Sunday, January 17, 2010

Only the Best

I was reading newsletters this morning, sorting through contests, calls for submissions, market listings and so on. As I looked for the ones that might interest me, I was struck by how many of these listings flatly stated, "Send us your best work."

Okay, if I were going to follow those instructions literally, each of these places would only get one piece of work from me, they would all get the same piece, and they wouldn't get it until after I died … or at least gave up writing completely. 'Best' by definition can only be applied to one.

Surely that isn't what they meant. I think what they probably mean is that whatever piece of work I send them should be the best piece of work I can make it.

That's almost insulting. I work hard at writing. I review grammar rules, study the craft, carefully consider my options when I'm rewriting a piece. Any time I send in a submission, the piece IS the best I can make it at that time.

Of course, I'm not the only one sending submissions. Maybe others aren't as careful as I am. Maybe they haven't learned as much about the craft as I have, and they are still making mistakes I have learned not to make. And, maybe I'm still making mistakes that I haven't yet learned not to make.

One thing I have learned is to be careful which word I use and how I phrase what I want to say. It is so easy to have a sentence or phrase say something that isn't exactly what I wanted. I know better than to say that I have two pieces of work, each of which is my 'best'. Each of them are the best I can make them at the time.

So make your best effort with each of your stories. Be careful what you say. I'll be back next week. Trudy

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