I am in a rut. There: I’ve said it. I’ve hit that undesirable spot with myself and with magazine editors which can only be described as “close, but not quite right.” I suspect this unpleasant down-beat means I need to learn something important–which is good, but frustrating when I’m not sure what it is. Don’t get me wrong: there are TONS of things I need to learn. That’s what’s making it so challenging: I know I’m a long ways off from where I want to be as a fiction writer, but have no idea how to get there.

I do think I’m getting better. Slowly. But in the midst of a dry spell it’s sometimes hard to appreciate that past growth when the learning plateaus seem so steep up ahead, and hand and foot holds are few and far between. I’m missing something vital, I can feel that much rereading my own work, but just like the submissions I read that are “close, but not quite,” it’s equally hard to put my thumb down on what *specifically* is throwing it off. That, coupled with the paranoia of the dry spell is making it extremely tough to keep the chin up.

But taking a few days off writing to breathe and remember that life goes on beyond the blank page, I’m trying to climb–clumsily–back onto the old horse, starting with–you guessed it!–a list:

1. I’ve picked out a certain magazine that I’ve gotten several “close, but not quite” rejections recently. I’ve picked up a bunch of copies of it–backlog and current–and I’m going to read them cover to cover and study like crazy to figure out where I’m not quite hitting the right notes.

2. I’m going to jump back into working on the practice novel. Nothing can be hurt by my pushing to finish it, and it’ll give me something to hammer away at, regardless. Maybe it’ll even prove to me that I *can* in fact write a novel-length work with a comprehensible plot and multiple characters. :)

3. I’m going to pick out a few of my rough draft backlog stories that seem promising, and I’m going to rewrite and edit them as needed, hopefully to a point of being submittable.

That’s all for my list for now. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself, because I’ve found that also lends itself to my personal resistance. The third one is in blue, because if one of them has to drop, I’d rather it was that one.

On a more positive, day-to-day note, I’m pretty excited by the few practical turns life has taken in the past month to get me in a slightly better frame of mind (the above excepted). I’m still settling into a routine with the new day job and Andy being on summer break from school, both of which–while very pleasant–means re-evaluating my writing schedule to accommodate. I used to write first thing in the morning, but with the day job starting at 7:30AM these days, I can’t kid myself that I’m anywhere near enough of a morning person to get up any earlier than I absolutely have to in order to arrive on time.

That leaves evenings, but that has its own sleepy/dinner/hang-out/etc. challenges. That plus this writing rut make it even harder to dedicate time to something that seems to be going in pointless circles. BUT-! I recognize that getting words on the page will not make my writing any worse, so we shall forge ahead just as if everything were turning out well.

Onward and (hopefully) upward! :)

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