Weclome to my end-of-experience ramble. 😅
I really loved free-styling last year’s WIM. I waffled about signing up because I was sure that if I did the official thing, nothing would work any more. In the end I did it anyway. (I argued that I could still drop out if I couldn’t whip up a shitass story in the first week.)
I already needed help from a friend (Thanks Erin Fulmer 😊) signing up. Might have been a sign. Almost missed the prompt too.
I like the picture, don’t get me wrong. But last year, I took one look at the prompt and the story flowed out of my veins like liquid smoke. This year – not so much. I was work. I stared at that winter landscape and didn’t know what to do with it.
The first thing that came to me was the feeling of being cast immovable over the ocean, hanging in the sky frozen with this view. Nest step was thinking what could get you into that situation. And then my general, undirected anger with the obsession with protagonist’s agency kicked in.
I cobbled together something that might pass for a story. If you squint. With a lot of goodwill. The first draft ended up feeling like a short version of my current novel WIP. (Though is is definitely not. It’s just a brainsoup thing.)
The first draft ended up about 200 words too long. I also did some soft editing while stitching the pieces together. Well, almost together. I left a gap I didn’t care for and just put a scene changer in there. 🤷
Self-editing now. Where do I even start. I hate editing. I hate it with a passion. Short stories are especially difficult for me because when I write them down and get to finish them, usually I think they’re really neat already.
This time was no different. I like how it came out and dig the prose. Some polishing, sure, but big changes? I don’t see it.
That’s also why I signed up because if I can’t see where the story need editing, maybe somebody else can?
I did what I thought necessary and helpful and sent to my CP. Asked for help cutting stuff. I’ll see how it goes. Ngl, I am worried about the editor round because I don’t know if I can cut 200 words and still love the story. And I’d rather have a story I love than a pass with an editor.
The edits of my CP were stuck in the outbox so I got them a little later than I would have liked. Unsurprising to anybody but me (again) it was not a detailed take-down of how the story is trash and I should find something else to do with my time. 🤷
Some of the feedback was surprising. Mostly in a prolly takes one to know one or target audience kind. Others was not. I knew I could save up on A Lot of words if I cut down my pretty prose. Some of it showed that what I wanted to do worked – my CP just didn’t know what to do with it.
I’m a little sorry because I am currently ranting against prescriptive writing advice and publishing wisdom in my shorts. The Power Of is basically me giving the finger to the idea that a protagonist needs to have agency. The protag does shit nothing in the story.
I thought about all the questions. I like getting questions as feedback because it makes me think about what I want to achieve with my words and if it is working acceptably. Took some of the suggestions. Called stet on others. Didn’t cut many words.
Accordingly, I agonised about the length of my story and the edit looming on the horizon. The choice I had was to send a story that was too long and not get an editing eye on it. Or to cut it down into 1k which I didn’t care if it rolled into Satan’s asscrack.
Being nd doesn’t help. I have a thing about rules. I like them if they are clear and consistent and easy to understand. I understand when I do not follow. And I am ready to accept the consequences. I could not – could not – send a thousand words I care nothing about to my assigned editor.
I explained myself and sent my too long story with little hope.
I started off this part by dying. You can kill me with the smallest bit of kindness. I don’t expect it, I’ll never see it coming and it will always knock me over. So getting the edit anyways did just fine.
Unsurprising to anybody but me (again) it was also not a detailed take-down of how the story is trash and I should find something else to do with my time.
Not sure how fun it is to find out the noun you were certain is a noun isn’t really a noun after all. 😬 Thanks for nothing Marilyn Manson. OK, I looked it up and it seems to be a noun after all. Maybe not a terribly common one. Anyway, stet. 😅
One of my writing quirks seems to be the casual use of “you” constructions out of the blue. Not sure where that will lead me but since this is a thing that’s followed me for years now I will look into it. One day that will be its own blog post, I guess.
Also not sure if the number of times I called a stet on the editor suggestions bodes well for my tradpub future. I understand where the changes come from. I get it. On the other hand, I have chosen the words and punctuation carefully. Does it read like a slightly disjointed, unrelated staccato? Yes, yes it does. I actually meant to do that.
It feels a little like moving the “only” around in “She believed him” and thinking any position would do the same thing. Even if they are all perfectly fine. Moments like that I have to take deep breaths and remember that this is my story and my vision. Yes, it can be made more palatable. Yes, it can be streamlined. But I wouldn’t think of editing the nose off Barbara Streisand either.
Overall, I really need to learn to trust my process more. I need believe my inner voice when it tells me something is fine (for a first draft), it’s FINE.
The story didn’t change much. I thought about the feedback. I have made changes based on it, even if sometimes those went a completely different direction than suggested. I leant hard into poetic language in this story and I understand that that doesn’t always work with common grammar. Common grammar is a sacrifice I am willing to make. 😅
And something I need to learn even more, something I need to lean into hard, is that I am writing for my own pleasure first and foremost. I am old and I am stubborn. I know what I like and since I rarely get it served in the writing world, I’ll create my own.
And that’s where it may stop. My own. For me and maybe a couple of people who get to see it in the process. And that’s okay. Because I still have it to make me happy. Maybe someday somebody else in a relevant position will get it and lets me show it to the world. Hope dies last.
Anyway, see you next year for WIM. 😄