Sunday, March 20, 2011

Surprise From the Bottom Drawer

When one writes regularly over a period of time, one generally gets better at it. I can testify to this, because I've come across stories I'd started – or even completed – years before, and when I read through that old attempt, I've recognized it as something I wrote, but it seemed so poorly written. Surely I had never been that bad a writer!

Over a decade ago, I self-published a chapbook using one of my Atlan stories. I didn't print a lot of copies, but even so, I knew I couldn't sell it to any other market, so the story went in a bottom drawer, never to be seen again.

I wasn't the only person to remember that story, however. My good friend Tommee has decided she really doesn't like retirement much. She's never been into soap operas, never will be a clean freak, and even reading has become somewhat old by now. Like me, she never thought that last one would happen. But anyway, she's decided to start a small press. We've talked about it over the years, now and again, and she's decided to go for it. She asked to use my old chapbook story as her first attempt, while she 'figured out the bumps and potholes' of how it's done.

She's supported me over the decades of our friendship, and I wanted to return the favor, so I said okay. Then I cringed. That story had been the best I could make it, ten or more years ago, but… I decided to take a final look at it, give it another polish.

I've gotten about half way through it, and … there hasn't been much to polish. A word here or there is all I've changed, and I understand when that's all you're doing, it's probably as good as you're going to get it. So … either it was fluke that I managed to write it so well so long ago, or … I've been pretty good at this writing stuff far longer than I thought I was.

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