Over 1,500 blogs, dozens of articles, and three poetry books have resulted from my writing over the past few years, but I had not published a short story until today! I published a few short stories when I was in high school and college. During my professional career? Not one.
Poetry has been my forte. I’ve published over a dozen poems in the last few years. When it comes to fiction, I had a short story place as a semi-finalist in a contest a few years, and another short story earned me a scholarship toward attending the Southampton Writers Conference in 2009.
A little behind-the-pen scoop on the story:
“Tuna Heart” was inspired by actual events that took place on a fishing charter my father took off of Montauk Point, Long Island about a decade ago. Whenever a tuna is caught, all persons on board are supposed to bite off a piece of the heart. I’ve had an idea for a story about this since then, but never had time to write it. I’m including an excerpt below, a link to the story, and how I made time to write the story. (Side notes: Fun thing about this issue of Mused Literary Review is that they selected three beautiful photographs my boyfriend took. Here, here, and here. Not only does my story take place on Long Island–but all of the photos were taken there as well! This is the second time our bylines have appeared together.)
The rod was a solid C-shape as Hank struggled to reel in the tuna. At about five hundred pounds, the tuna had an advantage over Hank. Hank fished his entire life, but a fish this size was not like the blues, sea robins, and flounder he caught on Long Island Sound. This time he fished off the tip of Montauk on the big waters of the Atlantic.
After a three-hour struggle, Hank got the Piscean creature on board. The end of the constant stress and action gave the rod a chance to stretch straighter than Hank was able to stand. The imprint of the reel was branded into Hank’s palm. His arm felt like it forgot how to be an arm, and it hung limp on his right side from all the reeling. If he closed his eyes he couldn’t tell if he was lifting them or not.
He wasn’t old, per se. His twenties were gone and he was disappointed with how far he had come in life. Hank turned thirty the day before, an age that felt much bigger than it sounded. Like tuna. Thirty wasn’t some sealed can you held in the palm of your hand. It was heavier. And he was tied to it like anyone, pulled by it. Like that tuna he ripped from the sea and now lay ugly and big for the rest of the world to see…
Read the rest of “Tuna Heart.”
Making Time to Write
With the weight of my writing business schedule and traveling, I had not been able to regularly attend critique groups in Raleigh that usually meet in the evenings. My time is more flexible during the day, so I started a daytime critique group that meets once per month. I wanted to make it work for me, so I:
- Chose a small time commitment
- Keep the group to just four writers including myself
- Pick locations convenient for me
- Have no requirement for finished pieces
- Do not enforce monthly attendance
- Do not manage an email list of multiple writers. (Those who register will only be critiqued if they send a file.)
The routine of meeting every month makes me produce new work. I commit to have something new to share, whether it is the first 300 words of a story or a completely rough piece of flash fiction. When I managed a larger critique group it was a huge time suck: Maintaining an email list, making sure files were submitted on time, ensuring files were in a format everyone could read, etc.
Now I can focus on what’s really important: Writing.