Lyndsay, Put the Pen Down...

It's been a funny couple of weeks, laced with New Year's revelations and a generous amount of carpet-whipping from under feet, disillusionment, and the such like. Look for further details in a novel of mine in twenty years' time.

Naturally, this is made me want to work, as writing is therapy to me, as I'm sure it is to you, so I buried my head in my computer this past week, only receiving the odd electric shock. Whilst on my internet travels, I saw that the submission deadline for a lit mag I like was the coming weekend, and I had a piece hanging around my computer that could be welded to fit the theme. The particular piece that was hanging around was a bit of a sore nerve, or, more literally, a representative of one, as I spent FOREVER on it, submitted it to Elle UK Writing Competition a few months ago, and sat around hoping that maybe it would go somewhere. Unfortunately, I didn't place *sob* (you can read a finalist's entry here), so gutted as I was, and as dramatic as I am, I decided that piece was dead, never to be looked at again.

Then I saw the theme of this magazine's next issue and thought, 'Ah, dammit, it's perfect for it,' so opened it up on screen. And guess what? I hated it. Not because it had let me down or represented failure to me, but because it was so obvious how much time and angst had gone into it - I'd basically edited and edited and changed and polished until it was so tightly wrought that I felt the whole thing might snap at any second. It was soooo overdone that I wouldn't have placed it in the competition either.

So, emergency chocolate break later, I had a think about this, and I realised a few things:

1) I often feel like this when I go back to fiction I've written, or pieces I've been over again and again;

2) I rarely feel like that about blog posts, apart from the oldest and most high concept ones, and I know this because I've recently been to the start and back again whilst compiling my new 'Archive' page.

3) I actually don't feel like that when I go back over my WIP, as I figure that all first drafts are crap and that there's plenty of time to fix it later, so I just type what I'm thinking and leave it at that.

I also write blog posts really quickly, and with very little editing, because their lifespans are not long. They stay at the top of my 'Blog' tabs for 3 days normally before I place something else on top, so there's no justification for epic editing or vast over-thought. My fiction/competition entries, on the other hand, I leave myself loads of time to do, and return to them over and over again.

So, I did rework the Elle piece for this other mag, but I did it all around work this week, launching straight into it each time right from where I left off. I've spent four hours on it, maximum, including the time it took me and my husband to read it this morning and go, 'yeah, I guess it's alright.' I have defiantly taken a hands-off-the-handbars, free-wheeling approach, with no pressure and no expectation. It's actually been quite fun.

So, maybe this will do better, maybe it won't. Maybe this piece is just not quite there on a number of levels. I don't know. But maybe just relaxing and being myself is the way forward, rather than thinking 'this must be perfect!' every damn time. Who knows; they might still say no. But it's an interesting theory, and an interesting thought.

I'll keep you posted.

1 comment:

  1. It's getting published. This approach worked. BOOM!


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