The Flip Side of the Coin
As regular readers will know (I like to think that there are some at least...) Writers Abroad is supporting National Short Story Week. We put out a call for submissions of short stories for an anthology that we plan to release in November in conjuction with this event. The theme of the short stories was Expat life, based on the fact that all of us are expat writers. We have had a number of submissions and with the deadline only just over a week away, I am expecting (fingers and toes duly crossed) that we will get a flurry leading upto the 15 October. That's how I work (and many WA members I have learnt), always flying by the seat of my pants.
The one thing this experience has taught me so far is that the life of an editor is not an easy one. I've read this statement more than once and always thought how bad could it be reading stories for a living? Well if the stories are well written, that's fine. And I'm not saying that all of the submissions so far have been bad. But when you've read another submission which you either don't understand, or the story is clearly a ramble of real life and not fictionalised you start to become a little frustrated.
I cringe when I think of the stories I sent out in my early writing life. We've all done it, that's how we learn and develop our craft. I would dare any writer to claim that they were perfect from day one and many of us will never be perfect. That's not the point. Writing is about exploring our style, improving our presentation, learning new ways of saying old things and if we all were so wonderful, it would be a very odd place to be. What is clear is that there is always some good writing and there will always be that which isn't so good. If everyone stopped writing just because an editor thought their submission was crap then there wouldn't be any books or stories to read. The key skill for an editor is to be able to convert 'crap' into some kind of constructive criticism.
So next time I submit something, I'm going to view it from the editors eye before pressing send, in the knowledge that this might be the umpteenth manuscript that they've read that day, and challenge them to find something positive in my words.
Don't Think Just Write