joni abilene

Just another site

Month: July, 2013


One thing I will admit about myself is that I have absolutely no confidence. I can draw, write songs, play guitar and piano, I can write comprehensively (most of the time), but I have no confidence. Not one speck. I think that’s why it’s so hard for me to submit work to agents and journals. It’s not that I am afraid of failure, it’s that I somehow set up a pre-failure within myself. If you think about the word ‘submit’ the definition is to yield and surrender; to give; offer to the gods; let go. It’s all very passive and scary. It’s not at all empowering as it’s sometimes suggested you’re supposed to feel. And I think some people do feel empowered when they submit their work. “Aha! Reject it. I dare you!” I never think such things. I’m always nibbling on a hangnail, triple checking for errors, hoping I have the editor’s name right, all commas in place, links in order, etc. I just know something is wrong.

I’ve never been a social person. You’d think writing would be the ultimate goal for a recluse. But instead I’m finding that writers—the successful ones—area all seem to know each other, agents, editors, publishing houses. They’re all twittering on twitter, and meeting at readings. I’m so awkward. All I have is these stupid words that I write, and they’re never good enough. But I can’t stop writing. I just can’t.


Carrying On

So, after finishing Woman in Love I found myself suffering real pain over the loss of Keith Day. I have a thing for outspoken male characters. Okay, I have a thing for outspoken men in real life too. One time this fellow started up a FUCK Facebook campaign on his blog and that was it for me.  All plutonic of course. I just lusted after his fierce vernacular for a year and then let it all fade into the nether.

But in a fictional sense I fall in love too, which is nice and safe and happy and no one ever has to say goodbye. Now I wouldn’t typically extend a character just because I missed them, but I did have a grand idea for a new book and that’s what opened the doors to carry on. I’ve put Keith in his own book, first person narrative. We’ll see how it goes. Don’t want to spark the bad voodoo by talking to much about it, but so far I am enjoying the new wip and plan to carry on the same way as WIL—two pages a day (at least) until the plot is resolved. If that happens in 50k, fine. 80k, fine.

One thing I have to say, not having a wip to spew out was killing me. Never do the funny stuff, hardly drink, and so I gotta have my writing.

Life’s just a lot more fun on fiction.

Endings, Beginnings

A few weeks ago I received a rejection for my short story collection Woodsocket ’79. The manuscript spent ten months in final deliberations with a small press in San Francisco and by  the summer was among a handful the press felt deserved to be published. In the end only two could make it, and unfortunately mine wasn’t among the two. I was depressed when I heard the news, but extremely proud to have been considered. I’ve only submitted the book to three publishers: one rejected it with a very long letter of praise, another only took novelettes and wanted me to condense the story down to the one central character, and the last was the press in San Fran. So, now I’m trying to decide what to do. Send it out again? Wait another ten months? I’m not sure I want to go through that whole scene again. But I haven’t given up on the novel just yet.

As for my current novel, I completed edits and have now begun to ponder the future. Then comes querying. I have a love/hate relationship with the whole thing. Most of us, I feel, itch to query, but actually doing so is a big wake up. Is anyone really going to want this book? Did I write something just outside the lines of mainstream? On one side, I have a story of a mother who is suffocated in her marriage, has never had an orgasm, and who endures martial rape in the first section of the book. On the other side, I have a vulgar young man with a slightly sexist viewpoint. He cusses, relates everything to body parts, and is generally an asshole. But a lovable asshole. I wrote what I know and love, but that doesn’t mean the world will love it. I wrote something high-concept, but common. Once a writer friend, upon reading the first chapter for critique said, “This is good. You are a good writer.” Of course then she proceeded to tell me that parts that weren’t good (of which I am very grateful). My hopes are that this novel will do well and see a bit of success. I don’t want to think about it that much, I just want to move on and write the next. This week I’ve already written down two ideas for novels, and there’s a backlist of others that need attention. I don’t need all that clogging up my brain. I just want to write.

Plus, I’m reading To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time since high school. The good news is, I don’t have top write a report, the bad news is I keep wondering if Capote wrote it.


My last post was a dire cry out into the far-reaching expanses of this lonely world: pressure, failure. But, as I so often do with most of my undertakings, I got over it and trudged toward the finish line like a runner with a bad knee. Last week I saw that July was looming, and as my original goal was to finish Woman in Love by the end of June, I hunkered down and wrote my proverbial ass off. It’s not often my endings appeal to me; I’m much more of an opening sentence kind of gal. But I’m fairly well satisfied with how I wrapped things up. It doesn’t feel rushed. It feels just right. And I’m happy. Now comes the really hard part of editing this monster.

At one point in my writing existence I thought editing was fun. Turn on some music, wipe the lenses of my glasses, let’s get down to business, baby. But now . . . agony. It’s like eating crab legs at a fancy restaurant one night and then being handed those same crab legs a month later. Yuck. So much time has passed. I’ve grown. My characters have grown. I can’t possibly sit here and pretend I like something that was fresh and appetizing so many weeks ago. I just can’t.

I have to. We all have to. Ain’t no one else gonna edit this sucker for me. I gotta do it myself.

Gone are the dreamy days of May and June when I woke up every morning with a purpose and a dream. Gone are the voices of fictional ghosts meant only for my brain, to be filtered through to my fingertips. Gone.

Now I have to be a hard-ass and crack a whip over my manuscript. I hate this part.