Thoughts on Growth

It’s so difficult to measure progress when its work is slow and deeply buried, down, down into the earliest stages of the writing progress. I know I’ve changed significantly this semester—and other friends in the 3rd semester of the MFA seem to say as much, too. But now that I’m shifting to an experiment with lyrical essays, the growth feels big but looks pretty darn small on the page. For example, I have five lyrical essays to send to my advisor, but they only add up to 13 pages! Before, I might have sent her two stories that were 13 pages each, or several essays that added up to 30 pages. Yet somehow, five completely separate concepts feels like a lot. The deadline approaches and I need to send more…but what to do?

Part of this is not knowing what to do next with the lyrical essays. I can find the inspiration, I can hear the voice, and I can write it down in that initial burst of creativity. I can go back through and re-work the lines that need trimming, cut the ones that don’t resonate with me, and draw out the pacing where it seems most contextually important. But after that, I run out of tools. The work of the writer is, perhaps, embracing that he/she will be the perpetual beginner. And furthermore, taking great joy in that.

* * *

Good news, folks! In a recent flurry of submissions, I queried a published I met at the literary festival about being a reader for some of his many, thousands of submissions. We had a few follow up emails and a phone conversation and he asked to see my fiction and nonfiction clips. Today, he wrote back in praise of my fiction and asked me to be the editor of a short fiction anthology (A BOOK!) that his company will publish. It will be a themed anthology and I get to have input on the theme. And yes, eventually, I’ll even get paid a little for it and credit as editor when the book comes out. It will be crazy amounts of work, I’m sure, but yes, yes, YES!

  • Felicity

    Wow! That is so amazing, Katey! I guess this ‘getting out there’ and ‘networking’ stuff people always recommend really does work….

    I haven’t noticed as ginormous leaps and bounds this semester as previous ones…I feel like the essay may be part of that. But I do know that I feel like I have far more of a handle on when to call a story ‘done’, which was something I had hoped to figure out this semester, and in general I think I’m getting better at seeing the big picture.

    It can be sad when I pick up something I thought was almost ‘done’ last semester though, and decide it probably isn’t.

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