That New Story Smell
I recently finished a short story, one I really like. After letting my critique partners work it over, I revised the piece, shaved off 500 words, and now I’ll start submitting it. What I want to talk about in this post is the wonderful, exhilarating experience of completing a new story and sending it out on it’s first submission. Let’s dive in.
I like lists. Maybe you’ve noticed. So here are three things I love about finishing a new story.
- The best thing I’ve ever written. This isn’t always true, of course, but often when I finish a new story I feel like I’ve grown as a writer, if only a little. It might just be the bright, shiny allure of NEW THING that makes me feel this way, or in the case of this particular story, it might be I pushed myself, tried something new, and as scary as it was, I did it (and I think it worked). That feeling of accomplishing something new is pretty sweet.
- Limitless potential. A new story has a blank slate. It hasn’t been rejected yet, and, at least for me, it’s the best I can make it without additional objective feedback. You know, the kind that comes from editors in the form of rejections. I almost always start at the top when I submit a new piece. I send it to all those dream, bucket-list publishers, and, yeah, I might even imagine how awesome it would be to place a story there. I don’t spend too long on fantasy island, though. Cracking those top markets is tough, and you have to be pragmatic about these things. Still, a new story lets you dream a little, and that’s a good thing.
- Sweet validation. One thing that makes me feel like a real, honest-to-god writer is finishing something, be it a short story, a novel or, hell, even a blog post. The knowledge that I can get an idea, execute that idea, and produce something that is (hopefully) of publishable quality is a great confidence booster. Never mind the dozen half-finished stories collecting dust on my hard drive, this time I did it. This time I overcame the fear and doubt, pushed through, and made a new thing. I’ll bask in that glow until the first rejections arrives. 🙂
So that’s a bit about how I feel when I complete a new story. How do you feel when you finish a piece? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.