My writer’s life has started out much livlier in 2023 than last year. As of writing this on April 1, I’ve published three new stories:
- “The Earth, Measured” — Cease, Cows
- “The Times I Traded Time With the Crows” — Atlas and Alice
- “Feeding the Oscars” — trampset
And I have new stories, ones I’m really happy with, coming in Story, Pidgeonholes, and (as of yesterday!) The Journal.
All things point to some linear progression—a greater volume of publications must mean I’m on the right track, right? Especially if they’re among my favorite work, the most me, without compromises for what people might find “readable”?
But there’s still an enormous weight of doubt.
Will I ever write a book anyone would like to read? Will an agent ever see the potential in said took? Will I ever take any step toward being a more “professional” writer?
My response to that doubt has been ambition. Trying harder, submitting stories and a story collection more widely, querying more agents, being more present and active on Twitter, engaging more with various online communities.
Last month, I burned myself out completely. It’s not just the amount of work I did—it’s hard to stay ambitious when the professional publishing world gives you mostly silence in return.
Last weekend, after being inspired by Melissa Llanes Brownlee, I took a break from all writing-related work. No new words, no submissions, no query research. It was truly lovely, and at the time, I told myself: This should be the new normal. Leave the weekend for life! But here we are, on April 1st, a Saturday, looking up submission windows and trying to figure out which pieces I can finish to meet this deadline or that.
I don’t know to care this much and turn it off that easily.