Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. (Or in my case, sweep the floor.)

There is a story.

It started out as a fanficcy little speculation on somebody else’s world, and at that stage it lived only in my head. One day the seed attached itself instead to another idea, this one mine, and having done so, it grew.

I tried many times to write it as a short story. Seven times, according to my files, and of those, only attempt #5 was ever completed. But I knew it sucked, and that’s why attempts #6 and #7 happened — continual attempts to cram the narrative into the confines of a short story. Until one day I said, screw this; let’s see how long it wants to be. Whereupon I wrote a twenty-two thousand word novella.

That being a useless length for a young writer with no publishing credits, the novella went into the drawer. Later I brought it out for critique, thinking I might try to sell it after all, but I never got around to revising it. My odds of selling it were too low, and I had this subconscious feeling the story needed more than just a polish. So back into the drawer it went.

Until I found myself with a reason to pick it up again, and a chance of maybe selling it, too. More than seven years after writing the novella, I brought it out for critique again, this time with the knowledge that I would probably do a ground-up rewrite: after all, one hopes I had improved in the intervening years. I knew I wanted to make substantial changes, but what I didn’t know — not consciously, not until one of my readers pointed it out — was that the story had a fundamental flaw at its core. One that made most of the narrative action pointless and unnecessary. The kind of flaw you have to fix, or dump the story.

Tonight, while sweeping the dojo after karate, I figured out how to fix that flaw. And given the story, that was a very appropriate time for such an epiphany.

No, you don’t get to know what the story is. Not yet. But I promise you’ll know within the next six months, whatever the tale’s ultimate fate will be.

0 Responses to “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. (Or in my case, sweep the floor.)”

  1. logovore

    Congratulations! (Even though this probably doesn’t actually mean I get to read an epic kung fu master-student romance. Oh, well, one of these years.)

    • Marie Brennan

      Romance, no. But you pointed me in a useful direction, aside from the basic (and very major) usefulness of pointing out the flaw in the first place.

      Muchas gracias.

  2. starlady38

    [obligatory Zen aphorism goes here]

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