I’m going to be my own writing coach. I will read my first draft of the story I’m working on, and I’ll say to myself, “Hey, Keiko, this is really good! Keep working on it!”
I will reply, “Really?”
“Yes!” I’ll say. I’ll be so enthusiastic I will convince myself. I will say, “Write a second draft. I want to see it.”
“Okay,” I’ll say. And I’ll send myself the next draft.
When I get it, I’ll call myself up right away. “Okay,” I’ll tell myself, “This is really starting to turn into something.”
“Thank you,” I’ll say. “But I don’t know where to go next. Do you think you could…?”
“Sure.” I’ll sound very encouraging. I will help myself learn to figure things out for myself. “What do you think is missing?” I’ll ask.
“Well,” I’ll say, “I think I need to know more about what the houses were like in San Francisco at the turn of the century. And how much they’re still like that today.” I’ll think for a minute. I won’t interrupt myself. “You know,” I’ll say, “I’d really like to have it set in a real house, one that’s actually there. I love it when people do that.”
“I’ve noticed that in your work, too,” I’ll say.
I will be impressed and flattered at first, but then I’ll sigh. “I never seem to manage to do the research.”
I know what it’s like to feel defeated like that. But I will have the solution. “You know,” I’ll tell myself, “research is just an excuse to read things you’re interested in.”
“I guess so.”
“Go to the library. Find some books.”
“Well…” I will hesitate. I won’t believe I deserve it.
“Go ahead. I want to see the third draft, the one with the details set.”
“All right,” I’ll say. And I’ll go to the library. I’ll write the third draft. I’ll send it to myself.
“I think you should send this to beta,” I’ll tell myself.
“I want to fix a few things still…” I’ll say.
“No, remember what Gayle said: Do beta on things that aren’t quite ready. Hey, I’m sure Ruth will love this one. And she’ll probably be able to help you even out the facts, like she did with ‘Willie Blake.’ And Anthony might know specifics of that neighborhood even, or the time period.”
“And Liza is a historian, and Betsy—”
“Are you typing the email?”
I’ll stay on the phone with myself until I’ve sent it.
When I get the beta comments back, I’ll go over to my house and sit with myself to go over them. Or better yet, I’ll meet myself for coffee. I’ll help myself understand what the comments mean for my story. I’ll draw out of myself what the story wants to be. I’ll help myself excavate the fossil. I’ll buy myself another latte and make sure I leave with a plan for the next draft.
When I send myself the next draft, I’ll reply, “Submit this.” When I balk, I’ll tell myself to send it to the Flash Fiction Forum ladies. “That will be less scary,” I’ll say. I’ll agree. I’ll call myself up and stay on the phone with myself while I submit it.
I’ll go to the Forum. I’ll introduce myself to my writing friends. When it’s time for me to read, I’ll sit in the audience with my friends. When I get down off the stage, I’ll tell myself I did a great job. I’ll make sure I write down any comments the audience gives me so that I can see if they need to be incorporated, but I’ll tell myself to wait and not think about it yet. “Just enjoy the rest of the Forum,” I’ll say.
The next day, I will get together with myself and help myself do the final draft. We’ll choose the first place where I’ll submit it. I’ll stay with myself until I’ve mailed it off, and then I’ll take myself out for lunch.