I’ve spent most of my life writing. For much of my career I churned out letters from the superintendent and school board, news releases, and newsletters. Long ago these made their last journey to the recycling station, occasionally stopping first to be shredded. That’s why I’m thrilled that the class anthology for Popular Fiction 1, my last year’s writing course, is available — in print and on-line. It includes my short story, “The Main Course,” a tale of family, thwarted dreams, and pickled chiles. As far as I know, the book hasn’t been out long enough to be discarded, much less shredded.
The University of Washington sponsored the anthology project, which was open to all the writing certificate program classes by genre. About ten of us in Popular Fiction participated, and those who didn’t are now saying, “I wish I’d done that. I’m definitely going to get involved in this year’s anthology.”
Why is the publication of a short story that thirty people at most might read, that is, assuming all my friends for whom I have purchased paperback copies as Christmas presents read it and some of my classmates’ friends, so important? Mostly because after I dedicated so much time and effort to the project, I want someone besides my spouse to appreciate my work.
Also, having a substantial tangible product is a reward. In our so-called knowledge economy as well as in the service industry, workers often repeat the same activity over and over. I wrote more than five hundred school board meeting summaries, publications with a shelf life of thirty seconds, undoubtedly producing the same sense of accomplishment as changing the sheets on the same beds day after day must give a hotel maid.
As recently as yesterday, I was thinking about not getting involved in the upcoming anthology project, since the last one took me away from my other writing for at least three weeks. However, given that the odds against my novel crossing successfully through the unpredictable and risky waters of publishing are about the same as a salmon completing its life cycle and returning home safely to spawn, I’m rethinking that decision. Having two stories in publications would be very satisfying. Equally important it would simplify the problem of choosing Christmas gifts for a second year.