So today I worked on a short story called The Dead Police so I could send it off hopefully for publication in a magazine. The story started as an idea about ghouls, and what they’d do in a zombie apocalypse. Ghouls are rather underrated when compared to werewolves and vampires, but as a child they always represented something seriously scary.
I’ve spent the past few weeks editing short stories and sending them off to various magazines. Each day I take a short story, polish all of the good bits, while sifting out the stuff that doesn’t work. Editing a second or third draft isn’t as fun as writing the first, at least for me anyway. That first draft is judgement free, and most of the time you’re just seeing where it goes.
Editing later drafts is all about understanding what works and shaping the story to fit. It’s like working with a piece of marble that you’ve accidentally just made a well shaped nose. You want to get it right, but you do have to work with what you’ve got, so it’s important to not spend all of your time chiseling away at the same block. Get it finished and move onto something else, you can always come back to it later with some fresh ideas.
It’s great working through all of these different stories and finding that while they all differ with improvement, each has something about it that reminds me why I wanted to write it in the first place. The Dead Police was a story I wrote this year, and while I had to change bits here and there like knocking through a wall or redecorating, I didn’t need to gut out the whole thing like some of the other stories.
I had what I can only describe as the nicest rejection email, which stated that while they weren’t going to publish the story, they gave me advice on what didn’t work in the hopes that i’d resubmit it as soon as. I know we all want to strive for perfection, but knowing that i’m on the right track keeps me going.