Saturday, 3 November 2012

She did it (Putting an anthology together: Part 7)

On Wednesday (the day of the deadline, and the day after my last post) I tackled that final to-do list and submitted my short story collection to Salt. It took a couple of hours to do the last few edits and organise the acknowledgements, contents page etc (that was exciting, though) and then it was as simple as emailing it over. A couple of clicks. Off it went.

In the seconds afterwards I felt a small sense of relief - I think the big 'YES!' moments had happened the evening before when I finished the last story taking me over the wordcount. That's when I knew I'd done it, save for actually entering the prize. That was a good feeling. It made me do a lot of exhaling and talking out loud to myself.

In the past 4 or 5 weeks I've been a mix of confident that I would do it, and concern that, in a practical sense, I just didn't have enough time. I considered how long it usually takes me to write a story (months, but I'm usually working on several things at once), and that I had seriously less time through October than any other month this year so far. I had to be strict with how I used the time I had, saying 'no' to social invitations but still giving myself enough time off from all kinds of work to not burn out or get too stressed.

I had 2 clear days off each week. I gave one to writing, and one to spending time with my loved one. As much as I could, I created a stable environment for myself. And in those hours before work, or nights when I wasn't tired, or in between shifts, if I felt like writing I did, and if I didn't, I didn't. I said, 'If I don't get it finished in time, it's okay,' then always added 'But I will'.

I had to have a bit of faith. This was hard when, on a writing day, I had a headache, no energy, and 6000 words to go. I tried, but made little progress that day. But 2 days later, a whole afternoon I wasn't supposed to have free fell into my lap, and the writing got done that day.

I used the extra hour the clocks gave us last weekend. I didn't plan it that way, I just got up early before work on Sunday and shut the internet off for an hour. A whole new story came to life in that hour, and on Tuesday another fortuitous thing happened out of nowhere - a full day off from work - and on that day the story grew and grew to 3000 words, the longest story I've ever written. I relished writing it, and the feeling of having room to let it become something different. I can't deny that it's better to have some distance from a new piece of work before editing and submitting, but I felt the energy in this one as I wrote it, and it felt 'true' in the sense I sometimes bang on about - when you write something that feels part of you.

I think the combination of being free with myself and being honest with myself is what got me through this month. Free to not write, and honest in looking at how I spent my time. The days off from it all were valuable, and essential. As was shutting the internet off for an hour or two or three when I needed it.

So, away my collection has gone, to be read along with hundreds of other manuscripts, all created in their own individual way by a hopeful writer, sent off to see if they're the one that will rise to the top of this particular pile.

I'm happy with my collection. It feels like it is me, it contains the stories I wanted to tell, in the way I wanted to write them. As I get to the end of a year with only one publication acceptance, I feel proud of myself for what I've achieved with this, that I pushed myself and took care of myself in fairly equal measure.

And now... what now? Well, anything.

Oh and this guy - a new friend I made (literally) (ish) on Wednesday night.

Thanks to everyone who's read and commented and cheered me on this past month - it's been a great help to have your support.
How are you? Are you working on something in particular? Do you have a deadline you're moving towards right now? Shall I stop quizzing you? Okay.


BettyMcFab said...

Just brilliant - move over Felix Baumgartner - Teresa has broken the putting-together-a-collection-speed barrier!

Teresa Stenson said...

Thanks, Betty! I DID feel like I was looking at the Earth from space when I started this journey...

Rebecca Alexander said...

That's an amazing achievement - Well done! With that kind of commitment you can do anything!

Teresa Stenson said...

Thanks, Reb! Yes, it has made me realise I can finish a project - I've often got too many going to feel I've made progress like I have this month.

Miss McFish said...

Well done you! I WILL enter next year myself!

I can't complain, I've had a great year writing-wise and I feel I've moved forward a lot. Next year will be the BIG one!

Fingers crossed for you, Teresa!

Love your 'we've been expecting you Mr Bond' moment too!

How to add menace to any sentence: end it with 'Mr Bond'. E.g. 'A moist towelette, Mr Bond?'

Mandy x

Teresa Stenson said...

Ha, thanks, Mandy.

Good to hear you've had a good writing year, and that you're full of excitement for 2013. That's fab. Good luck with that and putting your collection together, it's a very empowering experience.

Yes the 'Bond' moment... I'm afraid I wasn't as cool or menacing as that, and pretty much just guffawed out loud. When you've been selling tickets all day, it's the little things like that that cheer you up. A colleague served someone called 'Roger Moore' a few days ago; I would have imploded most likely.