Sunday, October 18, 2009

Lock, Stock and Story

This week, I was reading some of my newsletters – I hate when those things pile up – and I came across announcements for two contests that looked interesting. The deadlines were kind of short notice – one reason why I hate letting my newsletters pile up – so I would have to send something I had already written.

I went to my list of stories, and found that the one I was thinking of sending to the first contest had already been submitted to that contest last year, and the story I had thought of sending to the second contest had also been sent to that contest last year. I started looking at the rest of the list, to see what I might have that was near the proper word count. I had time for a couple quick re-writes to trim out excess words, if needed, but not enough time to start from scratch.

My list seemed short. A dozen stories, was that all I had? That couldn't be right. So I combed through my files, looking for all the stories I had written or was in the midst of writing that had not yet been added to that list. Yes, this list had started as a list of where my stories had been submitted, but I needed to know what I had available and in the works. By going through my files, I re-discovered stories I hadn't worked on in years!

My list is now 53 stories long, and I can remember at least 2 other stories I've worked on but don't have listed yet, so I must not have been very thorough in combing my files. (I'm suffering from a bad head cold, so the brain isn't functioning well … one reason why I've been doing 'organizational' things rather than creatively writing.)

I think this 'inventory' is a good idea. Some of these stories I added to the list were ready for submission, but had been overlooked for some time. Others were little more than an idea or a half-baked rough draft. I found a way to designate which ones are ready to be submitted, but now that I have this list, I can decide on my next project much more easily.

Writers are told that when you think you are done with a story, you should set it aside for a time and then come back to it with 'fresh eyes' for a final polish. I try to give my stories a rest between each draft, but obviously, I sometimes forget them for longer than I intend. With this list, I can keep the inventory 'rotating', and hopefully work more stories to the 'ready to be submitted' stage.

Do you have a list of your inventory? Or do you have a lot of stories that have been set aside and consequently forgotten? I don't need any more competition out there, but still, figure out what you've got, and where you're at with each one. Maybe there's a contest waiting for one of your stories.

Next week is Icon, in Iowa. We'll get home on Sunday, but I don't know if I'll get a blog written that day. So, see you in a week or two. Trudy

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