Monday, I was sure I was going to quit writing or at least suspend that dream until retirement, but after much thought, I decided to stop being such a panocha. No offense to panochas everywhere. I also refocused on my writing motive--which has absolutely nothing to do with sales--and started reading great stories. (I would like to say that work is less busy, now that the union contracts have been ratified, and that I have more energy, but I have a number of member hearings coming up and grievances.) Now that the artistic crisis is over, I started submitting my work again. I haven't sent in a story in like fifteen years. Last night, I sent in two poems and am going to submit flash fiction after I get some beta readers to give them a once a over. I also got a short, but sweet cover letter done with a 50 word bio. I was heartened that my cover letter was pretty close to what editors want, but I hope the Switchback editor isn't laughing his or her ass off at me because the first bio I sent was ridiculously long, so I resent the cover letter with a shorter bio.
I also submitted a writing article, to Inner Circle Magazine, and I have to thank my writer-sister Carmen Baca for giving me some grammar lessons on my first draft--even though I only wanted content feedback. #EnglishTeachers4EverYo--and positive feedback on the content. Phew!
Last night, I also got a hold of my friend Brett who is designing the cover for Not Your Abuelita's Folktales. He is working on that for a March deadline. Like me, he is very busy with his activism, so I appreciate the maximum effort. I also sent him the manuscript, so he could give me feedback on the design. I'm not sold on the chapter dividers, but I couldn't find anything magic related that was free to use for commercial purposes. The table of contents also needs some work and alignment. I managed to do just fine with La Bruja del Barrio Loco, but I want this book to look nicer than the last one. That's not a bad goal to have in general.
Today, I am also going to an old bookstore and going to see if they take books printed through Lulu. Now, I've never used Lulu, but it farms out books to Amazon and Barnes & Nobles. The only thing is the book won't be available for Kindle Unlimited, and I won't be able to lower the price. Still, there is a hard cover option, which is titillating. I have a growing soft spot for hard cover books.
That's all the good news I have. There was probably more, but I need to save some writing energy to revise my novel, The Harvest.
Sending Magical Energy your way, so you can get your work done! #barrioblues
This morning, I got up at 5a.m. because I am not as exhausted as I have been these last few months. Yes, months. I started revising my novel The Harvest and wrote a major premise out of it that women are genetically modified to be like cats. Now, the elite are just genetically modified, but the mods are unnatural. Obviously. The revisions weren't too radical, and the first 32 pages read a lot better. I am really hoping to have the novel revised by the summer, so I can submit it to the Pitch Wars.
Also, I finished rewriting the last story of my first-ever young adult short story collection. I took the advise from my Facebook friend Hector Cruz, and changed the love story line. It is more realistic and truer to the main character. I am going over the hard copy of that story this morning, if I have the energy, which I do. I am really striving to write beautiful stories in this collection. I was deeply inspired by a great story I read last night from Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse, "A Song Before the Sunset". I want to write like that.
I also got the book Bloodchild: And Other Stories by Octavia Butler with my birthday Amazon gift card. That is a much deserved treat.
Well, my work is cut out for me today, and I have two paper piles to get through, including short stories by my students.
Reach your writing goals and maybe, give yourself a little reward. #barrioblues
I spent this afternoon rewriting the last story of my next book, Not Your Abuelita's Folktales. I still need to amp up the main character's desire, but the story is a lot better than the original story. (Thank you beta reader.) The other three stories are fine. Now, I just have to go over the last story, then whole thing and focus on minor word choice changes and edits.
I'm really trying to hit my writing goal this go round and write something really beautiful. Part of that is the ongoing voice development; part of it is writing something I would pick up from any bookstore shelf.
Anyway, if I go at this pace, I'm going to hit my March deadline. Woo hoo!
Then, I am going to move onto revising my novel, The Harvest. That doesn't mean I won't work on other short stories because The Awakening is calling, but one thing at a time.
So, now that the frown is curved up, I'm off to reread what I just wrote.
Keep on, even when you're down in the dumps. #barrioblues
No, I'm not a quitter, but for the first time, I'm thinking of throwing the towel in or postponing the writing until after I retire. Unfortunately, retirement won't be for quite some time, like in over 15 years and between now and then, it would probably be better if I kept writing.
My husband thinks I just need to be more balanced, and I can't disagree with that. He keeps telling me to focus on why I do it, and if it’s not fun to quit.
Well, it’s still fun. Nah, it’s more than fun. I love writing and still haven’t met my writing goal.
How do you keep yourself motivated?
Anyway, after I started writing this blog post, I started thinking about artists who just kept doing their art, sometimes into their old age. They didn't give a shit what anybody thought and kept doing it. Now, I happen to be in a fortunate position where I can eke out time to write and don't have to worry about starving, so I quit the pity party. I also got caught up on my grading, and am going to work on my short story collection.
Keep on, whatever your art is. #barrioblues
Sometime in the future, I'm buying Adobe PhotoShop with my educator discount. That way I can design my book covers and not be pestering my friends for help. I want to redo La Bruja covers. I was thinking of having the face of a woman in black and white and changing the colors of the titles for each book. I like the image in the original La Bruja in the Orchard cover, but it is muted. Now, changing the cover won't increase sales or exposure, but I have to do it for my own inner peace.
Anyway, on the writing front, I drafted a short version of the writing article I mentioned in yesterday's blog post. I was pretty happy with what I wrote because I think it speaks to advice beginning writers should keep in mind, and sometimes seasoned writers, e.g. are you comparing yourself to other writers? Stop. Stop. Stop. I thought about drafting one on character development, but there was already an article on that in the first magazine edition.
That's all I've got. I have to review essay drafts and sneak in writing time somewhere between my work and running after my kids.
Take your writing by the horns! #barrrioblues
Yesterday, I drafted the first flash fiction piece I'm thinking of submitting. In that first story, I tried to capture the casino culture in the neighborhood where I grew up that often preys on retirees. I hope to write a few of these short pieces and choose the best one to submit to each venue. I have a goal of submitting three by April.
I did read the story to my husband last night, and he said, "I want more." I tried to explain that flash fiction was a flash, like the difference between a Polaroid and a TV show. Then he asked, "Is there going to be a sequel?" Sigh.
Besides generating micro fiction, I am also working on a short 500 word article on writing. The focus is going to be three great pieces of writing advice, since the article is so short. If it gets published, I will post the link to the magazine, but you will have to subscribe.
I also got thoughtful feedback from my beta reader on the last story of my collection Not Your Abuelita's Folktales. When I write, I don't really think about the length. He told me my stories were novelettes. He also confirmed that the desire for the main characters wasn't clear, which I suspected. I think I am making her goal too complicated. She needs to figure out what to do with her boyfriend. That's it. Isn't what what young people struggle with sometimes? Nothing else is coming to the surface like the other stories, and since this conflict starts the story, why not make her goal related to it? I also thought about cutting that story out and working on it longer, but it's almost done.
Whatever you do or how busy you are today, keep grappling with your writing and making new discoveries.
Kick writing ass today! #barrioblues
I'm keeping this one short, no pun intended, because I have to give feedback to essays. I decided to take a shot at some flash fiction to submit to different venues. I already have one done that I need to go over, but I am writing a fresh one about a retired man who is addicted to the casino. No, there won't be magical realism in this piece.
The collection, Not Your Abuelita's Folktales, is still a work in progress. I farmed out the last story to my friend for review, but it is long. Mostly, I need to revise the last story and proofread all the stories before I review the printed proof. The other issue is the cover. My friend is going to design the cover, but I know he's really busy. I think at some point, I may take some graphic design classes and buy the software, but the software is not cheap.
Anyway, I'm off to immerse myself in literary interpretations.
I went over my writing goal because the kids were sleeping in. Actually, I think I met my weekly goal because I wrote for over three hours. Yay for holidays. Well, I should say I went over my story and added bits to it. I just sent it to my beta reader friend, which took courage. The story is 30 single spaced pages long, so I hope it is not a terrible burden on him. I only had two feedback requests because I am worried about the pacing and the main goal for the protagonist.
For the other stories, the goals were clear, but I also spent more time with the characters. This last story, "Never Really Alone" came out of nowhere.
Anyway, I can put it through the ringer later.
I also have been thinking a lot about titles. I ended up changing the titles to my stories for my collection Not Your Abuelita's Folktales, so they reflect the meaning of the story better. Sadly, "Rita vs the Duende" didn't really say much, but "Magical Bully" does. I only kept the title to the second story:
When the Devil Came for Him………..………….47
Never Really Alone………………....…………………97
I think they are more interesting.
That is all I've got. I have to grade writing exercises and drafts, and clean the house. I haven't been able to develop the other writing team to support me at home, besides my husband. I wish I could hire someone to clean the house, but realistically, that is not going to happen any time soon.
Meet your writing goals and don't let the paralyzing guilt of a messy house bring you down. #barrioblues
I have to be more disciplined about sticking to my writing schedule. These last two weeks, I spent a lot of time focusing on presenting the faculty contract at other colleges, then decompressing. The decompressing has been somewhat paralyzing. Plus, I am not able to get up at 3a.m. like I used to, but I do want to hit my writing every day. However, when I am not writing, I am thinking about my work.
On my birthday, I finished my short story collection. Lately, I've been re-imagining the titles of the stories in it, to shorter punchier titles that really deal with the meaning of the stories, and I hope to revise the last story and send it to the beta reader, since I have some time to focus on that story this holiday weekend.
I have also been thinking a lot about my novel, The Harvest. I'm not too crazy about transforming the women into cat-like creatures. What I am interested in is genetically engineering them so that they are stronger and more beautiful, at least by their social standards. In truth, that won't take too much rewriting. I also realize that I need to play up the thread that keeps the reader interested. The Harvest has to be a constant thread the protagonist wants to discover.
So, this weekend, I took my students to a leadership conference, and I went to a motivational speaker. He gave a lot of great bits of advice, but one thing that stuck is that you can have dreams and excuses, but you can't have both. He also talked about taking small steps and doing better the next day than the previous day, which sounds like typical business motivational speak, but all the advice was useful. Still, he did ask us to find what kept us motivated. Mine is still to craft beautiful stories and writes something I could sink myself into.
It sounds easy enough, but it's not. That takes a lot of work, but not mountains. Anyway, I do like this last collection very much; I just want every story to be fucking brilliant, but that doesn't happen overnight. It takes hard consistent work and doing better each day.
Remember why you love to write, and take one step at a time. #barriobules
So, I leveled up today. Sometimes, I get the blues when I turn another year, but not today. My husband made me a naked cake and then, salvaged it with strawberry jam and Cool Whip. Then, he made me an awesome vegetarian breakfast, with one egg, a fake chicken patty, and cut fries. My husband doesn't normally cook that well, so I was surprised and overjoyed. I also got a gorgeous, microwavable soup mug, which I am taking to my office, since we have no microwave at home. Yeah, we're weird that way.
Today, I gifted myself the time to write, but I have this damn migraine trying to creep in, so I am resting for a bit. It works out because my daughter is home with me, so it has turned into a "Can I have..." kind of day. Thus far, she has requested two cup cakes (neither of which she finished), water, help peeing, and grapes. The thing with kids is that they ask for things in a rhythm that often keeps disrupting whatever you do. Now, she wants potato chips. Love it!
That is why I admire writing moms who work in short spurts. I don't feel so bad when all I can do is sneak in 30 good minutes. Even so, it is only 10a.m., and I have set the gauntlet to finish the last story in my collection.
Send prayers and happy thoughts!
Keep writing, even if you are doing all of your other important jobs, the best job of helping someone grow into a wonderful human being. #barrioblues
Dr. Jesú Estrada,