Writing Madness

One of my goals during my time off is to submit pieces to magazines and enter writing contests. I’ve revised my essay based on the The Ring blog entry about a billion times, and have another piece for this online travel magazine. I wrote it a while ago and was able to improve it (hopefully). The online travel magazine has a lot of opportunities. I have two more essays planned that I want to submit to them.

As for The Ring, first I’ll try Modern Love in the NY Times, ie, the long shot, and then look for other places that might publish that type of essay.

I also want to try Hyphen, NPR’s This I Believe, Newsweek’s My Turn, Nerve, and a few lesser known ones. I like when a magazine offers a theme: it helps me to narrow down my ideas.

In addition, I’m in the process of revising my memoir AGAIN. (Billionth time’s a charm!) I’m glad I’ve been posting exerpts because I got some feedback that the order is confusing. What I tried to do was go back and forth in time: the relationship-with-Joe stream, and the China stream, mostly because I thought people would get bored reading it chronologically. But now I’m thinking it was mostly me who was bored because I’ve read it so many times.

So I’ve decided (and hopefully won’t change my mind) to reorder it so that it’s purely chronological. There are still flashbacks and foreshadowing, and you know right off it’s about a husband who has cheated on his wife, but I’ve basically broken it into five parts:

Part 1: The Rat and the Horse
Joe (the horse) and the narrator (the rat) meet.

Part 2: The Rat and the Monkey
The narrator (still the rat) goes to China and meets her cousin (the monkey).

Part 3: The Rat and the Rat
Joe and the narrator’s marriage; taking care of the Joe’s mother (also a rat).

Part 4: Rat, Horse, Rat
Joe’s affair and the aftermath. The second rat refers to Joe’s mistress (what is it with this guy and rats?).

Part 5: Rat
Divorce and the aftermath.

The rat/horse/monkey stuff is tentative. Right now I like those for subtitles, but I’m not 100% sure. It’s good to read the manuscript in order because I didn’t realize I repeated myself several times. When it’s out of order, it’s easy to forget I’ve already written something and repeat it in another section.

There are three memoir contests I’ll be entering. The first deadline is October 31 so I’ll be working like crazy for the next couple of weeks.

Finally, November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, as the cool kids call it. I did it twice, and both those novels sucked. But this year I’ll have so much more time. I have to think carefully about this because once I commit, I’ll want to finish it.

It is just one month, and I don’t have any contest deadlines in December. I could write short essays in the morning, then do NaNoWriMo in the afternoons and evenings. And I do have an idea and have yet to start it. Hmmm. . .


  1. exciting!! btw, i absolutely LOVED The Ring post. I marked it as unread for quite a while in my rss feed reader so that i would remember to go back and comment. i ended up not commenting because i was really just at a loss for words–it was such a spectacular essay.

    i think the timeline of the memoir was especially confusing on this blog because the excerpts were posted at least a few days apart from each other. When read as one contiguous work, as the final published memoir would be, the going back and forth would probably work better.

    regardless, i still prefer the new, completely chronological storytelling

    • thanks, shan!

      i agree the memoir timeline is especially confusing in blog format, but in manuscript format, i was still getting confused! at least in terms of what i had already written.

  2. I know you are doing the rat/horse/monkey stuff based on the Chinese birth signs, but I keep reading rat and placing that as Joe :) You are not a rat!

  3. I just finished editing a story for my magazine that kept jumping back and forth in time–and once I made the writer revise it into chronological order, it read SOOOO much better. Because you know the story so well, you can go back and forth and not get confused, but it may be confusing for others–so I’m all for chronological order! (that’s my 2 pennies)