Taking inventory – stories just sitting around

About a month ago I realized that I had only one story sitting on an editor’s desk.  I can’t sell stories if editors don’t see them, so I decided to send out the few stories I had sitting around.  I sat down to make a list of stories and story ideas that were idling.

I was shocked at the results.

There were 17 stories that had substantial starts, with six or seven that were finished or nearly so.

There were 8 stories that had abortive starts or were just idea notes.

I was also going to pull together a list of the story idea snippets (one or two lines of idea info), but decided to put that off for the time being.  After all I have these other 25 stories to work on, right?

A handful of the stories date back to the mid 1990’s when I had a brief period of authorial ambitions.  Two date back to around 1979 when those authorial ambitions first arose.  The rest, about 18 stories, are new efforts that have been started within the last two years.

The day after I made the list I sent two finished stories out the door.  One was a story I had never sent out.  It was a story that I wrote for a contest and it ended up being over a thousand words too long and no longer fit the contest rules, and I’d just let it sit instead of sending it anywhere else.  The second was a flash length story that already gathered two rejections, and that I had just let sit for no particular reason I can think of.

My goal is to try and get one of these idle stories out the door each week.   I am doing a little better than that at present.  I have sent out a total of six stories in the past month.  The contest inspired story was rejected and I sent it right back out to another magazine.  This is a habit I want to establish: submitting a rejected story to a different market as soon as possible (or put it in the queue for editing if I get feedback from an editor.)  The flash story that had two rejections has been accepted somewhere, and I will be announcing it as soon as the contract comes back to me.

The next two stories to go out were both finished, but needed some polishing.  They went out a few days apart.

A story that insisted on being written after I read the requirements for an anthology was finished next.  It is now sitting on the anthology editor’s desk.

Then came the hard decision of what to do next.

There are about six of the stories that I want to do an entire rewrite of because I have learned so much about writing in the 12 to 30 years since they were originally written.  I know I can make them 101% better.  But I didn’t want to tackle one of these old ones.  I had two stories, one that had been rejected twice, and one I had never sent out that I wanted to rewrite because I just was not happy with them.  I thought it would be a painful process, but it wasn’t.   The rewrite process was different for both.  One was a complete restart with a blank page, and the other was a slashing edit job that involved reorganzing the story; cutting and pasting and reworking awkward transitions.  The blank page rewrite is out the door and I am actively working on polishing up the other one.  It will be going to a market that I already have a story at, so as soon as I get  a response on that, out the door it will go.

Next up: I’ll pick one of the stories that is nearly finished and see if I can get it out the door by this time next week.  After that, I hope to just keep the process going.  I will likely intersperse some totally new stories into the mix; I have a great idea for a flash story that I want to send to EDF, and a few semi-autobiographical ones that I simply want to get written.

I am also hoping to get more regular in posting to this blog.  It has been a busy and distracting summer.


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