Thursday, September 23, 2010

Works Not in Progress Thursday

I can't seem to finish a story.

Oh, I've been writing them, but each disappoints in the end. I'm sure there's a few possible reasons for this:
  1. I've forgotten how to write.
  2. I'm more critical of my work now.
  3. I'm more critical of venues to which I'll send my work.
On #1...I hope this isn't true. I still "get" it. The words are still there. I keep scribbling little notes, typing sentences, developing characters, putting them in unfortunate situations....

So maybe it's #2. I like some of what I've written lately, but I don't love it. I should love it, right?

And I know #3 is part of the equation. In the beginning, I was happy to have a "yes" from anyone. I'm just not there any more. Pay and prestige aren't the only deciding factors--I want to send something that is a fit for the magazine/anthology/etc. With more experience, I find the list of possible markets for any particular story grow smaller (and smaller).

So, yeah. Working. Writing words. I suspect I need some dedicated editing and revision time...

I've been reading, too, and falling in love with much of what Kelly Link writes. If you're unfamiliar with her work, "The Specialist's Hat" is a good place to start. Don't be surprised if you finish the story with more questions than answers.

(By the way..."Black Medicine Thunder and the Sons of Chaos" finishes this week at Red Penny Papers)

18 comments:

shadowflame1974 said...

Do you have anyone else reading your work and bouncing an idea off of? That sometimes helps a lot.

Otherwise I do not think #1 is probable.

Option #2 and option #3 are your problems.

Maybe go get a rubber chicken, chase kids around the park and have fun with your writing again?

I'll look up Kelly Link. Always looking for more to read.

Daniel W. Powell said...

Hi Aaron,

I can sympathize. I'm no great shakes for sales or exposure, but I'm starting to expect more of myself and I'm holding myself to different standards. The shrinking pool of venues means an overstuffed file folder on the desktop. That said, I think they'll all find a home at some point.

At least, I hope they do. Just keep writing, and keep working on those conclusions. I think the best stories stay with the reader because they end well...

Barry Napier said...

I know the feeling...it's almost like all the other ideas I had just got lazy when I finished my novel earlier this month. Boo!

Aaron Polson said...

Shadow - Rubber chickens are good. I'll look into that option...

Daniel - I hope the best of 'em can find homes. Some of mine should probably stay in that desktop folder...

Barry - Boo, indeed.

K.C. Shaw said...

#1 is not possible for you, so you can just strike it off your list. I suspect a bit of #2, and maybe some end-of-summer doldrums.

onipar... said...

I'm feeling the same way lately. I started this year off real strong, writing (and editing) a story per month or so.

Now, not so much.

And I totally agree on your feelings about markets to send work to.

Aaron Polson said...

K.C. - I can usually count on the start of fall spookiness to chase the end of summer doldrums...but you're probably right.

Tony - We're finicky, aren't we?

Andrea Allison said...

I always seem to get this "eh" feeling around this time of the year. Maybe you're in the same boat?

Milo James Fowler said...

My advice, whether you want it or not: Take a little break -- just for a bit. Do something entirely different, then return with a fresher outlook.

katey said...

I get to that point sometimes, at least with short fiction. With novels I just shove through to the end, but short fiction, I'm a lot more--I don't know. Finicky? I'll give up easily if it doesn't come out in a day or two, and I'll recycle the idea later when I think of a way to keep myself interested.

Maybe it's one of those things. For me, I think it might be all three :/

Aaron Polson said...

Andrea - It's one of those boats which gets crowded, I'm sure.

Milo - Good advice, really. I'm taking the weekend off. ;)

Katey - Never.

K.Hinny said...

Aaron, I think we all go through those little hills and valleys. Take heart and heed, it's only transitional. You are an amazing writer and there is no way you've lost "it" those bugs are harder to lose than a belly button, my friend. Keep plugging away (and I know you will anyway) set those other ones aside and come back to them in a few days, months, whenever the call snags ya! The endings will be there for you, waiting :)

Samantha said...

kelly link is wonderful. shes one of those writers who i always forget just how many of the stories i read in the past that i liked were writen by her. if that statement makes any sense.

love the hortlak. don't reread it often bc of the whole animal shelter/dead dog beginning. also love some zombie contingency plans.

Aaron Polson said...

Kara - I know they will. Thanks for the encouragement.

Samantha - I have Magic for Beginners on order...I'm going straight for "The Hortlak". ;)

Danielle Ferries said...

I think you're just starting to expect more from yourself which is good on the one hand and downright frustrating on the other. Taking it up to the next level is a good thing, right?

Natalie L. Sin said...

My vote is for 2 and 3. Its also my problem lately. I wrote a story that just...eh. A year ago, I would have sent it out. Now I'm going to shred it.

craighallam said...

Hi Aaron. I'm definately in the same place at the minute. Got about 5 short stories I keep picking at but I never seem to finish them.
I posted my thoghts on option #3 on my blog the other day too! It must be a common problem. If and when I do finish a story, you just want the best possible home for it. It's like when your kid leaves home! hahaha

Hope you get the mojo back soon!

Cate Gardner said...

I echo one through three. Oh, and I need to check out Kelly Link's stories.