Getting over your writing self
Most of the time it seems to me that being a writer is mainly a process of getting over yourself. It’s about getting your ego out of the way, and getting on with the job, or as Borges put it, knowing that “A writer should have another lifetime to see if he's appreciated.”
So right now I’m in the getting over myself stage of writing a short story for a competition. I’ve written the story, it’s a fantastic story at 3,100 words. It has to be 2,500 words to meet the entry requirements so I’ve cut it ruthlessly to suit.
The thing is, the 3,100 word story is much better. It has depth and nuance and some really nice metaphors. The 2,500 word story is stark by comparison and thin and lacks the metaphorical richness of the longer one.
Getting over myself means accepting that I have a choice – I can either enter the shorter, skinnier but rule-meeting story in the contest … or not. To enter is obviously the logical course. But a large part of me is whinging and feeling that my literary integrity is being compromised by the rules of the Babylon world etc, ad nauseum.
I can guarantee that before the deadline is reached, I will have accepted that the shorter story might win, or at least be a finalist in the contest, but if it doesn’t perform as I believe it should, I can take the longer story and submit it to literary magazines. I will have reconciled myself to the fact that if you want to win competitions, you have to enter stories that are capable of winning and not pine about having written a better story that couldn’t win because it didn’t meet the entry requirements. And I shall be stoic about the fact that if the truncated version does place in the contest, the longer version will probably never see publication.
But for now I’m being a brat about it. Ignore me. I’ll get over myself.
Tantrum image courtesy of anomalous4 at Flickr
Labels: editing, short story competition