1,000 Words of Summer, Part 3
We did it! 🎉
We did it! We wrote 1,000 words a day for 14 days and it went GREAT. I am feeling relieved, happy, proud, and hopeful that I can continue at a fast (though maybe not that fast) pace for the rest of the summer.
This week in writing
I kept at my plan to begin a new short story each day. I now have 14 beginnings, a few middles, and no endings. I still haven’t read any of them — I’ll probably let them breathe for a month or two and then see which ones I actually want to finish — but glancing over them, I’ve got:
A bunch of characters with interesting jobs — front desk at a community acupuncture clinic, production coordinator on a reality TV show, sculptor, exterminator, focus group conductor, etc.
More than one set of former friends meeting again after not speaking for years
One story set in the 20th century
One child narrator
One pregnant narrator
One flight from Chicago to Phoenix
For the most part, I was able to get my 1,000 words across two morning sessions: 5 to 6am (or whenever the kid woke up) and 8:30 to 9am. Miraculously, and unlike pretty much any time I’ve tried it in the last two years, my early morning session did not wake the kid once! I don’t know if that will continue (if today is any indication, it won’t) but if he only had in him two weeks of sleeping until 6am and those two weeks just happened to perfectly align with 1,000 Words, I’ll take it.
This week in reading
I attribute my success at actually getting the words out to the fact that I read a ton of short stories in June. Pretty much any spare minute I had, I was reading short stories. I restricted almost every app on my phone aside from the Libby app, and I checked out a bunch of story collections and anthologies from the library. I also pulled out my back catalog of literary magazines and left piles around the apartment. I just tried to make it as easy as possible to pick up a story. And, like magic, the more I read stories, the more ideas for stories I have.
This week’s stories included:
“Fable” by Charles Yu, published in The New Yorker in 2016
“The Lady with the Pet Dog” by Anton Chekov, published in Russkaya Mysl in 1899
“Agnes of Iowa” by Lorrie Moore, published in Granta in 1996
“The Eclipse” by Isaac Bashevis Singer, translated from the Yiddish by David Stromberg and published by One Story in 2022 (though written in the 1950s)
“The Outing” by James Baldwin, from his collection Going to Meet the Man, published in 1965
If I were to do this reading-only-stories-for-a-month exercise again (and I think I will, because it’s a great way to get a bunch of different examples of voice, tone, setting, perspective, etc. in your head at once), I would introduce a method for choosing the stories, to make sure I’m not falling back on my favorite writers and magazines over and over, but for my purposes in June, it worked.
I’ve decided to go back to the pond novel.
If I can keep up this momentum, we can have a full draft before the end of the summer. I haven’t looked at the manuscript since March, and I really didn’t mean to stay away this long. I don’t mind having two novel projects going — it’s nice to be able to work on whichever one is calling most loudly — but I also don’t want to let it sit so long that it goes stale. Plus, it’s a summertime novel.
I probably won’t be able to get 1,000 words a day every day, but I’ll be sending at least my 10 pages each week, trusting that all the pages will add up to something.