Aug 31, 2009, 1:40 PM
Post #508 of 714
I also see the gleam of "strangeness" on some of my old (two-, even four-year-old) stories, and think that makes them better than my current ones.
Re: [WanderingTree] Submitting same writing samples
[In reply to]
They (probably) aren't. I'm just far enough away not to remember all the work and half-fixed mistakes in them. And they have nostalgia as well as relative freshness on their side.
I have one two year old story that I like a lot-- in terms of voice and aesthetic. But it's got *no* plot. So I'm reworking that story (read: making it into an actual *story*) now, in hopes of it becoming half of my sample.
As for the other half: I'm churning out short story drafts right now, hoping to get one with enough spark to polish into a full-blown, quality piece that people will actually want to read :)
In this thread, the advice has come up lots, but it's been really helpful for me, and might be worth repeating: you're too close to see your stories in the way an audience would. You might get more of a "audience experience" when you read older, half-forgotten stuff, but those stories still not fresh and foreign in the way they are for someone who has no idea how your mind works, or who has their own completely separate/different point of view.
And when you come down to it, why specifically do you think those stories are strong?
Are you sure you don't like those old stories because they were the product of a (now long-ago) breakthrough? Because someone you liked or admired was impressed by them at the time? Because they were so much fun to write? In other words: do you love these stories for sentimental reasons, as opposed to technical ones?
I'm not saying this to be condescending-- I've wrestled with this issue. The stories we like best might be our writing sample front-runners for the same reasons we'll never throw out our ancient copies of The Secret Garden (insert your own childhood favorite) even if we'll never read it again. And because we genuinely do love these stories, it's hard to see whether other people will love them, too.
That's why I'm working with a story that *doesn't* seem perfect, and that *wasn't* a breakthrough, or anything significant in my life at the time it was written. That's also why I'm forcing myself to send new work. Everyone talks about her novel as her "baby" etc, and that love is real-- which is why it is so blinding and dangerous.