On Friday, I posted about writers and galleys, and on Sunday I got an email from a writer who had gone to some research trouble to track me down.

She doesn't want her name revealed but in her email she said she had a question about something she thinks stalled her writing career for several years.

She sent a short story to a small press for an anthology publication and they accepted it, and asked her if she would write another for consideration as part of another project they were running. She did, they accepted that one too, and offered her the chance to have a short story collection published by them in about 18 months time. She was as she puts it 'walking on air', believing she'd finally found a solid foundation to build her life as a writer.

About eight months later they sent her the proofs for her first story and she was shocked to see how 'basic' (her word again) it was compared to the work she'd been producing recently. So she rewrote it - adding about 1500 words and a whole new subplot - and sent it back.

That anthology appeared, with her revised story in it. But the second project seemed to have stalled. Each time she rang they told her it was on a back burner. When she finally mentioned the short story collection they said they'd get back to her. A few days later she got a 'short note' telling her they'd had a change of editorial policy and wouldn't be using her story or publishing her collection.

She had never consided whether tinkering with the first story caused this change of mind until a friend of hers sent her to my blog. Now she feels certain that it did. But, she says, the revised story was so much better! What should she have done? Allowed it to go out and represent her abilities when it was so clearly inadequate?

Good question.

My answer would be yes. BB King says, 'I go on stage every night and do the best I can - sometimes my best isn't as good as I'd like it to be, but I do it anyway. That's my job.' A writer who takes their job seriously is here to write and get published. Not every piece of fiction can be stellar. Not every rock song makes it to number one. Mozart wrote concertos that are rarely played because, frankly, they are mediocre. But the fiction gets published, the song gets to number eight or seven in the charts, Mozart got paid for his crappy music and used the money to pay the rent.

The point is not to be perfect every time, but to be there - in the anthology, on the shelf, in people's minds when they are looking for a writer to work with. They can't choose you if they've never read your work, and it's better to have a story out there that you know you could improve given a chance, than no story at all.