cycle

I’m at the low end of my normal creative cycle. I’ve noticed, and I hope this doesn’t come out too lavender-crunchy, that my personal creative flow waxes and wanes pretty predictably each month.  Of course, I work full time and have a marriage and a seven year old, so sometimes the stories that would usually be able to bubble to the surface and onto a page are sadly left to cool and are forgotten.

During these quiet periods, I’ve been getting better at training my eye to past works, and being more critical and relentless with edits. I’ve submitted several pieces for publication and the crotchety, keen-eyed bastard-editor who lives deep inside my skull saw lots that he didn’t like this time around.  He pushed his monocle close to paper, frowned, took a bite of ham sandwich, stamped out his filterless cigarette, and pressed his pen down firmly, scratching out what he found unworthy, unnecessary, and trite. He went through a lot of red ink. He’s not a favorite person of mine, but he is useful when he comes around.*

Luckily, a  few things (a very few things)  received his reluctant stamp of approval, and I just received word a few days ago that a piece that I originally shared on here, titled We Blend Our Faith, will be published in the upcoming issue of Glint Literary Journal. There are also four or five submissions hanging on spiderweb gossamer thread, out there in the publishing universe. Like street urchins in a Dickens novel, they’re waiting hollow-eyed and hungry for a scrap of bread to be thrown at them. If they aren’t successful, I’ll take them in again (like a benevolent Fagin) and send them back out another day.

I am reading something right now that is tearing my heart out and showing it to me. How to Breathe Underwater, by Julie Orringer, is a collection of short stories told from the voices of young children and teenage girls. She uses the spare, literal sort of writing that I admire. Orringer’s words come from a sparely written,  flowing like water place that Jhumpa Lahiri, Margaret Atwood, and Jeffrey Eugenides come from. A little detached, coolly observant, and full of a closely bridled undercurrent of passion, Orringer paints her stories with words. The stories are effortless, and they hum.

I found the book quite quickly, and without much thought. I didn’t seek it out. Sometimes I like to go to the library with no expectations and no list. I simply walk through the stacks and listen, waiting for a story to call me. I know this sounds silly, but I ask God to send me the story that I need to read. It always works, this bit of cobbling magic.

What about you? Are you reading something magical right now? Does your creativity bend and curve with the movements of the planet or the shadows of the moon?

*There is not really a small, gnome-like 19th century editor living inside of me. I have no claims to the title of one with Multiple Personality Disorder. I did love reading Sybil when I was younger, and saw the mini-series more times to count. “The people, the people, the people…”

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10 thoughts on “cycle

  1. Congratulations on getting accepted in Glint! And I know what you mean about the low end of the cycle; I have been feeling it too. In fact, I’ve given myself permission to not write. Maybe a little break is overdue.

  2. Congrats on Glint, Chrissy! Hooray! And thanks for letting us know what you are reading. I’ve not read Julie Orringer–the stories sound like the kind I’d enjoy!
    Hugs,
    Kathy

  3. Congratulations on your upcoming publication! How exciting! 🙂

    I think creativity has to ebb and flow or we’d burn ourselves out very quickly. 🙂 If anything, ideas need time to grow and inspiration needs space to develop.

  4. How did I miss this news! Congratulations, beautiful – so well deserved. You are such a great talent. x

  5. Ahhhh, this was a pleasure to read…especially the question posed, “Are you reading something magical right now?” I don’t have what I consider enough hours in the day to enjoy much in the way of quiet reading time…but reading the question makes me wish I had an answer different from “no, I’m not.” And, just the thought of walking through a library to find books for God to point my way….it’s just peaceful. However, I do relate to the ebb and flow of creativity, as being an artist and a musician the same occurs…and I’ve learned to not push it…when it’s time, it’s time. I’m so grateful to be able to read your posts, Chrissy, and just escape for a few minutes each day. 🙂 Congrats on getting published! I loved that post “We Blend Our Faith”, so I’m not surprised others loved it, too. 🙂

  6. It is SO hard sometimes, especially for a working mother!

    I try to read in the little bits I get in my day…during lunch, or sneaking a page in while my computer at work whirs open.

"... all my lovers were there with me, all my past and futures."

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