Sued51's Blog

Last week definitely felt like an obstacle course for me. I was sick and just couldn’t get over it. Unfortunately I don’t “do rest” very well. Following advice and taking a couple of days off from work did not result in my laying in bed or on the couch with a book or watching TV (unfortunately it did not result in my getting rid of my infernal cough, either). I descaled my coffeemaker. I sorted through some mail. I played with the cats. Not strenuous activities by any means, but I have a hard time letting a day go by without doing anything on my “to do” list.

edited storyThe other (important to me) thing I did was to try to work on a short story I had planned on submitting this month. This is a time-sensitive goal because the publication usually charges a reading fee, but waives that fee in January. The end of the month is fast approaching so I didn’t want to let another day go by. I ended up creating my own obstacle course for achieving my goal.

The first obstacle was created by the fact that the story was written and saved in a many-versions-ago format of WORD (that I didn’t own, but borrowed) I had no “authorization” to open. So I basically retrieved it from the bowels of the computer. I had to open it in a notepad format and clear out the code. There were still sections that seemed misplaced, but it was mostly intact.  I cut and pasted the misplaced text (which appeared to be edited text, so still possibly valuable) and pasted it at the end of the document.

When I first read the story, it flowed with a consistent voice and SEEMED well-written and worth submitting. But then, I read it with my editor hat instead of my reader hat. The original version seemed to flow, but it was too simplistic. The verbs were too ordinary and it was full of those reviled parts-of-speech: adverbs. I had written it over 10 years ago, after all.

I began to edit on paper, getting rid of the adverbs and creating more active verbs. I found some elements of the story that didn’t seem believable, and tried to make some small changes to fix those problems. I soon had a mess on my hands: the voice became uneven and the flow had disappeared. I tried to type the revised version on the computer so I could work on it some more on the screen and had trouble following what I had done. It really became a chore! One that did not get done.

So here I sit typing this blog instead of working on the story. I am tempted to scrap my goal: the equivalent of sitting in the sand beneath the obstacle wall, unable to go any further.

So I sit here with my sandy butt, examining my motives: is this another excuse not to send anything out because of my fear of rejection and failure? I question whether I am better off going back to the original simplistic version and submitting it anyway — at least crossing that hurdle or mental block — or just submit the mess — or get up and walk away and pretend the whole thing never happened? Readers, what would you do?

Damn that wall looks hard to climb…especially when you are coughing your head off…

{November 22, 2010}   The Personal Value of Writing

I recently went through an old shoebox of keepsakes.  One of the things in the box was an essay I had written detailing my thought processes and feelings as I planned my wedding.  I had decided to get married on a tropical island, away from my family and friends.  It was a difficult and emotional decision at the time.

Right after writing it so many years ago, I had the idea of submitting it to a bridal magazine to help other women who may have been struggling with the same decision.  I gave it to a writer friend for suggestions.  She cut paragraph after paragraph, trying to condense it and make it more about the logistics of the planning, rather than the emotional ride I took.  The copy I gave to her that she returned to me has red X-marks all over it.  I’m sure she was right—it was way too personal and emotional the way I had written it.  Unfortunately, taking all of that material out caused me to lose interest in it; thus it ended up stuck in a shoebox.  Thankfully, I had also kept my original version, with my edits all over it.

Today is my 14th wedding anniversary.  I thought about posting the essay on this blog, but it really was too long in its original form and too dry in its edited form.  I decided to keep it for myself and instead write about the value of keeping and finding writing deemed unfit for publication.  I got to relive the experience and remember what went into the making of an important decision in my life.  It is easy to remember the wonderful memories from my wedding and not as easy to remember the process that made it all so special (aside from my special spouse, of course).  It will always have value to me, whether or not it ever has value to others.

et cetera
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