There’s been a lot of talk online* recently about craft and voice and when to know if your work is publishable or best kept in a drawer.
Linda Cassidy Lewis posted about the fact that everyone can write a story, but a writer hopes to craft one.
Jennifer Stanley and Donald Maass posted separately on voice. If you stay true to your voice, the work, according to Maass, will read “authentic and passionate.” The story, Stanley believes, will “outshine” all the others.
Rachelle Gardner said that rejection after rejection may imply a writer needs more than just good grammar skills. That writer should sign up for a class on the craft of writing with a good teacher who isn’t afraid to say, “This doesn’t work. At all.”
I wrote a story a while back that was a good story. I remember sitting in a diner watching a scene unfold across the restaurant in a way that I thought, “somebody should write about that. That’s crazy!” So I did. I made up a story that paralleled the scene I witnessed, but I didn’t tell the story well. I wrote it with a particular literary magazine in mind. And, I wrote it in a way I imagined a particular famous author would write it. My voice was lost, along with the passion. The story read flat, no matter how hard I infused it with vivid details or realistic dialogue.
I know better now, but I still have much to learn. I do recognize when a story is becoming my own – when it’s a story that I enjoy reading myself. That sounds narcissistic, but when I read my own story and think, well, I might pick it up, but I hope they will pick it up, then I need to go back, rework it, and find the place where I got lost.
There’s still no guarantee my well-crafted story will get published. But, I can lean on the belief that if it’s authentic to me, it will at least stand out next to another writer’s tale.
* If you’re on Twitter, consider following Debbie Ridpath Ohi @inkyelbows. She rolls out tweet after tweet of great links, resources, and retweets.