Thursday, May 31, 2012

Grad School Is Over...So Now What?

My two-year roller-coaster of grad school has finally come to an end.  Classes are over, and I'm in a holding pattern as I wait for my degree to post.  I'm told this could take as many as 12 weeks.  In the meantime, I'm trying to rebuild the writing momentum I had last summer.  But what does that mean?  Where do I go from here?

First things first.  Let's go out on the deck and have a drink.  Here's the view from my deck, which might explain why I'm so partial to thinking there.

I began the degree with hopes of teaching in a community college.  This still might happen, but since a multi-billion dollar California budget deficit was recently announced, I'm guessing slots will be few and far between at the few local community colleges near me.  I'll definitely apply once my degree posts, but all I can do is cross my fingers, polish my application materials, and hope for the best.

Dude, this really is a killer view.  See that pasture to the right?  Sometimes there are cows in it!  And they trot happily along, grazing in the company of one sheep and one goat.  It's true what they say.  Happy cows really do come from California.  

But seriously, in terms of writing, I've got a slough of to-do items on a list that's sat largely untouched since the semester began.  Publish next ebook?  Working on the formatting as we speak!  Publish romance manuscript that won the Daphne DuMaurier award last summer as an ebook?  Maybe.  Haven't had any luck with agents or queries for it, but truth be told, I haven't tried as hard as I might.  I'm fighting with myself on whether to go it alone here and self-publish or query some more and see what happens.

I have a pile of short stories, some needing to be sent out and some needing polishing before being sent out.  Short stories are so weird, you guys.  My creative writing professor assured me all of the things I've turned in are worthy of being published.  Yet they've all been rejected multiple times.  (Peter Ho Davies noted in an interview that he heard the average number of rejections for a short story before its acceptance is 12.  One of his stories was rejected 25 times before acceptance.)  I'm not near that number yet.  So I guess this means I need to research markets, read more journals, and submit, submit, submit.

I feel torn in several directions.  There's the literary side of me--the one that writes short stories and sends them to reputable journals.  There's the genre side of me--the one that writes thrillers and romances and dreams of mass-market publication.  There's the DIY side of me--the one that's put out two ebooks so far.  But I feel like I'm going to have to choose who I want to be....the writer I want to be.  Either that, or I'll have to start using a pseudonym for certain types of writing.

I feel like, as a writer, we are told we need to pick a market and stick with it.  Genre or literary?  Short stories or novels?  But what if I like all of them?  What if I'm able to write all of them?  Can I do it all, under my own name, without crossing some invisible boundary that the establishment doesn't want writers to transgress?

I feel a little bit like I'm walking a tightrope.  The literary journals I submit to might not want to publish me if they Googled me and see my ebooks.  But those books are just as much a part of me as the literary short stories I'm sending out.  Do I really need to submit literary fiction under a different name?  Or re-do my ebooks under a pseudonym?  I'm not sure yet.  I don't know how to be sure.

Have any of you struggled with this issue?  Do you write under your own name, or a pseudonym?  Do you write in different genres?  How do you get published in each one?  I'm all ears!