Week 13: Reflections as Writer-in-Residence
I have a name.
It came to me last week while I was on the treadmill, mile six, somewhere between Lyle Lovett and R.E.M.
Sharing a name for your first collection of short stories is like being pregnant and waiting until the 2nd trimester before telling your friends. There is something real in the telling; like a promise on this thing that’s been gestating for so long. It’s also somewhat of a farce, because once it gets into the hands of an editor, agent, or publisher (here’s hoping), the name can be completely nixed despite your heart’s desires.
I have 6 short stories and 9 short-shorts for this collection. I’d like to have 25% more, minimum; double that for a maximum. And the name? The title, I believe, will be: Ways of Light.
I didn’t expect things to happen in this order, but I suppose that’s the point. Already, I can feel the powerful pulse this act of naming has given to the collection. It’s there, almost breathing, waiting to be finished.
The name has also given me something concrete to aim for: I’d like to finish a longer, more informed draft of the Afghanistan story I started over spring break before summer begins. I’d like to write 2 more short-shorts by then as well. Over the summer, I’d like to revise another piece for the collection that I have—one that I began last year at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and has been knocking around in my brain for a while. I’d also like to look at 2 short stories I began in grad school but never finished, to see if there’s any life left in them and if the catch my attention. If not, fine. If so, I’ll dive right in.
Did you know that there is an Andrew Bird song called, "The Naming of Things"? Names are powerful. In many ancient, tribal societies, "true names" are guarded carefully, because to know the true name of an object or person gives one power over the person or thing. Knowing the name if your book is important and a great step in making it real. Good for you.