A week ago, I got the idea a story based on Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried." Instead of Vietnam, it's set in a for-profit art school that's closing. What I find interesting about this fact is that in the weeks before I got the idea for that story, I was feeling uninspired and wondering if I was done with this idea for the collection of linked stories. After all, it had been almost a year since I left the school that has served as inspiration for those stories. I wasn't sure that the stories I had would assemble themselves into a book. And then, bam--a new story idea comes to me, and it's a great way to end the collection.
As I've been writing the stories before the one I started writing a week ago, I wasn't sure that the fictional school would close. So far, the real school hasn't closed.
I have that school on the brain for many reasons, one of which is that we're approaching the one year anniversary of my leaving. I came to my new job as the school was moving into high gear to find a new accreditor--and yesterday, after a long process, we got news of the granting of accreditation. Hurrah!
In some ways, this process reminds me of writing a dissertation. There are benchmarks that one must meet and then revisions that must be done and then the wait for feedback and then more work to be done, and more waiting, and then, even more work that must be done, even when one is ready to move on to new projects. And finally, the good news, the "yes" that once might have seemed like such a distant goal. Yet because the process has been so very long, the ecstasy blends with exhaustion.
And of course, this process is like most creative processes. One reason why I'm not more aggressive in sending out book-length manuscripts is because I feel like I don't have the time for an extended revision process or a publicity process.
But it's also because it's easier to put a packet of poems in the mail. It's harder to get the manuscript assembled and sent. And the rejection of an individual poem is easier to bear. The despair that comes from the umpteenth rejection of the book length manuscript is easier to simply avoid some years by not submitting.
This year, with its hurricane, is a non-submitting year. In some other year, I hope to write about how the acceptance of a book length work is similar to finishing a dissertation or an accreditation process.