So, I didn't win the Ploughshares Emerging Writers contest for fiction. I had to have thought I had the chance, sending in a story. But yeah. Just the way it goes. The story I submitted has the dreadfully clever title of "Ethics and French Literature", which some of you may have read in its earlier incarnation of "Atticus".
In receiving my rejection email, I did discover that there is a blog associated with the magazine. And on that I found a topic near and dear to my heart: having more than one Work in Progress.
The author of the post, Rebecca Meacham, was slightly bewildered at first, but all for it, really. She gave it the charming title "Beach Writing"; as in, you need a break or vacation from your "main" WIP, so take a vacation to the beach and do that writing. You can return to your original work after the vacation.
It's interesting that I happened upon this post in the Ploughshares blog, as it was also the subject of a recent post by Ava Jae on Writability. She asked if people had more than one WIP at once; I do. I also, as I said in the comments, have a number of projects I've started and never returned to.
Sometimes I'll just write a short story all the way through in the space of a couple of days. Sometimes I will in fact complete a novel in a month, instead of just mostly. But there are a lot of files on my computers that end mid sentence, or just before something significant was clearly going to happen....and I don't know what that was. Or there are stories that stop because I want to get the next bits just right, and I circle the issue, and circle, and as my gyre widens I find a new center.
It's something that niggles the back of my mind, certainly, and something I thought about when I wrote the What's Your Legacy? post. I don't want somebody else finishing these novels, like Albert Camus' kids. The way around that is to finish them myself, certainly, though I have pesky concerns like going to work to pay my mortgage and put food on the table (and in the kibble bowl). I have to work to be able to write, though I'd like to be able to write for a living. It's not quite a circle, almost more like a recycling symbol, with the little arrows telling you what to follow.
But anyway. I'll keep at it. If nothing else, my brain doesn't let me stop. There are some days I'd like a bucket to catch all the story stuff that comes out of my head, so I don't lose any of it. New story ideas, fully formed sentences for existing ideas, character quirks, details to savor. I'm a writer, whether anybody else thinks so or not. It's just the way it is.