Apparently Ray Bradbury wrote a story a week and submitted that same story to a magazine each week. This is what is typically defined as crazy. And/or hard-working. Also, perhaps, “a good plan.”
Not, perhaps, the sending out of the self-same story that was written that week to magazines that same week. Most of us, and I would include Bradbury along in this designation, need a little more time to stew over what we’ve written and fine tune it before it can be presented for public consumption without someone accidentally choking on that chicken bone we were in too much of a hurry to pick out of the shepherd’s pie.
Enough with the most of us. As usual, I’m talking about me. And, as you might have read in these pages before, I’ve a pretty high opinion of the quality of my first drafts. For the most part, they are close to the final version that reaches publication. In this case, I’m not saying this is by definition a good thing, just that it is what it is, so far.
[Sidenote: My experience with first drafts probably has something to do with the eight of the last ten years of my writing life being focused on poetry and the fact that, in a poem, I tend to be very careful about each line of the poem before I set the pen to paper. When I approach stories, I work the same way, treating each line, each paragraph, each bit of dialogue as a stone soon to be fixed in the wall I’m building. I’ve learned from revision that I can take out individual stones to leave decorative views into the neighboring field, but I’ve yet to tear the whole wall down to build a house. Though maybe I should. That would certainly save me a bunch on rent.]
But Bradbury was writing for a different time when, yes, there were less restrictions on what was accepted for pulp magazines and their successors because there was such a dire need for good writing and, whether or not you like everything he’s written, Bradbury is definitely a good writer. He can construct plot. He paints a convincing image. His emotions crawl under your bed and stay awhile.
So this: Write 1 Sub 1.
It’s a joint venture, a capital agreement, much like NaNoWriMo, where each participant agrees to write a story a week and submit a story a week (though, pointedly, it doesn’t have to be the same story).
I just joined on with this merry band of crazed wordheads because I need the push. At this point in my life, I have an overabundance of time, but lately I haven’t been using it to write. Blame that on the search for agents or blame it on the fact that my job/fellowship/meaning-of-life search has stalled for lack of a destination, the sad truth is that I’ve been lollygagging (gagging is the operative word) and twiddling my metaphorical thumbs (since my real thumbs have been involved in making drinks).
What I want out of this is the first part of the equation: a story a week.
I’ve got the stories. I’ve got the leads in my head. I’ve got the words that – for a while now – have been gumbo-izing and, like the best foods, have (I hope, I hope, I hope) grown stronger and more satisfying with time. Ideas are not lacking. That’s never where a writing roadblock starts for me. It’s the standing myself down and realizing, once my fingers start dressing the keys, that writing is what I truly enjoy.
Wish me luck. And feel free to jump on the bandwagon, especially if you know how to hold a tune.