Wednesday, February 24, 2016

In Which the Struggle is Real, but Infinitely Worthwhile

Once upon a time (in April of 2014, to be exact), I wrote a story that I knew in my bones was good. I was feeling the characters, the dialogue was flowing like coffee in Starbucks during rush hour, and I was still grooving enough on the last Patricia McKillip book I’d read to find flinging out pretty descriptions to be relatively easy. However, by the time I finished it about a month and a half later, I also knew with the deepest, most unshakable certainty that I had gotten the ending completely freaking wrong.

I edited it and I stared at it. I edited it some more, and sent it off to beta readers. While they were reading it, I stared at it again, making half-hearted tweaks. Finally, when not even the most brilliant beta in the pool could diagnose the source of the suckage I sensed, I stuck the damn story in a drawer and flounced off to work on something else. After about five months, it began to seem more and more likely that this story was doomed to molder away in the graveyard file until it was nothing but the bones of a good idea buried under a mountain of angst and regret.

Still, there was something in that story I just couldn’t give up on. One November evening, I steeled myself enough to take the story out and tinker with it again. I reread it, and I started to remember why I loved the story in the first place. The wariness and the doubt melted away, and suddenly, the ending came crashing down on my hapless brain in a tidal wave of plot. I didn’t just know it, I saw it, unfurling like a movie in my head in full color, surround sound, rock-your-face-off detail. It took one hour to dash off the ending. One hour, after being stuck for almost half a year. When I sent it to my most trusted beta reader, the reply I got back could be summed up as “Wow.” I knew in my heart that I’d finally gotten it right this time. The ending rang true, the plot flowed naturally, and the story was exactly what I needed it to be.

Fast-forward a year and three months later, and it turns out that it works for someone else, too. Or at least so I assume, because someone offered to buy it. That’s right, my little story that could, “The Fisherman and the Golem,” is going to be published this summer in an anthology called SIRENS which will be edited by Rhonda Parrish and published by World Weaver Press. It is the perfect ending to the epic saga that began when I sat down to write so long ago in April in a world where perfect endings are often elusive. Trust me, I know.  ;)

Now, for no good reason, allow me to end this post with a picture of my dog and his new guard dog sign.