When it all works out

Recently I have been editing one of my short stories for an upcoming Ambage anthology*. And frankly, I haven’t been enjoying it that much. The story is seriously flawed in a number of areas and it has taken a good deal of thinking and fiddling on my part to sort them all out (and even then, I am under the distinct impression that I am missing something important).

When I find myself working on stories like this one, it is intensely frustrating. I change a word, perhaps rephrase an awkward sentence, but I know that none of that helps in any but the most superficial of ways. I rewrite whole scenes, sometimes even the entire story, and it still doesn’t feel right. It’s frustrating enough that I just want to print it out and let my dog tear it to shreds.

Of course, I know better than to do that. I’ve written frustrating stories before and I know that tossing them out is rarely necessary. All they need is time and patience on my part. As long as I stick to it, I know that sooner or later, I will reach that moment when everything makes sense, that moment when I finally understand just what this story is really about.

I don’t have a name for such moments, mostly because it hasn’t been necessary to name them. Yet these moments of clarity are an important aspect of my own writing style. They’re a bit like a flash of lightning on a dark night. Though they last only a moment, it is long enough for me to know exactly what I need to do next.

I am happy to say that I have reached such a moment yesterday morning while working on this short story. There are still problems to fix, of course, but it will be a lot easier and more fun now, I think, because I know what I need to do.

This is what I love about writing. When a frustrating story finally works out like this, it makes the entire thing worth it.

*I will be talking more about this anthology later, probably sometime next month. Stay tuned until then.

-Tim

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