But At Times I Am Forced To By Circumstances…
I write stories, one draft, cycling, and finished. For fiction, I have a person go over it to find typos. Kris reads it to help with the typos. I never look at a story again.
Now I have published well over 400 short stories (a number of them from my early years and because they were horror, they no longer fit what I am doing, so I have never republished them.) But most I have put through Smith’s Monthly and then indie published. A bunch have been in anthologies I have never republished in Smith’s Monthly as well. Someday I will.
No chance on the planet that I can remember even a slight number of those. And this week I have been putting the next issue of Smith’s Monthly together and picking out four original stories to put in it that I wrote last spring. So forced to look back at the unpublished original stories and weirdly enough, I find them better than my memory remembers, and that is just from the hundred or so I wrote last spring. I find that interesting, that my mind and memory automatically downgrades a story when I finish it. Luckily I know I am the worst judge of my own work and just ignore that downgrading.
For some reason this week, I have been asked five different times, in different ways, if a person should go back and fix a story because of something I said or some editor feedback or in one case a workshop feedback. I just shuddered on all five.
Shows two things: Writer does not trust their own art.
Two… The story is “important.” (Mostly because of the time spent writing it.)
Both are deadly.
You never learn by turning around and going backwards. Learning in writing is practice, working on the next new story and applying the knowledge your creative voice has gained from the last stories. You never learn anything by letting your critical voice win and go back. In fact, it trains the creative voice that you don’t trust it and if you do that enough, the creative voice doesn’t show up anymore.
So four original stories will be in the next issue of Smith’s Monthly, just as in most issues. (Sometimes there is five.) And I had to look at them again (not read them, just look at enough to remember them) and my mind has now upgraded them to “not bad.” And that’s as good for me that any of my stories ever get. But again, what do I know? I am the worst judge of my own work.
And I would never, ever rewrite any of them or even bother to read them again. Why? I trust my own art and voice and skills. And second, why would I waste the time to touch a story and make it worse? I could write a new story in the same amount of time.