We are taking a little side track on the blog today...not that you would really know it because my blog is pretty much all side tracks, but from the list of what I was going to write about in my head this just jumped the line so, trust me, side track.
I'm reading a collection of short stories right now, not just a collection but The Best American Short Stories of 2014. Get that? THE BEST. So to get in to this collection you had to have been published someplace in 2014 and been good enough to catch the eye of the editor of the collection (that changes every year, for 2014 is was Jennifer Egan) and then you are published again in this collection of THE BEST.
I'm about half way through and let's just say that Ms. Egan and I would probably not share book lists. There have been a couple that were decent and a couple that weren't my cup of tea and a couple that were just...odd. Like I want to say bad, but the writing was competent, so not bad necessarily but just not great. With a short story you have very limited time to make a connection with the reader. Half the time on here I write micro stories so it's even less than that. You have to come right in with a hook, with a reason for the reader to care, with something, anything that makes the 15 minutes I am going to spend in this world worth it.
And some of these just don't have it. It never comes. It isn't there. I have a feeling Ms. Egan likes edgy for edgy's sake. I am a huge fan of edgy, but there has to be a story there. For example (and this is a HUGE spoiler so if you are going to read the collection feel free to skip ahead I will mark where you can pick the blog back up) There is a story about a woman who ends up with her husband's child from an affair he had. The boy is obviously severely autistic and the woman has no idea how to handle him and by the end of the story he is lost in the woods and there is pretty much zero chance he will be found. Which should be incredibly sad right? But the author has used this child as a side prop to a story so there is no real connection to him at all. Or to the woman. Or to the father. Or to anything. You can tell it's not going to end well, it's practically telegraphed from the first paragraph, but you still really can't muster a give a damn about a 5 year old special needs child being lost in a forest in Colorado during fire season. Holy shit...if you can't make me care about that I am not sure how this is THE BEST.
YOU CAN START HERE AGAIN SPOILER FREE....
Okay, so as I'm reading these short stories, which are my thing, as you all know, and I am replaying in my head over and over the radio silence I've received from publishers over the years (which is fine, really, I have you all and I love you all for reading my stuff, I do) and knowing that I can't get any outside interest in my stuff (which really is fine, I mean I've accepted this, really I have), yet this this is THE BEST I wonder what the hell is going on. They were published not just once, but twice, with stories that are just okay. *sigh* (I'm fine. Really.)
So now I am taking a deep breath and remembering that not every story is for every person. Don't criticize the artist because their art isn't your cup of tea. Don't hate the player, hate the game.
BUT JESUS CHRIST THESE STORIES ARE NOT THE BEST!
So now I'm at a crossroads. I really had reached a point where I convinced myself that getting published wasn't the end all, be all in writing. After all what is published, right? I mean when I write something and put it on here you all read it so technically it's published right? I've never been motivated by money (much to Brent's chagrin) so being paid to write has never been my goal. But all of that being said, I feel like Last Comic Standing, "I know I am a better writer than..." and I sort of feel like I should at least put a push on one last time to get something in print with my name on it so someone else out there can read my stuff and be motivated to write because of how much they hate my stuff...