. After all, when a whole story is great, the reader is not the only one who gets rewarded, but the writer does, too—with a publication. 

Submissions

I only managed to send out two submissions in September. I received one form rejection last month, but I’m still waiting for several markets to respond to works I submitted during the summer. Two of the journals just closed their submission windows, so I’m sure I’ll be hearing from them soon.

How was your September? Please let me know in the comments.

August 2019 Round-Up

It’s been a while since I’ve written an actual blog post. In fact, other than announcing published works and updating some of the pages, I’ve neglected this blog over the last couple of years. Since it will probably be some time before my next publication, I decided to try something new with this blog: a monthly summary of my writing activities. 

 

Writing

I started my latest short story in late July, and I’m currently working on the second draft. At the moment, it’s a little over 8,900 words, but I’m hoping with a few more rounds of edits, I can get it between 7,500 and 8,000. Considering that over the last few years, I’ve written mostly poems and flash fiction under 1,000 words, this new story is rather long for me. I don’t want to give too much away, especially since I’m still working on it, but this project is both a “return to roots” and a personal challenge, as I tackle a subject I’ve never written about before.

Because of the length and the subject, it will probably be a while before I’m ready to send this story out to the world, but that’s okay. One thing I’ve learned as a writer is that it’s about the quality and not the quantity. It doesn’t matter how often you get published. What matters is that you write pieces that leave lasting impressions on readers, and that is what I hope to accomplish with this project.

 

Submissions

I sent out three submissions in August and received two rejections. One was a standard form, but the other was a personal rejection, which, despite not being a win, was very encouraging. The editor wrote that my story was “well written” and he “really did enjoy it.”

One of the other submissions was to a market I’ve been trying to break into for the last year and a half. To date, they’ve rejected me four times. Also, I had to withdraw from them once. Maybe the sixth time’s the charm?

So far for the year, I’m at 24 submissions for the year. Not a lot, but not bad considering I haven’t had much to submit this year.

 

How about you? Please feel free to let me know what you’ve been up to lately in the comments.

Oops! How did I forget to mention this?

This morning, I was doing some updates, and I realized that I forgot to mention something that was published back in April.

Earlier this year, the poet Ryu Ando invited me to contribute to the Operating System’s 8th Annual NAPOMO 30/30/30 Series. I chose to write about the nineteenth-century poet Edwin Arlington Robinson and how his poetry influenced me as a writer.

It was a huge honor to be a part of this, so why I forgot to mention it on this blog is a mystery.

Anyway, if you haven’t read it yet, you can check it out here.

 

New Fiction: It’s Me, Your Imaginary Friend

My story “It’s Me, Your Imaginary Friend” is now in the new issue of Perspectives Magazine.

Perspectives is a literary magazine that publishes stories and poems told from the point-of-view of animals and inanimate objects. My story (as you can probably guess from the title) is about an imaginary friend.

Check out the story here, and consider submitting to this great publication.

“Golden” and “The Price Tower” available again

Sometimes, publications close up shop, and works that they published are no longer available. This happened with several of my poems, including two of my favorites, “Golden” and “The Price Tower.” They were published two years ago in WOLVES, a great e-journal that went defunct sometime ago. Sadly, none of the issues they published are available online anymore.

Fortunately, RL Black, former editor-in-chief of Unbroken Journal and Unlost Journal, recently started a new venture, Defuncted, and has reprinted the two poems.

Golden

The Price Tower

 

New Fiction: The Anderson Bridge

You really never know when inspiration is going to strike.

Last summer, I was standing in the line at Starbuck’s. I was wearing a pair of shorts and my William Faulker Light in August t-shirt from the Out of Print clothing company.

A man in front of me glanced at my shirt and smirked. “William Faulkner, eh?” After giving his opinion about Faulkner’s works, he shared an anecdote that his college professor had once told him about Faulkner visiting Harvard Square in the 1960s. According to the professor, people looked on in surprise as the author was walking to a bait-and-tackle store that no longer exists.

To be honest, the anecdote wasn’t that interesting. However, it gave me the idea for a stream-of-consciousness piece, “The Anderson Bridge,” which was just published issue 9 of formercactus, along with other great works.

You can check out the piece here. And please consider submitting to them—it’s a really great journal.