I get the idea looking over a book of literary criticism of another book I’ve never actually read. I do read it. I’m not disappointed exactly. I knew going in that I had my own idea. I try writing it. The results are too happy. I’ve since lost them.
I try again. I write feverishly for a month, a month that isn’t NaNoWriMo; 7,000 words in one day. I belt out every sordid detail like I’m trying to get it out before I drown. What I have when I’m finished looks like a cross between a fever dream and porno. I was trying to write horror. The one person I convince to read it agrees it’s not scary, but has no other feedback.
I set it aside. It is what it is. I have no aspirations for it besides maybe being scary, and it’s not.
Years pass. I keep the one song that reminds me of it on my iPod. I move across the country. I get a lot of lectures from my writing coach. I start to remember.
Years pass, but one day, I pull up the file again. It looks like home.
I make a calculated attempt at a submission. I scratch the dialogue out at work, bring it home, and build the rest of the story around that over a few weekends. The results make me happy, though they aren’t euphoric and weird. I figure that’s normal for submission stories.
The person I get in contact with for revision help calls me while I’m in the middle of sorting some miniatures. I don’t hold that against them, but the timing is enough to make me laugh for the first time in days, there while I’m sitting in the middle of a display of tiny flower pots.
We get to work.
We go through seven drafts. I know I’m not the easiest person to work with, but this person goes out of their way to teach me and show me exactly what I did wrong.
And yet, when the deadline I set comes, I don’t submit.
I look at the file and I feel nothing. The verve isn’t there.
I still can’t look at that story for more than fifteen seconds.
I come across an anthology that’s open for two more weeks. I drunkenly ask my roommates if I should submit. I’m a happy drunk, so they tell me yes. I don’t recall if I mentioned the fate of my last attempt at a submission to them at the time, but I did later.
This time, when I decide what to write, I dance with vodka and Vaporwave. My cat is deeply confused. But, in the end, I know what I’m doing.
The next night, I start doing it. I blast music and bang on the keyboard until all hours of the night. I even try to write after getting stranded at a craft fair for six hours, but those words all end up in the trash.
My coach is booked that week. My usually proofreader is out of town. I find another one. Their life goes upside down, but they still find me some commas. In the middle of draft three, I realize the gentleman once again leaving nonsensical abuse in my inbox ought to be referred to the police.
I finish that draft, and start over revising from the start. I do it again and again.
The day before the submission is due, I send it in, because the truth is I can’t look at that file anymore either.