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I Submit! - Sudden Write Turn Freelance Writing

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I Submit!

For the past week, I have gone through a wrenching process.  One where I mutter and sigh the whole time.  I’ve been editing.  It is rather like a long-overdue closet cleaning – discarding old, faded clothes that may feel comfortable, but I know should be cleared out.  The story I wrote so long ago and told you about here has had a makeover.

Re-reading it around Thanksgiving, I thought, Hey, this is pretty good!  But even if it looked great on you a decade ago (and still fits), that’s no reason to wear an old dress. So before I send my story out into the world I had to do some serious editing.

BrownEyedMystic, one of my blogosphere heroes in another hemisphere, happens to offer her critiquing skills, gratis.  When my story came back a week later, notated with 23 comments and 36 separate edits (badly needed), it was like a week with Stacy & Clinton; my story needed to trash the dated garments, wipe off the blue eye shadow, and restyle the ‘do.

It was easy to use the holidays as an excuse to avoid the task for two weeks: preparing for Christmas, celebrating Christmas, recovering from Christmas, reclaiming my house from Christmas, oh, and then New Year’s.  As my free week between the holidays ticked off one, then two days, I knew it was time.

Much to my surprise, taking the criticism was the easy part.  Actually following through on editing was hell. Each suggested edit was another article of the old familiar wardrobe getting chucked into the trash can. You want to cry at the insult of the rejection of something so beloved, no matter how truly horrid it may be. An old habit of switching tenses (bad for readers) has to be eradicated like a collection of ubiquitous black t-shirts.  Then there is my “wordiness” – it is the atrociously Bedazzler-ed blazers, the trove of thrift shop scarves, and the absurd red platform shoes. It’s true — I love adverbs and adjectives (can’t you tell?)

After the requisite good cry (okay, not really, but we’re at that point of the transformation), I begin to see the story beneath the story.  It becomes easier to delete words, then whole sentences.  Finding that one perfect adjective to stand alone is exquisite. Like retaining the “flair” that is yours but leaving behind the hot mess, my story is the same but so much better.

Word Stampede is now approximately 650 words shorter (this whole post is about 700 words). The tense is consistent.  A word that I previously use in 13 places has been cut down to just one instance.  In a few places I leave suggested edits untouched, because I’m the author that’s the way my character thinks.

Once I get the hang of editing, there is no shortage of parts I want to refine.  But if every time I read through “for the last time” and find another raft of edits, how will I know when it’s done? This is nail-biting….

The new outfits have been modeled, the hair and makeup have been brought into the current century, but this has all been within the safe embraces of the makeover artists.  You want me to go out into the world now, all by myself??

It is time to print out Word Stampede in all of its double-spaced glory (why is it so hard to just press print?!) I am submitting to an independent American magazine, The Sun, where I have read deeply compelling essays, interviews and fiction pieces.  It seems like the right place for my story.  If they’ll have me.

The outcome of this experience will have to be delayed to a future post – it will be 3-6 months minimum before I can expect my SASE to journey back to my mailbox.  However the response reads really won’t matter – if it is a rejection letter, as a writer I will be in good company.  At least I followed through and am finally dipping a toe into the pool of publishing.  I’m already glad I did it.

NEXT WEEK:  Letterpress Workshop!

Disclaimer – I have never worn a Bedazzler-ed anything, I do have taste and can for the most part assemble a decent outfit. Thanks to quality time spent watching Stacy and Clinton.

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  1. Terra, you will know it’s finished when it meets your criteria. Be subjectively objective. List what you want out of the article. Then prioritize the list items. You have already covered your eyes and jumped in asking for a critique. If the number one goal is commercial success (ka-ching ka-ching), you will benefit from the contructive comments of others who write commercially. If number one is touching someone’s heart with your words, it may already be finished. By the way, did you know I am published and currently am an editor? 😉 I’d love to read it…….

    • It is a joy just to toy with the phrasing, and in that sense, it may be done. Since I went into this experience with no expectations, commercial success is not on the radar (but it would be nice). I learn by doing, which can result in hard lessons. And, I DO know that you are an editor, but figure it’s better to wait for someone to offer their expertise. Let’s talk offline and maybe I’ll share!

  2. This is incredible, and I would imagine, a torturous process. But that comes from someone who long, long ago gave up any aspiration at writing fiction…

    Best of luck with your submission!

    • I had given up, too, until I starting opening up old folders. Starting with a heavy edit of something I already wrote felt like a good warm up; I can now entertain the thought of new fiction without the feeling of complete inadequacy. And YOU have a fair amount of material at your fingertips…Thanks for your kind words.

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