Now Richard III’s disappearance may well have been the most successful hide and seek ever (ok, so you’ve heard them all, there are no new Richard III jokes now), but the disappearance of my stories, once written, comes a close second.
And I don’t mean into an editor’s black hole of an inbox.
I mean their disappearance into the file that should read ‘finished stories that I can’t bear to part with’.
Because that’s what I do. I write them. Send them to a trusted group of readers – you know who you are – edit them, make a careful note of word count, intended market, title etc. Well I tell my husband I make a careful note. I scribble in a notebook. And then I sit on them. Not literally, obviously, if I were doing that my hair would be brushing against the ceiling.
But I’m a shocker for not sending them out. There’s a few ‘out there’s’ out there at the moment, but a fraction of what is ready to go out there – headers and footers all in place, title page tidy, cover letter written.
And I don’t know quite why. Confidence? Don’t think so. Can cope with the rejections – you quickly develop a tough skin in the writing world. Can equally cope with the acceptances – there’s been enough of them to tell me that if I try hard, put my mind to it, and focus on a market I can do it. Although I’m never complacent. And it’s not true to say I can’t bear to part with them either. I write for publication, not to please myself, although I enjoy the cathartic, creative and sometimes vengeful process. It’s the best job in the world.
And it’s not as though I’m the world’s best editor – like I’m sitting on a story waiting for an idea to fall from the sky which will transform it from good to great. Or that I revise and re-phrase again and again. One edit and a cursory glance through, and then I’m bored.
I think I like knowing that I have stories there that I could send out, if I wanted to. That I have a safety net should my typing fingers not function for a while (they could go a good while – there’s loads of them). And I think that although I love the process of writing, and I like being published too – not least because the cash comes in mighty handy, I don’t like the admin that surrounds it. That bit, quite frankly, I find Boring.
So I think what I need is some kind of target. I had one for January. That slipped by unnoticed. I am going to be tougher on myself in February. I will sacrifice some writing time and spend it sending them out.
Let’s hope the editors’ inboxes don’t resemble a car park somewhere deep in Leicestershire.