Amongst working (aspiring?) fiction writers, publication often becomes a way of being validated. I remember 4 years ago, when my first story got picked up in an anthology of short stories, it made me feel as if the two years of work before that had been worth it.
More stories have followed since, and this year, when another one of my stories came out, I was happy but not ecstatic.
My first ever crime story (written under D. Biswas), November Rain, has found a home in Crime Scene Asia Vol1 by Monsoon Books, Singapore. Beyond announcing its availability on Amazon to my Facebook friends, I’ve made very little noise about it.
Not because I don’t appreciate being published, I do.
I love that I was successfully able to write a story based in Singapore with a Singaporean protagonist, while not being Singaporean myself. As a writer I enjoy being inside the skin of someone else, in this case a former detective, now wheelchair bound, who loves peeping into the intimate lives of his neighbors and ends up committing murder.
But somewhere along the line, publication has become a subsidiary achievement, a corollary to my prime target, which is to enjoy writing, spend as much time doing it as possible, and learn how to do it better each day.
I know I need to submit more of my short stories gathering dust, but I’m improving in my craft : my mentor, an MFA professor, said it isn’t a chore to read my first draft– she enjoys it– the best compliment on my work this year. So while it is good to be published, it is even better to know my writing has evolved over the years.
I’ve been reading ‘Suitable Accommodations’ a collection of letters by J.A. Powers (edited by his daughter Katherine Powers) which reads like a novel of a writer’s family history. It has made me admire his passion for his writing, but a recent article about the book made me sit up. It says of Powers:
He was a restless fingerer of prose. He turned sentences around, looked
at them, turned them around again, ate lunch, lay down, threw them out,
started over. His friends warned that his “perfectionism” (his own word)
would make him wacky. Lowell worried that he had whittled away his
talent in the pursuit of “some ironic integrity.”
I’m hoping my perfectionism isn’t making me wacky. But then I haven’t written for quarter of the years Powers wrote, nor is my prose worthy of more than his pinky toe.
So hopefully, I should be able to keep perfecting my craft and enjoying (barring the days of writing agony) my own stories for some years to come. In the meanwhile, I shall submit more stories to journals, and make more of an effort to talk about my published stories– which has become almost essential in today’s day and age when authors, whether traditionally published or self-published, have to market themselves.
What are your thoughts on being published? What do you do to promote your own work?