Thursday, July 01, 2004

Adventures in Editing

As part of my recent rededication to my creative writing craft, I've been thinking about submitting work for possible publication. I've sent pieces out before to be considered by various small literary magazines, but it's been a while. I haven't had anything published yet, and if it's ever going to happen I need to get back on the horse and start trying to get my work out there to be read.

To that end, yesterday I pulled out and dusted off a copy of one of my old stories. It's a piece I like a lot, and I think of it as being the most publication-worthy of anything I've written so far. I originally wrote it for a fiction workshop during my undergrad days, and I hadn't looked at it for quite a while.

Just opening it up and reading through it again was an interesting experience since it was originally written over four years ago. There were some parts through the beginning of the story that made me cringe, and I wondered how I had ever thought this piece was anywhere near worthy of being published. I almost quit reading, but I made myself go all the way through it. I'm glad I did. Granted, much of the middle of the story is bloated and probably mostly unnecessary, but overall the piece is good.

Granted, it needs some work. I've made some minor changes to it already, but I haven't yet touched the offending middle part that needs a severe overhaul. That may be my writing project for this evening, actually. I want to streamline it, to make sure that everything I include is absolutely relevant and it all flows well. This process may include just deleting a significant section from the middle and essentially rebuilding that part of the story, but that's fine if it's what I have to do. The rest of the story is good, and if I can tighten up the parts that aren't so good, then I can start submitting this story with confidence.

What pleased me the most about the whole experience was how quickly I regained a feel for the story, despite how long it had been since I had worked on it or even read it. I immediately remembered what it was I had been trying to do with the piece. Even better, I immediately saw ways that I could enhance my initial ideas, and some other minor changes I could make to bring out other elements.

I can't even express how great it felt to get started on editing this piece. By making just a few minor changes, I think I was really able to enhance the story and make it more focused. That will help me as I do the more major revisions, as I can keep in mind exactly where I need to go. I now have a better feel for what's necessary and what's not, and hopefully I'll be able to do some work on it this evening and come out with a tight piece of fiction.

All of this has really given me some confidence about where I am as a writer. As I mentioned the other day, I haven't been writing much fiction for a while, and I'm at least a little surprised that I slipped back into it so easily after being away. In that time, though, I've been reading more extensively than I ever have before (which is saying something), and doing other kinds of writing (such as this blog). I'm just glad to discover that these things have helped me to grow as a writer, and that I'm not just stagnating. Of course, nothing will help foster more growth like actually doing more writing, so that's my next step. For the first time in a while, I'm looking forward to it.

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