I was asked to submit a story to an anthology and I was flattered. That is until the panic kicked in. There were no genre, subject, or style requirements, but there was a tight deadline and minimum/maximum word counts. Most of my short stories fall short—under the required minimum of 5000 words. Most, but not all of them, so I decided to resurrect a story I wrote in 2013. That’s where copyediting, deeper editing, and re-writing came into the picture.
Re-working an existing manuscript is writing.
It doesn’t feel like writing, but it’s an essential part of the process. The dialog needed to be sharper. Extraneous descriptive text had to be cut. One of the characters had to move forward in prominence and another had to take a small step back. It was an interesting and satisfying process.
I read the story out loud—twice to myself and once to a friend—before I dug into it with nips & tucks. At one point, I thought I might simply re-write the story. 2013 is not long ago, but I’m a different writer now and would have written the story from a different angle. I might have made the protagonist older and I might have started it at a different point of the action.
Still, with a deadline looming and the desire to get it done, I opted to re-write and get it in before it was due.
Spending time with my old self—the self that wrote the story—was an adventure. I wrote it the summer before my father died. It feels like a lifetime ago. That summer, I spent a great deal of time on the roof of my building reading rambling novels infused with fantasy & magic in semi-real historical settings.
The family in the short story and my own family have little in common except the essential connections that make a family real—the desire to do what is right for each other and the ability to set priorities that put someone else at the top of the list. I was outside and inside my own story as I wrote it—just where a writer must be located.
We’ll see how things go with this anthology. I promise to keep you posted!