Posted in Writers, Writing

Fish or Cut Bait?

I am working on a short story collection, among other things, and in doing so, I have dredged up some of my former “masterpieces” to consider. I have begun by typing up one of the older ones that I no longer had a text file on, at first just typing what was on the page and doing some small edits here and there.
But, as I came to the conclusion of my previously written story, I realized that I hadn’t done quite as good a job as I thought at the time. In fact, I might even have written a total bomb. I can only say that my creative writing instructor at the time must have taken mercy on me, or given me a pass for the totality of my work.
So, now is the time to make the decision ever writer has to make at some point in the process of most works. Do I have something worth fighting for as a final product, or should I file this one in the round cabinet, where so many of my lost hopes have found their final resting place?
For this story, I find that there are several elements in the original story when it comes to the characters and even the action that I just failed to fully develop. I, being much younger and less experienced in the world, simply let the ball drop. The problems and conflicts and possibilities of the characters and plot, I find, do still intrigue me. And, I know that I am more qualified than I was at the time to further explore the relationships that I barely skimmed the surface of on my original attempt.
The downside to my story is I have a central action that needs to take place that I know very little about and have very little interest in personally. So, I have to get the discipline to study this area enough to make the details of the action believable, or I have to decide to change the setting and circumstances of the story to avoid having to do the research to ring true. How important is the original central conflict to the true conflict I find developed as I drafted the piece, the conflict that I think I could develop into something much more fulfilling?
These are important issues to any story re-write. Becoming a good writer is so much more than just dreaming up a storyline and characters. We have to also be winnowers, shifting the chaff from the wheat. And that is always a bit easier to do the longer it has been since you first wrote something. Even Ernest Hemingway said that the first draft of anything is trash. That’s so hard to take to heart when you are in the early drafts of anything new. But, when you have the luxury of time to reflect on your writing, it’s actually so right.
For now, I’m going to keep fishing on this short story. Only time will tell if I should truly let all or part of the story go.


I am a 40-something Texan with a feisty cat and a supportive husband of 20 years. With a Master's degree in English with an emphasis on creative writing, I have taught creative writing at Texas Tech, won awards for my writing and been blessed to be mentored by Horn Professor and poet Dr. Walt McDonald. I earn a living by helping my husband's family run a health food store, but my avocation is writing. I hope you enjoy reading about some of my triumphs and tragedies as I continue to work on figuring out what life is all about and on growing my ability to share my writing. May your own journey be a blessed one.

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