bits and pieces
Do you use a thesaurus when you write? I do occasionally, usually when the right word is swirling just beyond my recognition but never as a means to puff up my word choice. Yet a certain successful genre novelist has supposedly said that writer should never use a thesaurus, that if you have to look up a word this way, then it’s the wrong word.
I don’t get it. Maybe I’m missing some essential context for that admonition, but why would a person who works with words want to surrender an essential tool? Wouldn’t that be like disdaining a dictionary or spell checker?
I spoke bravely last week of intending to send my story, which is titled “The Death of Superman” by the way, to several lofty markets. (Given that it is part of my Fathers and Sons story cycle, you can probably suss out the theme based on the title.) I can report this week that it is now out to a half dozen magazines. A couple are publications I’d like to see my work in. A couple are places where I had some near misses in the past. One has an upcoming theme that might (or might not) fit that of my story. (I’m approaching their theme from pretty much the opposite direction from what they seem to be looking for. I’m hoping they find that intriguing and refreshing.) Since the story is “literary,” there are hundreds of potential markets for it, so in the weeks to come, I should be sending out to plenty of other places.
The story is 4,800 words and, oddly, that’s been a problem in some cases. Several magazines I was interested in have an upper limit of only 3,000 words. It’s not like this is commercial fiction; readers of litfic tend to have the attention spans (or endurance) to read longer pieces. When I saw that limit at one publication, I wrote the editor saying I had what I thought was a story that perfectly suited their point of view but was longer than their requested maximum. She wrote back saying, sensibly, that as a print publication, they have limited space, and in order to be able to include diversity in their selections, they have to restrict size. Okay, that makes sense. But ezines?
I use the term “story cycle” for my Fathers and Sons pieces in part because I like the sound of it and in part because it does seem to encapsulate the relationship of these stories. Yet I’m finding that because these stories involve only three characters as protagonists, and because they span three generations of living, I need to pay close attention to the relationships/implications of what happens in each story to foresee how it will affect the other stories. It’s getting to be more like writing a novel. Such are the troubles in my life.
“Velvet Elvis” has been nominated for the Million Writers Award. I’ll find out in early May that it was not selected as one of the Notable Stories among those nominated. And then I’ll find out at the end of May that it was not selected for the Top 10. But it’s an honor just to be nominated, right?
No thesaurus was used in the writing of this post (but I would have used one if I felt I needed to).