18 June, 2010

Pushing, erm, rocks uphill

Yes, two actual weeks have passed since I updated. And not because nothing's been happening. I've been working my three-days-a-week job, reading grant applications like a machine (an intelligent, discerning machine, natch), and hacking apart a short story and putting it back together.

When I sent it off, this story, I thought it was done. (This has happened with whole novels, too.) I thought it said what I wanted it to say. It was for an anthology with several editors, and they discussed all the stories in their editors' meeting and they sent me comments and questions about mine. Hmm, this is unusual, but good, I thought, and read the comments and questions. Oh, okay, I could look at that bit again, no problems. Oh, some of them liked this and some hated it, lemme have another think about it. Et cetera. So back I went back and read the whole story through.

Whereupon what has happened to Kate happened to me:
you go home and you read the MS again and you think "Jeepers creepers! What was I even thinking? ZOMG. Fail!" and you become insanely, intensely grateful to the person who told you it wasn't ready because a) They were, really, being nicer than they needed to be and b) You now have the opportunity (and, hopefully, if the person gave you a tidbit of editorial advice, the tools), to make it ready. Or, even better, to make it awesome.
I've made it nearly ready. It still needs a bit of work to get it up into the awesome stakes. All along I've been resisting the temptation to tell the editor-in-charge-of-me that I'm reworking it, or worse, send the half-rebaked story to her for her opinion. You know, Margo, when it works and when it doesn't, I say—despite the clear evidence to the contrary (the earlier draft, the kind, detailed editorial letter). Just apply yourself to the damn thing until it really is done.

Some stories happen almost all by themselves; you sit down and they tumble forth, and only need a nudge and a tweak here and there to make them presentable. Others fall out in quite the wrong form, and you have to push them up the hill several times before they'll roll down the other side satisfactorily.

This is perhaps not the best post to choose to remind you that I'll be running a short story workshop at the NSW Writers' Centre tomorrow I believe there's still space left, but get in quick.

Now, back to the rock-rolling.