Thursday, May 19, 2011

Learning my lessons

Last week I learned an important lesson for writers:  Deadlines are good.

I worked feverishly to finish the story I was planning to submit for an anthology.  I had a schedule in my head, and had given myself an entire work-week (five days) to complete it.  Lo and behold, life interfered and two of those days were shot.  However, in the past I would have said "Oh, well" and given up on it.  But this time I was determined to sprint for the finish line.  And amazingly, after a good chunk of writing (about 2,000 words in four hours) I did it!  And even though the story was promptly rejected, it didn't matter.  What mattered was that I set myself a deadline and stuck with it.  This is a huge step for me.

The rejection was a blow, to be sure.  I was really hoping to get accepted.  The letter (email) was short and sweet.  The editor stated that the story was "perfectly good" and encouraged me to submit it elsewhere.  Now, my cynical side says "canned response."  But my optimist side (which is stronger) says that it was an honest, albeit brief, assessment.  And I am choosing to go with that.  I know the story isn't perfect.  It is a first draft, and I'm sure there are areas that could use improvement.  So, I am going to step away from it, work on something else, and then go back and polish it up.  Once that's done, I will begin the process of shopping it around.  Or, I may set it aside and save it for the anthology eBook my friends are working on, since it takes place in that world.

So, taking that lesson, I am imposing a deadline for my Orc story of next Friday, 5/27.  I was going to say tomorrow, but my daughter is coming home for the Summer after being away for almost a year.  So, I may be a little too distracted to write coherently for a couple of days.  However, I do plan to put some effort into the story today, during my downtime.  And since it's already 2/3 done, I expect to come close.

Ok, deadlines are one lesson I have to learn.  I know there are several others (outlining, "show don't tell", and working schedules come to mind).  But I figure if I can get one lesson learned at a time, eventually it will all come together and I can live the dream.


Charles Gramlich said...

For things that have a deadline, I impose one on myself that is about 10 days early so I can let the thing set for a bit before the final sprucing up. I haven't started my orc story yet but I will pretty soon.

bowiefan said...

So how do we successfully apply this to our cleaning habits...since we had a deadline and well, you know how that went.