Allowing Enough Time

When I was in college I would dash off a paper the night before it was due and get a B of some sort on it.  I don’t think I ever cranked out an A+ paper that way, but I got the job done and got a “good enough” grade.

At one point I was thinking of applying to graduate school and pulled out one of those papers to provide as a writing sample.  There was an obvious typo on the first page and the writing was a little unimaginative.  (It was a paper on the poverty line, so not the sexiest of topics, but still.)

Granted, my paper written in one go was probably better than some people’s tenth draft of a paper.  But that doesn’t mean it was good enough to be done with.

To truly produce my best work requires time.

Write a draft.  Set it aside for a bit.  Reread.  Correct Errors.  Set it aside for a bit.  Reread.  Correct….

About five iterations of that.

The reason I’m thinking about this is because I’m putting together a collection of four of the short stories I’ve published so far.  Each of the short stories has been refined and honed extensively, so no problem there.

(Although, as a writer, there’s always something you want to tweak.)

The problem is the blog posts from my “reader blog” that I wanted to include.

I thought it would be a matter of stripping out a sentence or two here or there that were a little off topic or blog-related.  Yeah, not so much.

When I started reading them I realized they needed far more editing than that.

You might have noticed that I tend to wander a bit in my blog posts.  They’re generally a write once, reread twice, post sort of deal.  A bit stream of consciousness.  That’s okay for this blog, but, as an essay to introduce a story, it doesn’t work.

Each post needed to be trimmed down and focused much more.

Which is where this time notion comes back into play.  I wrote those posts a month ago and now I can see their flaws.  If I’d looked at them the next day, I’m not sure I would have.

And I’m not saying that what I wrote wasn’t okay.  The posts are “good enough” right now.  But they’re not as good as they can be.

I can knock out a decent flash story in half an hour.  And could probably knock out an adequate novel in six weeks.  But that’s all they’d be.  Decent.  Adequate.

I’d like my writing to be better than that.

And that requires time.

So, as tempting as it is to dash something off and put it up on Amazon or send it off to markets. my goal for 2014 is going to be to allow everything to sit just a little longer.  At least a week for short stories.  At least a month for novels.

(I’m not going to do that with blog posts, though.  If I let those sit, I’ll never publish another one again.  So, you’re stuck with my slightly flawed, rambling diatribes for a while longer. Sorry!)

Oh! And if you’re doing NANO–take this advice to heart.  Put whatever you wrote this month aside until January.  Come back to it fresh in the New Year.  Your book will be better for it.

About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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