I am very much a creature of habit, so the pressure around the New Year to set and achieve lofty goals always feels like walking north through a southbound crush of people. As an example, I’ve got three short stories in various stages of completion. Last month, I gave myself a Jan. 20 deadline to complete them. I’ve finished one, I’ve got quite a ways to go on another, but the third is so, so close. Part of me wants to say, “Good enough,” and start submitting.
But here’s the rub: I know it’s not perfect.
I re-read it for the hundredth time, and I like it at the paragraph level. The writing is good, the verbs are crisp, the characters are complex and interesting, it’s a unique premise. It doesn’t need line edits or major structural changes. But there’s something that’s not quite there yet in terms of the narrative arc, and while I can articulate what it is, I can’t figure out how I want to change it to make it right. It’s the kind of thing that’s going to take some time to wrestle with.
This goes against my instinct as someone who likes to get things done. I’ve told my classes before that you can’t lie to yourself on the page. If you aren’t sure if something is good enough, you can bet readers, editors and publishers will be.
Why a January 20 deadline? Glad you asked. My next class at StoryStudio Chicago starts that day: Junk Drawer Workshop. It’s going to be quite timely, as it deals with perfecting those drafts that have been languishing in our desk drawers and hard drives. The ones that aren’t quite right.
I get the feeling that the struggle I’ve gone through on this story will be a valuable resource for this class.
One last thing: starting with our next show, I’m going to be co-hosting Fictlicious with Micki, and our next show is coming up fast. Jan. 10 is the Fictlicious Shitshow and features readings from GQ of Q Brothers fame, Maria Vorhis, Chelsea Voulgares and Mike Devens as well as Micki and I. Liam Davis is leading the musical portion with Diana Lawrence and Molly Callinan. Come join us at the Hideout on Jan. 10 at 7pm. $10 cover gets you in. It’s going to be filthy (and fantastic).