How The Hell To Do This, Part The Sixth: Submit!
So this is neither a regular series anymore, nor is it happening on Mondays. I’m keeping the title around because I like alliteration, but if there’s one thing that’s made itself abundantly clear over the last semester, it’s that regular blogging is much harder for me than regular story-writing.
Nevertheless, here’s this installment: for when you’ve written and beta’d and edited and written and edited and written some more, and you have something that you’re really happy with.
So now you send it out.
And yet I get the sense that a lot of people struggle with this part. Which makes total sense – before, the people reading your stuff have probably just been you and some people you at least know sort of well. Now you’re sending your little story that you love and worked so hard on out to people who don’t know you at all. And they’ll look at it, and you know that it’s likely that they won’t want it. That they’ll reject it.
Buddy, that hurts.
How The Hell To Do This, Part The Fifth: Edit Like An Asshole.
A word about the title of these: I realize that it might read sort of obnoxious, like I think that this is the the definitive way to be a writer and to publish. Let me be clear about this: I don’t think that, nor am I claiming it. I think there are some broad conventions that are likely to work across different people and working styles, as well as techniques that might be more likely to yield good results than others. But this is only what’s worked for me, and what I’ve done. It might not work for you. It might be bad advice for you. So I make no claim to authority here outside my own experience. The wording of the title itself is meant to convey impatience and exasperation toward the craft/process itself, which is frankly how I feel about writing a lot of the time.
That clarified, this week: editing.
I’ve written a lot around and about the process of editing, but not much that deals directly with what the process looks like, for me. This is mostly because, for me, the process is still very much in the middle of being hammered out, and it changes all the time. Of all the elements of writing that I deal with, editing is probably the one on which I still need to do the most work – which sucks, because it’s sort of really really important.
Me, I’m impatient (see above). I’m also blessed with the ability to write first drafts that often don’t need drastic tweaking before they’re at least okay. But because I don’t usually see the need for massive tweaking, and because I’m impatient and I have an itchy submission finger (more about this next week), I tend to overlook the need for more subtle polishing, and I sometimes send things out before they’re really ready – before they really are about as good as they can be.
In that vein, some things I’ve learned, most of which I’m sure are familiar to you:
How The Hell To Do This, Part The Fourth: Let It Suck
This is something else I’ve written about before. It tends to be more of an issue with longer pieces for me, because those are the points at which stamina really comes into play (people who compare writing novels to running marathons are not kidding in the slightest, nor are they overstating the point, though again, everyone is different). But I think it’s the kind of thing that has the potential to be a problem for anyone, at any point.
Here’s what I’m talking about: there is going to come a time – and probably this time will come semi-frequently – where you’re not blocked, but nothing you write seems good and you’re sure that it all sucks. This is naturally going to make you want to stop writing, because writing sucktastic stuff is no fun, even if no one else ever sees it. It’s embarrassing and it feels like a slogging waste of time.
This is a trap. Don’t fall for it.