|As longtime readers of this newsletter know, I am a writer in my life outside of Stone Soup. I write articles for magazines, I have written two books, and I write book chapters for edited anthologies. I have been in London for two weeks and have another to go. I am here staying with my partner. And, except for a little Stone Soup work, all I am doing is writing. The River Thames is less than half a block away and the lights of the city are right outside the apartment window. There are lots and lots of things do and see, but so far I have been leaving the sights to others and I've writing about eight hours every day.|
I am in the finishing stages of a book I started in 2002. That is a long time to be working on a single project. I am not sure what the analogy is—let’s say it’s like a very very long race. What makes writing different from a race is that you know you finished the race when you cross the finish line. But, when is a story or a poem or a book “finished?” There is no line to cross. Creative projects are finished when we set the pencil down or stop typing and say, well, it’s done.
There is a saying: “Perfection is the enemy of the good.” Which is to say, if you strive for a perfection that cannot be attained you’ll never get done. We are always learning and growing as artists and there gets to be a point when you have to declare what you are working on finished and then move on to the next piece.
This is probably the struggle that I am in now. I need to stop writing new material to focus on the hundreds of pages of writing that I have already done that needs shaping.
For those of you who are working on longer works or who have one or more stories in various states of completion there are times when you have to take a hard look at what you have, and then make tough judgments. You may decide that some pieces are not worth pursuing because you are no longer interested in them. That is fine. But, if you have something that is almost done, or could be almost done, set aside some time and get to work.
I think every author has his or her own rituals. As a rule, authors who are successful (meaning they get work finished), often have a routine they follow. Like, they write at the same time every day or every few days for a certain amount of time, or until they’ve written a certain number of words. For those of you who are serious about your writing, I encourage you to find way to fit it into your life, no matter how busy it is. If you are an early riser, then getting up Saturday morning before your family, fixing yourself some breakfast, and writing for an hour might be a pattern you could start now that would serve you well for your entire life.
Which brings me back to Stone Soup. Whenever you have a story or poem you think is finished, and that Emma might be interested in, please upload it to our submissions page!