Second Draft

Write What You Want To

Posted in Writing by Jill Snider Lum on Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I’m working on a story for an anthology right now (in addition to the Frankenbook, Son of Frankenbook, and of course, Demon Gate).  I got the story completed, after long and arduous effort… and disliked it.  My excellent critiquing tribe, the Cecil Street writers’ group, read it, and of course helped me to see a lot of what was wrong with it.  Usually this experience galvanizes me into a fresh approach to a story, leading to a piece of work that I like much better than before.

This time I just wanted to chuck the entire story.  And after a certain amount of cogitation, I figured out why.

I’d started out wanting to write a Japanese ghost story — I had ideas for it, it would be much different from the last one, but still, Japanese.  I decided not to, because the last two pieces I’d had published took place in Japan, and I thought it would be a bad idea to be known as the person whose writing always has Japanese themes… like someone with only one string to her bow.  So I decided to write something else instead.

Now, I don’t know if this applies to any of the rest of you who write, but for me, it was a mistake.  I’ve learned that I have to be pleased with what I’m writing for it to turn out even halfway-decently.  The Something Else Instead just wasn’t what I wanted to do, and my subconscious knew it, even though my conscious was trying not to think about it.

Obviously there are restrictions on what we write about in fiction, including things like the market we’re after, the demands of the editors, the guidelines for submission, and so on.   But within those restrictions, I’d advise you to write what you know you want to write, rather than what you feel you ought to.  It will make for a much better story.

I’m revising the original piece I wrote, but I’m also working now on the one I wanted to write.  It’s coming along much better, and taking hardly any time at all.  And I know that even after the helpful flensing it’ll get from the Cecil Street gang, I won’t want to toss it in the trash.  The brain is an interesting thing; it’s amazing what it can do when you jolly it along a little.


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