I used to work for The North American Review and I edited fiction for Flyway for a while and so I'm very aware of the mass of work that comes in and of the mass of work that gets rejected. A lot of it is very strong and gets judged too quickly even if the reader spends long stretches agonizing over it. A lot of it is great and vibrant but not right for the journal, or comes in at a time when the roster is already stuffed. When my own projects come back unloved from agents and editors I try to remember what it's like on the other side of the conversation, for that person stuffing the RJ notice into the envelope or pasting it into the email.
This kind of thing has me thinking lately too about the nature of writing, about why we bother when the odds of anyone reading and enjoying what we put out are so long. Earlier this week Nick Antosca asked on HTML Giant how important it is for writers that their work be read or published. While I don't consciously dwell on the hope of finding homes for stories or novels while I'm knocking them out (I think that kind of obsession would trip up a lot of stories), if I were certain that no one ever would touch the things I'm putting together I would probably focus my energies in a different direction. I would become an excellent rock climber or alligator wrestler. At the very least I would become a visual artist. I am a terrible drawer and painter and have been jealous always of my friends who can put out even something awful (by their standards) and still have a vibrant and interesting object to hang on their walls and enjoy. A writer who produces anything less than amazing, by contrast, has at best a stack of scratch paper to use for future notes, or to use as the plate for a pair of microwaved pizza slices, or to fold into airplanes to launch at a cat. And a lot of times even the projects we love find these same uses.
This is the kind of thinking that lead me to start my current project, writing a (very) short piece each day on my blog. I'd been looking around for an idea around which to organize a blog, and this seemed like one that would also give me an outlet for the ideas that I usually toss away, flashes of fiction that I usually skip in favor of the longer or somehow "fuller" projects that demand more time and attention. I'm thrilled to be invited to share some of them here.
What about you? What do you do with the ideas that animate your thoughts briefly but that don't have a place in your larger schedule, or that you don't want to hector the world about while you focus on the projects that are more important to you? Is it enough that these things exist fast in our heads, or do they need to be created, and if they do need to be created do they need to be thrown out into the world at all? What criteria do you use to decide? And if you don't plan to send it out, do you still create it?