Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Anthology Angst

A few years ago, I wrote a short story. The story was one of those "what if" ideas that popped into my head and wouldn't leave. I had no particular market in mind. Every so often, I would pull out that story and revise and submit. Eventually it found a home as part of an anthology with a small publisher.

In December 2013, the book was finally completed and offered through I was so excited! I ordered a single copy for my personal bookshelf. When it arrived in the mail, I performed all of my book rituals--I ran my hand across the glossy cover, I brought the book up to my nose and inhaled the wonderful scent of paper and ink, I gently fanned the pages a bit to check out the black typeset on the cream colored pages, then, I closed the book and hid it between two other books in my to-be-read pile.

That's right. I said I hid it. Why? Well, I don't know. I knew what my story was about. I knew I proofread my work before it went to print, but I didn't know the other authors. I didn't know the other stories. I break out into a cold sweat when someone reads my work. What if people hate it? I know, I know. I had put it out there for the world to see. That's the chance I chose to take.Suddenly I felt shy and unsure of myself.

I've heard people say that being a writer is a lot like parenting. Our stories are like our children. Having one of those stories in an anthology is like a parent bringing their child to their first day of school. All the parents stand around, holding onto their child's hand, knowing they should let go because it's time for them to leave the shelter of our homes, get out into the world, and hopefully become a source of pride. But we also fear whether our child will be accepted. We don't want them to be criticized. 

As writers and parents, we can only hope we did the best job we could, forming and nurturing our offspring. I know I need to own this thing. I need to grab that book out of its hiding place, do some marketing and tell the world all about it. 

It's pretty cool really. I was part of this project that brought 14 writers together. Our stories, just like our children, may be individuals, but in an anthology, they meld together into a group with a common purpose. I am a part of this book of stories, in all its glory and even with its flaws. 

On the first day of school, once the children are coaxed into their classroom, the parents stand around, feeling awkward. So I decided that I'll be that one parent who invites the others over for a cup of coffee and some conversation.

I hope they come. We'll see what happens.

In the meantime, check out our collaboration: Contrary Cats (my baby is on page 55)