Besides being entertaining and well written, these collections remind me again how much I love to read, and write, short stories.
And this puts me in a (good) kind of dilemma.
I recently finalized my collection of stories, Welcome Anybody, and sent it off to a publisher who is considering publishing it (fingers crossed!).
And so with those stories put to bed, I thought I would turned my attention back to the novels. I have four novels in one draft or another that need to be tended to:
Starter Marriage. This is my first completed novel, which I began in 1996. A very nice agent read it and said, while the writing is good, the story “lacked a strong narrative drive.” She was correct and I retired this novel in 2004, chalking it up to a great learning experience.
Dunderhead. I began writing this novel in 2001 or 2002, though I came up with the idea for it in college. I have written four full drafts of it, and put it away for a year in between each draft.
I started reading the latest draft last week and was disappointed. It reads more juvenile than I remember. There is something there and I know it will be good, but I’m not feeling it right now.
Summer in Samoa. Again, I came up with this idea long before I started writing any of it. I began putting words to paper in early 2003, during our brief residency in Manhattan. I remember sitting at my tiny desk, looking through the bars on the window of our ground floor
closet apartment at the snow on the ground and desperately missing San Francisco.
I have written about three solid drafts of this book. While the “coming of age” theme is similar to that of Dunderhead, the subject matter couldn’t be more different. Summer in Samoa feels more serious and, during my flights of fancy, I think it would make a strong debut novel.
Two Women (working title). I came up with the idea for this in 2001 and it’s been rattling around ever since. I didn’t write a word of it down, though, until last November, when I wrote the first draft (50,000+ words) as part of National Novel Writing Month.
I haven’t gone back and read this draft. Most of it was written at 6:30 a.m., while I was half-asleep, more intent on getting the words out than how they actually sound.
So while I am leaning toward picking up Summer in Samoa, the lure of the short story continues. There is something satisfying about finishing a self-contained story.
I will probably do what I always do. Work on the novel, and when I get frustrated, pick up a story.