Writing, Revising, and Submitting


I did something yesterday that I hate to do--submitted a story within hours of  writing it.

Why is that a problem? 

Most stories have several drafts. Some people call that first draft the down-and-dirty version. Basically, the writer focuses on getting it written and worries about polishing it later. My internal editor won't let me use the down-and-dirty approach, though. From the first word of a piece, I work on choosing the right word, description, and phrasing. That doesn't mean my first draft is perfect. It's not.

FYI, I just paused in writing this to revise something in the previous paragraph. Yes, my internal editor is alive and kicking.

After the first draft, the writer needs to revise their work. In a perfect world, you will set the piece aside for a few days or better yet a few weeks before attempting this. After it's not fresh in your mind, you pick it up and work on improving it. This can take multiple run-throughs. In fact, my first novel, THE WATCHERS OF MONIAH, went through ten revisions.

Why so many revisions?

As I workshopped the manuscript, I received feedback from others. That led to quite a few changes. Later, an agent's interest and questions prompted me to add more to the first book. That required dividing the first book into two books. Of course, for appropriate word count, I had to write more in the second book, THE WATCHERS IN EXILE, too. I blogged about this decision some time ago, if you're curious.

When the agent passed on the series, I hired a developmental editor to help me polish it even further. The result became the first two books of the trilogy.

I did not go through this with the third book THE WATCHERS AT WAR. Authors learn as they progress in their careers, and I needed less help in revising the last book. It did go through three revisions, though, including one with my developmental editor.

Why did I submit an early draft?

The short story I wrote yesterday was in response to an anthology's call for entries. This anthology's criteria included a theme, one that stumped me for quite some time. At the eleventh hour, inspiration hit, so I wrote the story and revised it once with a bit of tweaking after that. I would have loved to let it sit for a week before sending it in, but the deadline was last night.

What if the story isn't accepted?

I can revisit the story and submit it elsewhere or publish it in my own short story collection.

Rejected stores aren't necessarily bad. Sometimes it doesn't fit the judge's vision. Sometimes the story is very similar to another one, and they can't choose both. Sometimes a different judge or editor will appreciate the story. I once submitted a story to The Petigru Review that got rejected one year only to get published in the journal the next year.

A story is never dead.

Have you ever done this before?

Yes. I've done it three times, two with success.

My essay "Unexpected" appeared in the award-winning anthology, Child of My Child, and my short story , "Prayers for Bethany," won First Place in the Carrie McCray Short Story contest, Third Place in the HubCity/Emrys prose contest, and received a Pushcart Prize nomination.

I don't suggest trying to write something in a hurry, but, occasionally, the words fall in line and everything works out.

I'll let you know if this one gets accepted. Of course, it will be months before I hear any news.


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