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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

When You Write Something Really Good

If you've ever had the experience our friend, Snoopy, is talking about, you're a fortunate writer. We write and we write and we write over the years. Sometimes we're satisfied with the result but other times we squirm a bit because we know what came forth was not the best. 

I've looked at old pieces I've written when trying to decide what to submit for a contest and discarded quite a few. Why? Because I know it is not my best writing, it is not high quality that will outshine other entries. Maybe my effort was lackadaisical. So, why pay a submission fee and send it? Instead, I set it aside with the thought of revising it someday. That someday often takes a long time, however.

The ones that excite me--those I consider good writing--are usually submitted for publication soon after they are complete, meaning that they have simmered awhile and have gone through revision and editing. They're the ones I'm eager to send out because, in my heart, I know they have a good chance of being published. 

As for the contest entries, I don't send only old pieces in my files. I often write something new with the theme and/or guidelines of the contest in mind. Just recently, I found a new anthology I wanted to submit to. I read the guidelines and gave it some thought for a few days. I decided to write about a difficult time in my life. I wrote the personal essay over several days and ended up with a nearly 2000 word story. I felt good about the way it had turned out. I was excited that maybe this story might help someone else in a similar situation. I went back to the call for submissions page and reread the guidelines. Guess what? My story did not fit. I had strayed too far from what the editor was seeking. Even so, I have a new story written, revised and edited that I can submit somewhere else. So, all was not lost.

When I read those guidelines originally, I apparently skipped right through a crucial element. It's why I always suggest here on the blog that you not only read the guidelines carefully. Study them! That's what I tell others to do. Time I took my own advice, isn't it? 

I once wrote a fiction short story for a contest trying to write to their theme. I wrote to the theme alright but the story was pretty darned awful. I was racing to make a deadline and this was the only idea that had come to me. Another time I had not taken my own advice. Don't wait until it is close to the deadline to begin. 

You have definitely derived from the above that I am a human being, not a robot trying to give you tips on writing and encouraging you in your writing life. I'm not perfect and I doubt that any of you are either. We hit bumps in our writing journey and sometimes we even fall flat on our face. What's a writer to do? Stand up, dust yourself off and keep moving. Whatever you've done wrong can be corrected or something new started around the next curve in your journey. 

But do get excited when you've written something you know is good. Don't put it away and do nothing with it. Send it out into the vast writing world until it lands somewhere for publication. Take some time to evaluate that good piece of writing. Determine why you felt it was good. What did you do to make it shine? 

When you know you've written something really good, pat yourself on the back. It doesn't happen day after day. Revel in the times that it does!

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