I have a short story ready to submit. Isn’t that great?
I have never gotten a piece this long (5,000 words) ready for publication before so I thought I would share the process with you.
I originally wrote this short story for a local community college class assignment years ago when I was still working full-time. This class was “time out of time” and I loved every second of it!
A couple of years ago, a writing friend asked me if I had any stories already written. I remembered this one and pulled it out. I reread it and I was amazed at a) the crappy writing, and b) the complete story arc (I did that!) Focusing on what worked in the story, I started working on it again. And then again.
A few rewrites later, I submitted it to an online critique group and then put it away again.
This January, I decided this was the year—plus my friend said she’d beat me bloody if I didn’t submit the story already (I had said I’d do last year!) Isn’t it great to have supportive friends?
I brought the story to my critique group, and rewrote it again. Then I submitted a short scene that was giving me trouble (I can see it my head, but can my readers?) to an online chat. The critique was in some ways bizarre (how did they jump to the conclusion that one of my characters was a lesbian from the dialogue: “I do not date?”) but in other ways very helpful (I did not need the level of detail I originally wrote to show how two people were sitting). I rewrote the scene, making it tighter and (hopefully) crystal clear.
Reading the story out loud to myself was painful, but necessary. I caught a lot of little words that made the dialogue sound stilted to my ear.
I gave the story to some friends to read. One gave me great “big picture” feedback. I had asked her to tell me if there was any place in the story that was confusing or didn’t make sense. She told me that never happened. Phew! Two other friends read it and said it was good. Not as helpful but reassuring, nonetheless.
One last edit to make sure the word count met the limit, and then I brought the story to my critique group one more time. No suggested changes. Cool.
I could keep tinkering with the story, but at this point I think I would be making it worse rather than better.
So, here’s what I’m going to do—today:
- Send my story (my baby, my heart) into the world.
- Let go of any attachment to how it will be received. (That’s not my business.)
- Start a new story.
What are you getting ready to send into the world?
Diane MacKinnon, MD, is currently a full-time mother, part-time life coach. She is a Master Certifiied Life Coach, trained by Martha Beck, among others. She is passionate about her son, her writing and using her mind to create a wonderful present moment. Find her life coaching blog at http://www.dianemackinnon.com/blog.