“How’s your writing going?” My dad asks me. I’m trolling Books A Million, my third book related stop of the day. I’ve already been to the public library to get my library card, as well as to the used book shop in the quaint little downtown area I finally got a little time to explore. I still haven’t found the book club book that I’m looking for, but I’ve found a lot of other books that I find equally enticing.
“I’ve been busy with my blog–the content and learning about hosting my own site,” I respond, surveying thick computer books with a critical eye. I’m looking for a book on Java, which, my boyfriend has explained to me, is completely different from Java Script. Who knew? It’s a birthday present for the boyfriend; I hope he likes it. I want to show that I’m interested in helping him progress as a person, that I actually am listening when he goes into tech speak.
“I have to buckle down and work on my book. I don’t know when it’s coming out now,” my dad laments. He was shooting for a Valentine’s Day release, as his book centers on relationships. I’ve recently introduced him to the wonders of Smashwords, a program I myself haven’t had the opportunity to use, but is highly recommended for self-publishing. “Everytime I get close to finishing, there’s something else. The book keeps changing at the eleventh hour.”
I know how that feels. You think you know where you’re going, then all of a sudden, there’s a detour. Has this ever happened to you? You’ve thought you were done with a story, then you go back to revise and find yourself going in another direction entirely?
I have a short story that I wrote for a creative writing class. Our teacher required us to make a large revision (we had to change/refine at least fifty percent of the story, I believe. These were significant changes, not merely proofreading and adding a sentence). I don’t write that way. Usually, when I finish writing, aside from proofreading and revisions for clarity and style, it’s done. So I wasn’t excited about having to change my story.
After taking into account some of the things that people in class pointed out weren’t working, I see an entirely different angle that makes one character’s agreement to even meet for the climactic moment more believable. I add in backstory on another character that explains a bit of her brass attitude.
The revisions go well and my teacher asks me if I considered publication for it. I put the story away for a while, intending to give it one more fresh look before I sent it out for possible publication. When I pulled it out again, I found even more areas to expand upon, more places where I wanted the writing to be more concise. I wanted to concisely reveal more detail/personality of a supporting character. I’ll just tweak a bit here. I handed in the story revision in the Spring semester of 2008; the story has been sent to zero publications.
I’m having a bit of trouble letting go. I know that this isn’t all of the story, that other short stories may follow with the focus being characters that are supporting characters in the current narrative, maybe, but I can’t seem to get this story out of my hands and into the hands of publishers.
How do you know when a story is “done”? How do you force yourself to declare it a finished product and begin the (possibly) long process of trying to get it published? Someone help me let go, already!
- The Art of A Short Story (writeanything.wordpress.com)
- Smashwords Author Brian S. Pratt to Earn over $100,000 in 2011 (teleread.com)
- Libraries set you free! (2011) | Hari Kunzru (harikunzru.com)