Head down and dreaming

I took a break this past week from my novel-in-progress to finish up a short story for submission to the San Mateo County Fair Literary Anthology.

Pig races and high art

Courtesy of San Mateo County Fair Literary Arts Department

Now, who even knew that the San Mateo County Fair had a Literary Arts Department? Certainly I didn’t. The last time I went to the fair, it was all about the pig races and fried dough. My, how times have changed.

For the last few years, a dedicated group of writers has been working hard to put together a mini writer’s conference within the Fair. This year promises a great lineup of workshops, readings, and related events. (I should know; I offered to help out on the committee.)

Creativity on deadline

But back to the writing. I had started the short story almost five years ago and put it away in the proverbial bottom drawer. It consisted of a single scene, but upon rereading it, I felt immediately drawn into the world I had started to create. Then came the challenge. I had no idea who the characters were, what were their motivations, what the conflict would be—and I had given myself a deadline of one week to write the first draft so I could share it with my critique group and give myself enough time to polish it for the mid-April deadline.

I set out on a journey of faith. Every morning, before diving into e-mail or blog reading or paying work, I opened up the short story. I wrote another paragraph, and another. I still felt like I didn’t know what the heck I was doing.

Then I began ruminating on the story during yoga class, when I woke up in the middle of the night, and on walks around the neighborhood.

Bikram Yoga
Bikram Yoga (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I went back at it the next morning, and the next. I tried not to muscle through. Instead, I tried to open up the space for the words to come into. And, lo and behold, they did!

This morning I finished it off. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it finished itself off.

More to come on whether this approach yielded something worthy, and on the process of editing that will follow over the next week. One thing I’ve started to suspect, though, is that there might be something almost physically addictive about getting into that trancelike writing state I mentioned in an earlier post.

Ice sales update

Five weeks ago I wrote: “So, dear blog followers, you heard it here first: I am (re)committing to executing the marketing plan for Dance of Souls that I wrote up last fall…. If you don’t hear about some marketing activity every few weeks, feel free to excoriate me!”

Let the excoriating begin. Well, maybe partial excoriation is in order. While I did not explore ads on Goodreads, I did, as promised, send books to the Goodreads giveaway winners.

And I did meet one of my marketing goals from early on: getting 100 Likes on Facebook. Questions remain about the value of such. (One of the blogs I found through the “karmic chain” reflected on the value—or lack thereof—inherent in these liking circles. Interestingly, I would never have discovered the blog had it not been for the chain.)

This marketing stuff, I’m realizing, is just like everything else: a practice requiring daily dedication and rededication.

5 thoughts on “Head down and dreaming

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  1. Great post Audrey! How exciting that you came back to the short story and fell back into it. I love how you were world building and character developing during yoga. I find the weirdest insights come when I’m engaged in some physical task. 🙂


  2. I’ve never been one to write short stories–probably because of the limited time I’ve had in the past for writing. I spent whatever time I had on my novel. But lately I’ve been wondering if I should attempt one. From what you describe above, you just dove in and wrote–didn’t do an outline first. Is this correct? I’m in the outlining phase of my new WIP, and although I want to really get a good storyline crafted, so I don’t have to fix plot holes later, I am eager just to write. Maybe starting a short story may be the way to go.


    1. Stay tuned for my next blog post… all about outlining! You’re correct, I didn’t outline this one. I have never in my life outlined a piece of fiction, hence my challenges with plot :-). But I’m beginning to understand some organizational methods that might help but which aren’t “outlining” in the strictest sense.


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