I kind of hate writing the last draft of a short story. By this point, I’ve gone over everything so many times I know exactly where everything falls, I’ve got a fussy little pile of characters who didn’t make the word count cut, gorgeous analogies that took up too much time and space, and at least two or three scenes that definitely happened at some indeterminate time but have no place in the completed whole.
This is the point that I begin referring to my stories as a pile of garbage or a gigantic mess.
I might be a little frazzled.
There are a couple of reasons for this.
- I finished an emotionally jarring book at about 1:00 a.m. Not advisable, but it happens to us all.
- I am writing soft sci-fi. I don’t even know why. I am a fantasy person to my core, and somehow the story wound up being both. There have been several moments in this process that I have become uncomfortably aware of my lack of knowledge of technology and that someone will almost certainly see it through all the flowery words.
- I naturally have very low writing self-esteem. To the point that I have personally totally rejected the “impostor syndrome” idea. I don’t have impostor syndrome. I am an impostor. That’s my identity, and I’m cool with it. Probably no amount of study, success, or awards will convince me otherwise.
- I’ve reached that awkward lurch between finishing a book and needing another one and finishing a short story and missing all the characters that have kept me awake at 2:00 a.m. at the same time. I’m a little scared now.
My one hope at this point is that I’m dead wrong. I’ve written stories I thought were disastrous and had them well received. I get so terribly fond of wandering around in the world I’ve created, of enjoyably arguing with my characters, that I sometimes lose track of whether it’s a really beautiful story or a really boring one.
My solution? Let the story go where it wants and take me along for the ride. Worry about whether it was good or not 3 months after I’ve submitted it. Otherwise I never write much of anything.
I’m not saying it’s a good solution. But if my characters tell me one thing over and over again, it’s that you don’t find dragons, get into trouble, and have adventures without making at least a few of your own mistakes.
So I’m off to make a few more of mine.
Wish me luck!