Picking up writing like an old habit.
Since I started in on the Write 1, Sub 1 mania two weeks ago, I’ve been writing more than I have in a long time. Emphasis on the long. Even so, I’m having trouble striking a balance between writing and submitting. I’d let several older stories lapse into computer folder fodder instead of sending them out consistently, so there’s an element of playing catch up involved. I also have several stories that I’d stopped working on halfway through or at first draft, so there’s that needing attention as well.
Anything I’ve written brand new in the past two weeks has not been submitted yet. They just aren’t done cooking. Not yet anyway. But I have plenty of submissions out from older works. Am I cheating? Is this allowed? Have I broken a vital rule of the W1S1 code? Will I be flogged for my disobedience? So many questions.
For those who are interested, however, here’s a brief rundown of my story submissions and writing status as of this moment:
- Fiction Submissions: 9
- Poem Submissions: 2
- Rejections: 2
- Revisions Required on Old Stories: 2
- Revisions Required on New stories: 3
- Drafts in Progress: 1
That’s pretty much it for now. How is your W1S1 venture going or just writing and submitting in general?
Last night, I dreamt I was a tarantula, crawling out of a pit and readying myself to feast. At least, that’s the story I’m going to tell about the dream.
The actually dream featured a tarantula, to be certain, but it lacked, oh what’s the word? Coherence! It lacked coherence, especially since said tarantula was floating on a lake, turned into a hot air balloon and got caught in a tree. Not exactly prize winning stuff there.
Dreams are funny little things. They make so much sense when you’re in the middle of them. Wrapped up in the blankets and puttering about in the subconscious makes for interesting stories. When you hit the moment that you’re aware of the dream, you swear to yourself that you’ll jot this down when you wake up. After all, it’s the perfectly encapsulated story, isn’t it? It has a beginning, middle and end and the vivid imagery! You can’t forget the vivid imagery.
However, as the fog of sleep thins, the details start to disassemble. Point A no longer leads to Point B. The middle drops out and well, maybe there wasn’t ever a story to begin with.
Rather than using literal dictations of dreams, I like using dreams as inspiration for fiction. It doesn’t happen all the time, but every once in a while I’ll wake up with an image in my mind and that transforms into a full-fledged story at some point. The story may have nothing to do with the image itself, but it acts as the trigger to get the creative juices flowing. Like a prompt, only it came from my brain and not a blog or forum.
What’s a weird dream you’ve had lately? Ever write a story based on a dream? If so, how did it turn out?
This is a question I ask myself on a near daily basis. After all, there’s some external metric by which you can measure your story for completeness and determine whether or not its submission ready, right? Right?!?
Sharpen those pencils and just write!
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. at least, it hasn’t been the case for me. In fact, I seem to be utterly clueless as to when a story has received all of the love and attention from revision it requires to be submitted. I either don’t polish enough and leave rough bits and craggy phrases exposed for the world to see or I polish too much and buff the life right out the words. Sigh. It’s a delicate balance that I’ve yet to master.
I wish there was a shortcut. A buzzer that sounds when you’ve revised just enough and edited just enough. An alarm that wails when you’re plugging away at a story that just. doesn’t. work. so you quit wasting your time and move on already would be nice, too.
If I’ve learned one thing from this writing thing it’s that there are no external metrics. Your stories are your stories. They’re finished when you say they’re finished. Besides understanding the fundamentals of grammar and sentence structure and genre tropes, you’re on your own. All you can hope for is that what you consider a completed and well-written story matches up with the views of an editor.
I haven’t really answered the question in the title here, but I guess that’s the point. A story is done when you say it is. Now if only I heeded my own advice.
I’d love to hear your views on this subject. How do you determine when a story is completed? Countless revisions? Several positive critiques? What pushes you to feel comfortable sending that story out into the world?
So I recently found out about a little thing called Write 1 Sub 1 or W1S1 for short. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Your task, should you take on the challenge, is to write one story and submit one story within a time frame you choose (weekly, biweekly, monthly, etc). I don’t know how closely I’ll be able to hold fast to this, but it’s a good motivator nonetheless and if the main blog where this all started isn’t enough motivation, there’s also an excellent (and very encouraging) community over at Absolute Write should you decide to join in the fray.
What I like most about this challenge is it’s helping me focus. I’ve written several stories that never ended up on submission because I felt they weren’t “there.” As I revisit them now, a tweak here and revision there is all they really needed. Perspective. I need more of it.
While some people can put pen to paper without external motivators, I find writing communities, contests, prompts and groups of people to hold you accountable extremely motivating. Presumably, you’re all in the same boat together, which is great when all you need is a little commiseration.
Since joining in on the fun, I have 4 older stories out on sub and I’ve written 3 new drafts. I likely won’t be able to keep up this pace, but I’m taking advantage of it now.
I’m off to write. Or edit. Or do something productive in the way of words. What are you working on right now? What writing groups, contests or challenges have you found motivating? Let me know in the comments!