It’s been a pretty quiet week, writing-wise, with the usual struggles and victories of motivation and editing. Which is to say that some days I didn’t edit, but then other days I did, and so the work continues.

One thing I’ve decided on is a plan to get back into submitting my short stories for publication. I started submitting them almost exactly a year ago today, at the writing retreat I went to last March. I was really on top of it for a few months, but then let it taper off in a fit of depression and lack of energy. I’ve been thinking about starting to submit again, but something that’s held me back is the need to do some edits.

The short stories don’t need anything akin to what I’m doing on the novel. There are no massive rewrites or restructuring to be done. I just need to go through and tweak a few lines and word choices here and there. I recently went through the novella I wrote a while ago, and looking at it with fresh eyes I found a lot of places it needed cleaning up. I’d be willing to bet I’d find similar in all of my short stories if I took a look at them now, almost a year since the last time I reviewed them.

But while I expect it’s all minor things, it’s still time and energy; something any reader here knows I have in short supply. My creative energy is also completely focused on my book right now, and I don’t really want to lose that. So, I’ve been loathe to shift my mental gears and use the limited resources I have on reworking short stories. What’s a girl to do?

Luckily, I have another writer’s retreat coming up this month. An ideal opportunity, just when I need it. Over the course of three days with huge swathes of dedicated writing time, I’m sure to need to a break from staring at the novel. So now my plan is that during the retreat, when I need to look away from the novel for a bit, that’s when I pull out a short story, give it a once-over, and get it submitted to a new market. I’ve got three days at the retreat, and three short stories to submit. That’s one novel break a day – perfect, right? I’m glad to have a plan, as the problem of the short stories has been bugging me for a while now.

On an unrelated note, it’s been a strange week, writing-wise, in that I had four people, on four separate occasions, bring up my writing (unprompted by me). It was mostly unconnected social groups too, so it’s not like one person heard it mentioned and so another one asked about it. It was all independent conversations.

Obviously, I don’t make any secret about the fact that I write. The blogging and posting about the blog on Facebook makes it kind of obvious. But two of the comments/questions were from my coworkers, who don’t follow me on Facebook and with whom the majority of my interactions are about work-related things. Writing has come up from time to time, as we do all talk about our personal lives to some extent, but it’s certainly not a main topic of conversation.

This feels like a reflection of how much I’ve internalized my identity as a writer. I’ve made it so much a part of my sense of self and my life that it’s now noticeable externally. I spent decades trying to forget about writing and telling myself I’d never be a writer, the stories in my head just dirty little secrets never to be spoken of. Now I’ve turned that around so much that even other people are like “Did you know Erin’s a writer?”

I’m really kind of pleased about this. It feels good to have reclaimed a part of myself so thoroughly that even other people notice it. I spent so many years listening to other people talk about their passions and thinking I didn’t have a “thing” of my own. Now I have it, have claimed it, and have pinned it proudly to myself for all to see. It’s a strange and wonderful thing for someone who spent a long time trying to be invisible. I look at how much I’ve changed in the last 20 years and it makes me wonder what 65-year-old me, 20 years from now, will think of what I’m doing today. Nothing to do but wait and see, of course, but I think 65-year-old me is going to be pretty amazing if I keep on this course.

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