Sometimes the words sing. Sometimes they fly out of my fingers and into the word processor. Worlds are created from nothing. Characters dance. Stories, not just simple plots, but stories weave together.
And sometimes I am a lump.
This last week I submitted a story for consideration in an anthology. I had struggled over that story. I had a basic idea for a premise, but hadn’t gotten much farther than that. I wrote something short and threw it out. The characters were going a certain direction but were piddling about in a way I didn’t like. I had to get the story moving. Better to start over and trash what work I’d already done.
(Well, really not – I don’t throw out anything. Every revision of every story I work on is saved so I can always go back if I feel the need to.)
Second attempt. Threw that one out, too. I saw that though the premise was still strong, this particular telling was not. The call for submission wanted more concentration on the philosophical implications of a science fiction setting, not something that focused on the characters. Back to the drawing board.
Third time I finally got something that matched the call for submission. Doesn’t mean the story will be bought; there’s a lot of things that might cause it to be rejected. And honestly, this kind of story isn’t my strong suit. But hey, it’s good to challenge yourself, right?
Why am I sharing this?
At this point, when I’m able to write, I write a fair amount. I’m selling stories often enough that I feel like I know what I’m doing. When there’s a call for submission, I can usually determine fairly quickly whether or not I can develop a story for it (or have a story in my inventory I can send in).
But not all the time.
Sometimes the stories fight back. Sometimes what I write just ain’t good enough. And sometimes I’m simply not content and want to do something better.
My creative muscles are generally in good shape. I can construct stories and characters fairly quickly. But even then, I need to rewrite and rewrite – and not a simple little fix, but a complete overhaul.
So if you’re writing and something isn’t working… it’s ok. Go back. Rework. Change. Flip the story upside down. Start over a paragraph or a section or a chapter. Or the whole thing even.
Head back to the drawing board. Create something better.