The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

So I Guess I Got Published?

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Longtime follower of The Seeker and former bossman Herb emailed me a few days ago to say congratulations on having “Anthropology” published.  I told him thanks for his sentiments and for the surprise–I had no idea the story was already out, and damned if I’ve seen the publication yet.  For whatever reason in my mind, I thought it’d be out in October or something.  Guess I was wrong.  Doesn’t matter.  I’m still published.

This one was more (or even the most) difficult the other stuff I’ve gotten into print.  I was trying to remember when I started it, and when I dug through old drafts on my laptop, I found a version dating back a year and a half ago.  I’m sure that’s not accurate, though, because I remember starting the story on Spring Break in 2011 when I walked into a local Starbucks and the idea for the story kinda exploded on me.  Actually, not the idea for “the story,” but intense motivation to at least write something.  I was watching and listening to the employees interact, mainly because one was carrying on like a phenomenal douchebag.  His tones of voice and high-minded thoughts and opinions cut through the pleasant pungency of coffee until they had polluted the environs entirely.  I tried to drown him out by turning up my headphones and working on whatever it was I originally went there to work on.  No dice–I was so compelled by whatever that stooge was doing that I started to document his interactions with his coworkers, and the setting details in the store, right down to the song that was playing at the time.  It turns out it was “I’ll Come Running After You” by Sam Cooke; the use of the song remained in the story throughout.

I putzed around with some stray ideas about Mr. Barrista, and ended up with six pages of a first draft in my journal.  I’m looking at them just now, and am surprised to see that I wrote the story in first-person.   I maintained that point of view for about three weeks as I revisited the story.  At one point, I tried to type it all out, and I think that was when I realized I was frustrated.  Things didn’t feel right, and I didn’t feel confident enough as a fiction writer to fix the situation.  For some reason, I didn’t crash forward heedless of roadblocks, which is what I pretty much do most of the time.  I stashed the story somewhere for a few months, and when I looked at it again, I had a good feeling.  I felt like I had been onto something, and couldn’t quite remember why I had put the story away.  I went back at it, put it down again for a short time, and resumed work after inspiration hit me via another short story I read.

It was around this time that I had the chance to take a fiction workshop at Northwestern.  I had a complete draft of “Anthropology” to submit, and it ended up being the first thing we work shopped.  I took my lumps and accolades, worked for a short time on adjusting a few things, and then got sidetracked by writing still another story.  “Anthropology” was dead–I chalked it up to experience, and didn’t regret that in the least.  Practice is important, and the experience of writing the story at least got me a little further along the way as a fiction writer.  In fact, I said herein that it’s ready for another workshop if the opportunity presents itself.

Last summer, then, at another workshop, I pulled “Anthropology” out again, but only because I needed something to put in my final portfolio that showed some kind of effort and multiple drafts.  I made a switch back to the first-person point of view, and when I read my piece to the class I was stunned by their reactions.  For the first time in a year and a half of sweating over the story, I felt like I had finally achieved some kind of effect with it.  I was encouraged enough to submit it to a few places for publication.  In January, the publications editor for the Illinois Association of Teachers of English emailed me to say that if I’m willing to tone down the sex and swearing, she’d bring the story to print.  I conferred with a few trusted friends, one of whom told me to stick to my guns and don’t make edits.  The urge to be published was overpowering, though, and another friend walked me through some edits he felt would soothe the editor without savaging the writing.  He must have been right.

So the process for this story ran more like an uncomfortable train ride with a lot of long layovers.  But it’s in print.  Or at least I’ve been told it is.  Don’t know when I’ll see it, but hopefully soon.  It’s unlikely that anybody not a member of IATE will see the story, but if you want to see it, drop me a line or post a comment and I’ll send it along.  Heck, I’ll even send the version with the original sex and swearing intact!

Written by seeker70

July 22, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. That’s great news Jeff! I think I’d prefer to receive it that way than the alternative. As always, you’re a hard act to follow. Maybe this is a sign that publishing might get a little easier for you; you’re certainly working hard enough to deserve that.

    Joel David Hutson

    July 24, 2013 at 10:01 am

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