Every prose writer encounters those emotions; and they stifle composition. Prose is ever more of a challenge than formal and fact-based objective composition due to individual creativity and choices are near infinite in their influences -- those are subjective, emotion-based, and, intangibly, of a moral charge basis.
Despite an ample creative composition tool box and Utility Belt, I do run afoul of those emotions. Why? I've meditated at length. What don't I understand that I need to grasp? Want to embrace? That I crave? Something is missing, something I lack. What?
I own no shortage of inspirations and ideas, nor dearth of imagination, nor lack of ability. Is the shortfall one of too much knowledge, too much to bring to bear as best needed in the now moment? No, something else is shy.
What? Time to work? Perhaps. I know my writing is more productive when I have few everyday-life distractions. Without distractions, though, the influences of stress and pressure are missing -- for their nonconscious influences.
I can compose a two thousand-word narrative draft in two hours, four hours of rewrites and revisions, two more hours of proofreading and editing for grammar and such. To no end except declined, declined, declined, ad nauseam, bounced due to nonsufficient funds as like a paper hanger's rubber check.
Two thousand words is the mean for writing workshop submissions, for prose writing classwork. That amount is suited to the time constraints of coursework, respectful of classmates and instructors' time, effort, priority, and process. Longer narratives demonstrate no more or less what works and what doesn't work for readers and bog down in the minutia of too much content to assess and comment about, instead of big-picture areas, which are manageable for commentary no matter a narrative's length.
Two thousand-word narratives, though, are a limbo length zone for the marketplace culture, generally. Too short to develop substantive expression and drama legs, too long for the micro fiction arts' snapshot viewpoint portraits. And writers are generally longer winded, have larger ideas and intents than that length can contain. Often, that length prose is more anecdote, vignette, or sketch, rather than dramatic, per se.
Average reader time reading budgets vary: micro fiction's few moments, two thousand-word's fifteen-minute coffee break, longer short fiction's meal breaks at work or in a reception room on line, and novelette, novella, novel's weekends and week-long vacations and "staycations." Flash's apocryphal thousand-word ceiling and somewhere above a few hundred words' floor is about five minutes reading time.
I've thought for much of my writing life that limited time available stood most in the way, and lacked crucial skills and insights. Lately, I've realized that procrastination is a justification of those excuses. Also, the distractions, oh so many distractions, those are also procrastination strategies. Why do I procrastinate?
Because I doubt, am confused by the near infinite possibilities, and fearful and angry because of doubt and confusion. Fearful most of all of rejection and also trepidation the resource and emotional investment expended might, probably will, be for little or naught, and angry because of that fear. Depressed -- consequently. Uh-huh, any writing is progress, not wasted effort. Fine.
I fear rejection most of all. That stifles my writing. Much study and practice improves my confidence, though. These meditations realize at least an area of my procrastinations' resistance -- my fear. Now to, what, develop strategies for coping with or, hallelujah, transcend my fear?
Yeah, sneak up on fear from an enfilade crossfire. Piece by piece piecemeal that adds up to a synergy's synthesis. Face fear from slanted directions, nonconfrontational approaches. Not utterly defeat fear, use fear to advantage. Like, say, write about fear for no particular publication purpose, for grappling with fear. Then, so what if it goes nowhere except transcendence of fear!? Or, a practical irony satire about fear's obstinate oppression and ultimate transcendence thereof might appeal to a global base. Resign to and resign fear as natural and necessary to success.
I'm fairly certain that all writers in all stages of development encounter these emotions from time to time. I've been there too, fairly recently I might add. I'm currently on the upswing, but don't expect that to last forever.
Constructive criticism from other writers might help with figuring out what a narrative is lacking. Letting a manuscript sit for awhile and approaching it again at a later date can help, too. (I know that's pretty standard advice, but I've experienced the benefits of both firsthand.)
It also might be a good idea to focus on the optimal length for each individual story separately, rather than aiming for one blanket length in the effort to finish a story in one sitting. I understand your desire to optimize your writing,but varying story lengths to best suit the narrative could give you a bit more freedom to explore what you want to do with the stories.
This is going to sound weird, but the best way I've found to cushion the pain of rejection is to submit my stories over and over again. There's still disappointment when a manuscript isn't accepted, to be certain, but I've grown more accustomed to that than I was when I first started writing.
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On the darker side of the writing life is the incidence of suicide among successful writers who faltered. One recently, David Foster Wallace passed into grace 2008. Like others of similar circumstances, Wallace's published writing reflects an accessible life struggle.
My writing is another matter from Wallace's whatever struggle. Suicide, for example, is not on the menu. I identify with Wallace's struggles, though transcended pressing influences similar to his long ago. The writing life is isolation and solitary confinement, like a life sentence for an uncommitted crime and no crime to be a writer and no offense save that of damaged identity and for which writing is at least cathartic. My writing purpose is also something other than cathartic, a life calling to a service I will not name here.
My experiences with online and in-person writing workshops and critique processes and reader panels, etc., leaves me wanting a closer insight than I have yet realized. Over the decades of reading, writing, studying, and critiquing I've done, though, I've found methods to grasp at ideas that hover out of reach and that then can be reeled in.
One epiphany last year as a result of an ethnography dissertation I composed in 2013 was profound, that I still explore, that of who, when, where, what, why, and how folk learn morals. That in turn led to a years long broader examination of literature's overall social function and realization of the epiphany. That also in turn this year revealed in full my life calling.
I realize now works that have been in the trunk for months or years waiting for what's missing to materialize. That is fulfilling and a consequence of these recent epiphanies. So much in the trunk, though -- too much to resurrect in one fell swoop. Much, though, to work with as occasion presents. Curious, too, that the trunk is an archive of seeking a calling.
Length of a work is not per se an issue, nor whether any given narrative entails an ideal length, nor if one overall ideal length presents, more so a matter of content fit to container, container fit to content, and both fit to a larger publication and social culture container and content.
I do occasionally submit, more to dress rehearse and test the waters, so to speak. I will not anymore, though, submit until I'm fully satisfied a work suits its market niche. Nor do I care anymore to submit multiple times as if looking for a spaghetti noodle to stick on the wall. Many's the midnight candle burnt interpreting why a house declines a work and numerous considerations to boot.
Thousands of declined submissions over the years blunts the pain of rejection. Personal rejection, too. My doubts, confusions, fears, and angers are of another stimulus. Not quite immune, though close enough, more so, the outcome currently isn't one of stifled nor afraid of submission; rather, frank bluntness that a work is yet unready for debut. I'm danger close to realizing my method, message, slant, etc. And that will make all the difference. Meantime, I write.
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