Over the summer I practiced writing. I set word count goals and met them. I finished drafting a novel, which I’m now letting simmer before picking up again. I wrote short stories and tried, unsuccessfully, to sell them.

Now that the fall is here, I am firmly into the off season. I am taking a literature class, and I’m going to focus on that rather than focusing on fiction writing. When the class ends, I’ll be back into writing until the next class starts.

I do a couple short stories that I want to sell, if I can ever get to a point of satisfaction with them. Both of them are almost too long to be short stories and too short to be novellas. I could probably get away with the term novelette but I’m not sure I want to. They’re both fantasy, but different types; one of them has a more science fictional bent, and my husband says it reads like a prequel to a larger story. The other one I wrote deliberately as the first in a series, but I’m debating trying to just make one long story instead of making short parts.

In a way, it doesn’t make sense that I want to write stories and sell them, rather than focusing on creating a real career for myself in my current job or going back to school for something practical like computer science or medicine. I’d be good at those things, maybe better than I am at telling stories, almost certainly better because I could study them and put the pieces together and have a right and a wrong answer. Proof by theorem and definite results.

Writing is subjective. There are books that people love and books that people hate and books that I’ve read and wondered why and how on earth did these get published? All the “rules” that I’m reading are clearly broken in these cliched and strained piles of ink – so how did they get through the gatekeepers supposedly guarding the sanctity of literature from the ravening hoards of self-publishers (I’ve always wanted to join a hoard!).

I think I’m getting better at figuring out what doesn’t work, but not enough so to garner any sort of feedback, positive or negative, except from my husband – and even he sometimes refuses to comment. He tells me that I’m at a zero, on the scale of minus one, zero, plus one. Not bad enough to solicit negative opinions, but not good enough to solicit positive ones. Zero’s not a bad place to be, but I get frustrated. How am I to know what’s wrong with my storytelling if I don’t get any comments? If it’s just so blah, then how can I know what to change to make it not blah?

Such are the paranoid ramblings that make me glad to give myself an off season.

If having written and submitted a story today, and submitted another to a different market, actually counts as an off season…

Update, 9/17: I wrote and submitted another short story today. Apparently, I really don’t get this off-season thing.

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