I saw a call for a new anthology. I thought had a story in inventory that would work. I had written it a few years ago and run it by my critique partner. Stephanie made some astute comments and I revised the story accordingly. So, it was pretty much ready to go–or so I thought. Then I pulled out the hard copy and starting reading, ready to make a few minor tweaks. After the first two sentences I was appalled. “This is awful! Unreadable. Boring,” I thought to myself. “Why didn’t I see this before. And more important, how can I fix it?” And still more urgently, how can I fix it in time for the anthology’s deadline?
Yep, thinking the story was nearly ready to go, I had waited till a couple of weeks before the deadline. I had other projects to work on, after all. Surely it would be easy to work this story into the schedule. But no, suddenly I was faced with some major revisions. At one point in my writing life, I might have given up in despair, believing I couldn’t fix the story in time. And at one point, that would have been true. But I’m way beyond that point these days. From years of experience, in reading, writing, revising, critiquing and listening to the critiques of others, I had a pretty good idea of what the story needed: change the point of view, add more dialogue, develop one of the secondary characters a bit more. It was also those years of experience that had enabled me to see how bad the story was in the first place. Stephanie had pointed out the most egregious problem. Silly me, not to have seen the others. But that was then, this is now.
I made the changes, re-read the guidelines for formatting one more time, then sent it off. It still may not be accepted. Might not be good enough. Might not be as close to the theme as the editor wants. Or, while it may be good enough, she might get dozens more that are better. But if I had succumbed to my initial panic, I would have stopped myself cold, and wouldn’t even have the chance for an acceptance. The cure for panic is two-fold. First, get that experience, then have faith that that experience is enough preparation to handle whatever writing challenges come up. Repeat.