My Oldest Short Story is “Vacant”

There are three basic, self-assigned, writer phases that have pre-dated the fourth phase I am entering now: 1) Dream; 2) Write & Dream; 3) Just Write; and 4) Published Author. For the longest time, I was stuck in Phase 1.

PHASE 1. I would dream the dream: writing and publishing and all done with such ease and wild acclaim and raging talent to spare. This did not happen. More than it not happening based on merit, it didn’t happen because I wasn’t actually writing during the dream phase. I was dreaming about the effects of writing at a level I literally could only imagine.

PHASE 2. Next, I moved into the write and dream stage, where I would write short stories and portions of novels (if they can be called that!) all while dreaming of the great discovery that I thought I was and how fortune would shine on me and my talent and I would take the literary world by storm with my powerful words. This, also, did not happen for many reasons. Mostly, I lacked any kind of personality or style on the page, but also because everything I wrote sucked and/or was also a bad rip-off of some other story. I had no credentials, zero personality in my prose, and barely enough linguistic knowledge to hold my own attention, let alone an agent or editor. Needless to say, Phase 2 was tragically long and unproductive.

PHASE 3.  Around this time, I realized that if I wanted the “dream” then I should just buy a fedora and moleskin notebook, go to the nearest bar, and pretend to take notes while drinking bourbon on ice or absynthe. Otherwise, I should just write. With the help of my wife, who was also struggling with writing, we pushed each other to produce and each wound up with a handful of stories and okay novel drafts that was finally a good foundation to build upon. We each applied to to grad school for fiction and writing, got in to our individual schools, and went to work on sharpening our craft. This phase continued for a long time, the longest of the Phases, but will end on June 4th as my novel ZOMBIE publishes on June 5th.

PHASE 4. Soon I will move into this phase, whereupon my novel will publish and the cycle will shuffle back to the beginning, and the dream will begin again.

Today one of my oldest short stories, “Vacant,” was published in JMWW’s Spring 2012 journal. It was bitter sweet to see a story that has clung to me for dear life for so long finally find a home. The earliest draft of this story (that I could find) was written at the very end of Phase 2. It was also the first time I ever wrote in the female POV.  Enjoy!

Keep on.


About J. R. Angelella

J.R. Angelella has an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and his award-winning short fiction has appeared in various literary journals. He teaches writing at the University of Maryland, College Park and lives in Baltimore with his wife, the writer, Kate Angelella. For more information, visit his website at or follow him on twitter: @jrangelella.
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