I'm not sure if I mentioned this before, but I submitted a piece to an anthology recently. I also submitted something to The New Yorker and to an audio publishing company as well. I'm looking forward to finding out how I did, although I'm doubting that The New Yorker will accept my piece. I am not doubting that they'll find the subject compelling. But until that particular story is published somewhere, I don't think I really want to discuss any more than that. So I currently have three out.
My play is coming along slowly but (gaaah! cliche) surely. The biggest problem I've encountered is the formatting which, without the proper software, has taken me forever to fix. And then to have fixed it incorrectly, well, I'm totally making headway, but not as fast as I'd like. It didn't help last night that I had a dream that I was staging this new play that I'm anxious to write while I have my head buried in a half dozen writing projects all while looking for a teaching position for the fall. So basically, it's like this: I have theaters that I'm ready to call. I have a play that is written and edited, but needs a format fix. I'm almost done with the format fix. I have a play that is begging to be written but will have to hang on. I'm not messing up this time. I'm now researching play formatting software. I've got short stories in various stages. I've got the once every other week short story that cries to be written in one sitting and edited in the next.
I hope I don't sound like I'm complaining. I'm in complete creative turbo drive and I'm thrilled. Really. Honestly. There were many years that went by where I just couldn't write anything. It wasn't because I didn't want to, but more because I was in a pretty unreceptive place and too concerned with what people would think. I'd forgotten the lessons I'd learned as a writing student, to the point where I was allowing outside influences to stifle my creativity. I am lucky to live in a place where I have the freedom to write what I want and to think freely. Of course, with freedom comes responsibility. (Insert line about not screaming "fire" in a crowded movie theater here.)
While some may disagree, I feel that the work I've been producing lately, whether humorous or serious, is very important. My goal is to empower those with no voice (I'm sure there are many with this same goal) and to give strength to the weak. It sounds pretentious in sort of a Holden Caulfield-esque way, and my ego is not huge and I certainly don't see myself as an out of control messiah figure, but I do know that the best literature is that which speaks to the reader and touches the reader in some way. I want to shed light on issues in our society which often remain hidden from view. I want to open the eyes of those who don't know, to the plight of those who do.
I don't recall all of the titles of all of the books that I've read, but I love when I read a book that spurs me to research something further. I love that curiosity, that knowledge for knowledge's sake, those moments of excitement upon learning something new. (This right here is why I love teaching.) I love learning not because I have to, but because my own teachers passed on their own love for learning. (This is the part where if I continue, I'll break down in tears telling you just how much I love teaching and cannot wait to get back into the classroom, so excuse me while I end this paragraph here.)
Anyway, I believe I was mentioning the goal of my writing. And the truth is, not everything I write about involves repression or oppression. And happily, it doesn't have to. But don't expect happy fairy stories from me. A friend of mine complained after reading "Total Immersion" (I'll let you when it's published) about how I really should stop writing things like that. You know, things that make you think, question, that don't necessarily end with everyone living happily ever after. "Who is going to want to read that?" she said. The comments on other stories (not from the same person) were about having a disclaimer, about warning the reader about the story in advance, about not writing these things. Writers write because we have something to say, because we have a story to tell and because if we don't tell our stories, who will? For a while, I'd forgotten these lessons. Now I'm catching up.