Acutely Ariane

Anxious girl attempts novel. Results TBD.

Month: August 2017

Chapter 3: The Motivation

Yesterday, I received a paycheck. Not a day job paycheck, but a check for writing. It’s not enough to cover the rent. It’s not enough to cover my car payment. I could splurge on a nice dinner with this paycheck. But somebody paid me for something I wrote, and that’s worth more than the number on the check.

It’s almost too pretty to cash. I want to hug the check but that might be weird. I want to laminate it and wear it on my chest. Again, weird. But the check means something to me, something visceral and so important.

See, I wrote this short story. Like every short story I’ve written, I cranked it out like my fingers were on fire, and then immediately hated it when I was done. But I wrote it, so I had to do something with it. I edited it, and submitted it, and got rejected. Over and over, more than a few times. I put a very personal piece of me out into the universe and the universe kept saying “no thank you.”

The first rejection always stings. It washes away the the delusion that the story is so amazing that someone will buy it on the first try, a delusion my brain tries to convince me of every time I submit a story for the first time.  Stupid brain. The subsequent rejections sting less, but feel heavier. Each one in the pile another weight on the scale towards likely failure, away from improbable success. That’s the kicker, though. There is no scale. There are no rules to this. Failure and success are always equally possible, no matter how many rejections you rack up.

Still, after a handful of rejections, I told myself this story wouldn’t sell. It was weird and complicated. It was too personal. Too female. Too ugly. Too other. I was ready to give up on it, let it collect figurative dust on my hard drive while I moved on to something better.

I sent the story out one more time, more as a final hurrah than anything else. I didn’t expect more than the “thanks, but no thanks” messages that fill my inbox. I let myself forget about it in the months after I submitted.

So I’m pretty sure I screamed when I opened up my email to see “Dear Ariane, we are delighted to let you know…”

My dog was very concerned, but in that moment I was so fucking happy.

Because this will be my second published story, and it’s more tangible than the first. One publication could be a fluke, a flash in the pan. Ariane, the one story wonder.

But two published stories means something. Two means everything.

And I have the check to prove it.

 

(If you’re curious about the story I’m writing about, it’ll be available in the upcoming issue of Room Magazine, out by the end of September.  http://roommagazine.com/issues/migration )

Chapter 2: The Objective

I always leave a little bit of soda in the bottom of the can. The last piece of cheese in the fridge will sit unless someone else grabs it. My inbox is filled with reminders for month-long exercise programs I’ve signed up for, followed religiously for four days, and then never looked at again. I started an online introduction to Japanese course that’s been stuck on “Telling Time and Counting!” for several months now. I should go back and finish. But I haven’t.

I have a problem finishing things. I’m not sure when it started. Maybe it’s always been there, another facet of my daily anxieties. My brain doesn’t like to stay focused on one thing for too long, because then the insecurities, the doubts, the worst-case-scenarios come creeping in. Better to move on before they take root. The grass is always greener with the next idea.

On a related note, I have eleven partially written novels on my computer.

Eleven.

Nobody ever made it big with partially written novels.

The pattern is always the same. New idea! Write furiously because this is obviously the next great American novel and nothing’s going to stop me now. Have another story idea, this one shiny and new and ripe for explosive writing. Abandon previous idea because that one was stupid anyway. Rinse. Repeat.

Only, I don’t think any of the ideas are stupid. They just need work. Work I wasn’t willing to put in before. But I’m determined to make it happen this time, shiny new ideas be damned (just kidding please don’t stop popping into my head I’ll just work on you later).

So this blog is to keep me writing. Keep me accountable. Keep me on track because there’s no going back now.

Chapter 1: The Delusion

So you want to be an author.

What you need is an idea. An idea can be anything. Only it can’t be anything someone’s already done. Or maybe it can, only you’ll do it better. Or maybe you’ll do the next Star Wars meets Harry Potter meets Batman and you can already picture the record-breaking movie they’ll make out of it.

And then you’ll throw that idea out and start fresh because that sounds terrible.

Then you’ll need characters. They’ll crawl around your head like maggots, begging to be seen, but still formless, still waiting for you to bring them to life. When you do bring them to life, they’ll keep changing on you. Can’t decided if they want to be butterflies or moths or ninja pirate samurai. You try to force them into boxes but they won’t go, so you carry on in the hopes that they’ll settle down eventually.

When you start to write, it’ll feel like fire from your fingertips. The words will spill out and you’re the next Stephen King and this is your destiny.

Ten thousand words later, you realize everything you’ve written is shit and maybe you should start over, but ten thousand words seems like too much to waste – 10% of the way there! – so you soldier on even though you’re really starting to hate Character B, and subplot #3 doesn’t make sense anymore.

You’ll get halfway through your novel and think: wow, there’s nothing else I can possibly write about this how did I think I could get a full book out of this idea. Simultaneously, you’ll think: wow, there’s so much more that I neglected to think about when I was outlining this thing that the amount I have left to write seems insurmountable. The juxtaposition of the two will drive you a little batty. But that’s OK. Authors are supposed to be quirky, right? Write.

So that’s where I am. Deep in the delusion that I want to be an author.

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