unqualified writing advice – you can’t win them all

Here’s some truth. Not every story that you will write will be publishable and that is okay.

I know that can be hard to accept. There’s ego involved here. If you take the time out of your life to sit down and write something then there better damn well be a way to benefit from that writing. I understand that attitude, because that is how I tend to think about writing. It has to have a purpose. If there is no purpose, I could easily stop this nonsense, watch Netflix, and have a more balanced lifestyle.

But there’s not always going to be a tangible (that word is not exactly right, I’ll explain why later) benefit to producing a story. Sometimes, no amount of editing is going to polish the turd enough for you to send it out to potential markets. Sorry. But its the truth.

I’ve been pumping out more stories than I ever have in my life and it’s going well. I picked up a publication in 2018 and 2019. Is that going to get my novel published and make me a wealthy author? No. But I am still in the process of learning. I am honing my ability and trying to write outside of my comfort zone. I am sending pieces out when I can, but this practice is a long game. Patience is important and so is the understanding that, sometimes, you are going to write some duds.

Take, for instance, a recent bad one. I came up with this wonderful idea about cloning. I thought it would be a really awesome science fiction story. Not too long, but longer than a flash piece. It was going to be action packed and weird and a little wild. I wrote it. I looked over it, put it away, looked over it again, went over with an editorial pass, and then decided it wasn’t going to see the light of day.

There’s no one thing that makes it a bad one. It just is. It doesn’t feel right and I think when you write enough stories, you start to learn when you have something and when you don’t. In this case, that one needs to stay in the drawer for a long time.

Also, I don’t just go off of my own instinct. I have an editor. Well, I have a best friend who works as an editor at a company that publishes text books. It’s the one advantage that I have in my writing career. I have a good editor. He is one of the judges on whether it’s a good one or a bad one.

When I am afraid to send a draft to him, then I know it’s either a bad one or it needs some work before going out the door. Having this extra pair of eyes is everything to me. I need quality control and I need someone who sees plot-holes or continuity errors. I know not everyone has this type of person in their life. I can only say I’m grateful for them.

So, what does it mean to put hours into a story only to learn that it has no where to live except in the darkest reaches of your hard-drive? Well, it means you learned. I guess that’s the “tangible” thing that you get from a bad one. You learn how not to do it. And then you move on.

I thought about that cloning story for awhile and I wish that I could have done it justice. It was a good idea, but it was a real stinker. Maybe one day, I’ll get it right. Until then, I know what didn’t work and why. I know that I can let go of that story and move onto the next one without making the same mistakes. And it doesn’t hurt your progress. As long as you are writing and trying new things, you’re going to fail. You won’t write well or you won’t get published. Big deal. If you are putting in the work, you are bettering yourself.

Read a lot and write a lot. It can never be stated enough. I do both and I learn from both. Don’t let a bad one stop that process.

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