Wendy Fox smiles after escaping the creative abyss.
Wendy Fox, contributor to Issue XVIII of The Puritan, recalls some of the woes, as well as the triumphs, of pinning down the unwieldy.
“Zinc” is part of a larger work, a novel that does not yet have a home. Before I wrote “Zinc”—and many other sections in what is now a full manuscript—I had been fiddling with ideas and passages for a long time, and writing short stories in between. Then, I was getting frustrated at what felt like a lack of progress on the novel, and with what felt like fragmentation with the stories. All together, there were a lot of pages, but the pages didn’t cohere into anything much.
Increasingly, I wanted to work on the novel but I wasn’t sure how to manage it; I was very daunted. It seemed so long. Every time I opened the file, the word count would spin up and I would think what the hell am I going to do with this.
Also, I was (and am) working full-time in technology marketing, so I was (and am) struggling with finding time to write, which was why I also kept giving up on the novel and returning to short stories. Shorts are not easier, but the bites are smaller.
“Zinc” happened when I had an idea to focus on writing stories about the people who were in the novel, because stories I could deal with. I could have also called these “chapters,” but chapters are different than stories, and what I didn’t know when I first started doing this was that looking at these people through the lens of the story gave me some freedom to pay attention to more concentrated moments and better developed scenes, which helped me deal with a problem in the novel manuscript—the problem of narrative summary.
Focusing on stories also gave me momentum. I was able to finish them, and send some of them out to journals. Getting good news from places like The Puritan was a boost to get through the next round of pages. A year later, “Zinc” is different: much more like a chapter. Still, I’m happy that it’s out there as a story.
Wendy Fox earned an MFA from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers in Spokane, Washington. After working as an adjunct instructor in the local community colleges, she moved to Turkey to teach literature in a state university. She was included in the anthology The Expat Harem: Foreign Women In Modern Turkey (Seal Press, 2005), which was the #1 English language bestseller in Turkey. In 2011, she was a top-five finalist for the Minnesota State University at Mankato’s Rooster Hill Press short fiction competition, and her story “Ten Penny” was selected as part of a series by The Emerging Writer’s Network for 2011 National Short Story Month. Other work has appeared or is forthcoming in Apple Valley Review, The Coe Review, Grasslimb, The Madison Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, The Pinch, Pisgah Review, PMS poemmemoirstory, Quiddity International Literary Journal, Washington Square Review, and ZYZZYVA, among others.