I saw a new market call and thought I had the perfect essay in inventory. This short piece had been published in a small local market several years ago, which did not disqualify it for this new market. At that time, the editor had pronounced it “perfect.” The deadline for the new market was approaching, but since the piece was already written, I wasn’t concerned. It might need a bit of format or other tweaking, but otherwise it was ready to send. Or so I thought. BUT–when I finally pulled up the file and printed the essay, I could see how wrong I had been. The essay was too short, shorter than I remembered. It was also not written in a way that matched the new market. I would have to start all over again from scratch. This was a mental blow that it took me a couple of days to recover from, but on the third day, I sat down and re-wrote the material into an entirely new piece. I was pretty happy with it and sent it to my critique partner. Yikes. She pointed out several major flaws, so global that I realized I had gone completely wrong with tone and focus. So wrong that the entire piece would have to be started all over again, for the third time, in order to make it appropriate for the new market. Disheartening for sure. But lucky for me, the call deadline had been extended. (See The Moving Deadline for a related post.) I could, alternatively, drop this project altogether, deciding it’s not the type of work I’m best at. But I won’t do that without giving it one more try.
James Michener once said, “I’m not a great writer. But I am the world’s greatest re-writer.” Non-writers only see our best, finished work. They often have no idea what we go through to get there. Sometimes when starting a project, I also have no idea what it will take to finish successfully. I do know, however, that I won’t get there at all if I don’t try.