Tuesday, October 4, 2016

October IWSG: IS IT DONE YET?




This month's question is: When do you know your story is ready?

For me, that answer differ's with each story. I have a minimal criteria: my crit partners need to be down to story tweaking only (no formatting or technical errors mentioned); I have to review my story premise (sometimes entails writing a blurb) and be sure the beginning, middle, and end hit all the hastily written plot points; the submission deadline is not more than a week away; I'm spending more time on a potential sequel or the next new project than this familiar love.

Or, more likely than not, I've found a publisher I want to submit to and I'm curious if I'll get a rejection or acceptance.

I have written several novels, and even queried the one complete book; but I've only really focused on getting short stories published. I guess its because I've had several published. I'm all about the instant gratification - even without a major pay out. I know, the writing motto is essentially: I do it because I have to, not for the money. Well, I guess that's why I call myself a hobby writer: I write because its fulfilling not cuz it pays. Something to keep the boredom away. I play Lotto on the off chance my numbers will come up someday too.

Well, that was the long answer. The short answer would be: its a leap of faith. I either submit to a potential publication (after much tweaking and rewriting) to achieve its fate; or save it to a file and forget about it. I don't believe there is a true "done" to a story. Its like asking the question: when do you stop raising your children?"

I've raised five children to adult-hood. One told me to butt out of his life at 17 and I had to bite my tongue so hard on his decisions I'm amazed I still have a tongue. Another made it to 25 before I finally told him he had to deal with his own life. Is there a right answer to the questions "when is your story ready" and "when are your children grown-ups?"

I say "Nope!" But if you want that thing to be published, you gotta just let go. And believe in your nurturing/creative instincts.

Please be sure to visit our host Alex J Cavanaugh, and this month's co-hosts: Beverly Stowe, Megan Morgan, Viola Fury, Madeline Mora, Angela Wooledridge, and Susan Gourley.

40 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You have to know when to say when.
Chasing short story publication is smart since it is instant gratification. Well, not instant. But faster. And a great way to kick off a career. (Just ask Milo James Fowler.) Are you writing a story for the IWSG Anthology Contest?

L. Diane Wolfe said...

A story is never done because we can keep coming back to it and find more to adjust.

Pat Hatt said...

Sometimes you sure just have to take that leap of faith and let it out there. Or let the kids find their way,

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Donna - you obviously know what's what ... and seem to have the sense not to wait around too long - but I like the idea of short stories ... Good luck and great answer to the IWSG question ... cheers Hilary

DEZMOND said...

as someone who works in the publishing, I must say I prefer people who dedicate more time to their work, make it a year longer before you submit, and save publishers, editors, and others the trouble of reading unperfected manuscripts :) So many of today's writers behave like they can't wait to get published instead of dedicating more time to make everything flawless from every possible angle

Christine Rains said...

A leap of faith is the perfect way of putting it. I like the instant gratification of short stories too. My son says he'll live with me forever even when he has his own little boy. I think I might have to put my foot down in about 20 years!

Angela Wooldridge said...

Yes, short stories do give you that 'instant hit', they're good practice for keeping your writing 'lean' too

Stephen Tremp said...

Yes there comes that time you just have to let it go. And you know it when it comes. Then it's right back into the next book.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I have a lot of trouble with short stories. I have one I've been tweaking for ten years. It's still not good. You must have a gift.

Olga Godim said...

I'm with you regarding short stories. I also concentrate on them at the moment. And you're right: every story is different, like every child is different. They all get ready in their own time.

farawayeyes said...

I LOLed at your comparison to raising children, especially because I had just read a post titled 'Stick a Fork in It'...Ha,ha,ha, maybe that's what I should have done with my children; stick a fork in them to see if they were done. OK, seriously now, you know I would never do that, but it's still a great analogy,(the books and raising kids, not the fork thing) because our books are kind of like our children after all.

I do agree with your short answer,it is truly a leap of faith. I just gotta get off this ledge.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

It's done when I say "It's soup", and not a minute before.

~ D-FensDogG
'Loyal American Underground'

Lynda R Young said...

Trusting your instinct is a good tip. We can second guess ourselves too much.

VR Barkowski said...

Letting go is key. If you can't let go, you'll never submit and therefore never be published. My experience has been unique in that the stories where I've solicited the LEAST feedback are the ones that end up published. They're also the stories I'm least proud of. One day, I hope to find the sweet spot between what readers enjoy and what publishers are willing to publish.

VR Barkowski

dolorah said...

Alex: Milo is a writing hero to me. And yep, got my story in the works for IWSG. I love fantasy.

L Diane: yeah, done that even after the publication.

Pat: easier to let the kids find their own way . . .

Hilary: "seem to" is definitely my modus, lol

Dezzy: some day, I hope you get to translate my well polished, women's fiction trilogy :)

Christine: I had a son threaten that too. Thank goodness he married a girl with different ideas.

Angela: after writing a few short stories, I can slash a lot from my working novels.

Steve: I admire your dedication and spirit of adventure in starting something new.

Elizabeth: sometimes we get stuck on the "short" story concept. If it is a lot of work to "tweak" then perhaps it is a novel after all.

Olga: you're such an awesome short story writer. I need to take lessons from you.

FAE: but I have "stuck a fork in" my kids, lol. Gotta prod them out of the house somehow :)

Saint Mac: hmm, you're making me hungry. What kind of soup?

Lynda: now I just have to convince myself to "trust my instinct".

VR: all stories have their own agenda, regardless of our intentions. It takes as long as it takes just isn't easy for us impatient types.

Diana Wilder said...

I'd say it's done when your friends and beta-readers tie you to a chair and tell you that it is DONE, darn it!!! (Then again, what do THEY know???)

Tamara Narayan said...

I like your analogy to raising kids, but I know I have a long, long way to go on that account.

John Wiswell said...

Submission is absolutely a leap of faith! Even if all your betas like the story, and you think it's a good fit for the market, it could still get bounced out. But we have to try.

Nick Wilford said...

I like the analogy with kids. Life isn't going to be the same for any two stories. Some will be hiders and some will be pushy, wanting to get out into the world.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

It is a leap of faith. Thanks for sharing today. You always say things succinctly and I like that.

Misha Gericke said...

Very true, that. Each project is different, just like people, really. :-D

Yolanda Renée said...

I find I still have things in the novels I've had published that I'd like to change, rewrite. But short stories, it's much easier to let go. I think it's why I enjoy flash fiction so much. Quick and done. :)

Keep writing, nothing wrong with quick gratification!

Brandon Ax said...

As a writer and a parent I have to agree with your assessment completely.

alexia said...

Each story is different, that's for sure. I've written 7 books now I think... gosh, I'm losing count. Only one kid, though :)

Lexa Cain said...

I think raising children to adulthood is a lot like writing a novel and getting it pubbed -- a HUGE job. On the other hand, writing short stories and getting them published is more like taking care of grandkids -- they're real cute and blessedly go home at the end of the visit. More fun, less time investment. Wishing you lots more short stories written and published!

T.F. Walsh said...

Completely agree... sometimes you've just got to let it go because otherwise you'll never think it's finished.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

I like your motherhood analogy. I'm not a parent, but I don't think I'd be a very good one. I feel I would make so many mistakes.

Michael Di Gesu said...

I agree... One needs to let GO at some point. Or leave it for a LONG, LONG time and go back to see if it's worth another go around....

But Im learning that a writer must move on and write something new, I am guilty of holding on for dear life my first two novels and they may or may not get published... but it can take years and TIMING is EVERYTHING! I learned that last month when a very unexpected illustration job landed on my lap....

A Beer For The Shower said...

I'm envious of your short story mastery. Those aren't instant gratification to me, simply because it's not very 'instant' to create them.

As for when the story is over, I think we've found a good balance between editing too little and turning the story into a plastic surgery nightmare by rewriting anything and everything out of sheer insecurity.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Every time I look at my story I can tweak it just a wee bit, change a word here a sentence there. I know my story is ready when I don't have major rewrites to do.

Michelle Wallace said...

Aside from the technicalities and the input from CP's/beta readers, I like to think that gut instinct plays a crucial role in knowing when the story is ready.

Deniz Bevan said...

Ooh, great analogy to raising kids. I like the idea of instant gratification; I've only written two short stories in the past couple of years, but I should maybe start exploring more of my story ideas as short stories...

J.H. Moncrieff said...

Great post, Dolorah! I love the analogy of raising children and writing books--it works.

Congrats on getting short stories published too. I feel the same way about journalism. The gratification of getting an article published in a short amount of time and receiving a pay cheque in return is very alluring.

Denise Covey said...

I really don't believe our stories are ever done. It's so hard not to keep fiddling, but that leads to nothing getting published. Urk!

Cherie Reich said...

We do have to get to a point where we either leap or tuck the story away and work on something else.

baili said...

i enjoyed my visit on your blog .interesting writing .
have a nice weekend

Jeffrey Scott said...

Great analogy to raising children. Those of us parents here, certainly understand what you mean. I suppose the same thing could be said whenever someone asks what your favourite piece is you've written. For me, it's whatever one I'm working on, because they are all my children.

Crystal Collier said...

I think that's my favorite answer in the whole hop--the when are you done raising your children? I don't compare my books to children, but we do carry those feelings of hope and worry long after they've left the nest, so maybe it is an apt description.

dolorah said...

Hey all; sorry I've been away all month, pretty much. Thanks for your comments; I hope I've returned a visit to everyone. If not, I'll catch up :)

Ellie Garratt said...

I could go on tweaking forever. I could go back to published stories and tweak them. Eventually we have to let go, even if our children come back to us or cause us the odd eye roll!