The stories we really love. There are so many I can think of that other people have written. But the ones you write yourself, they can sometimes be a strange beast.
I was thinking of it this week as edited one of the first pieces I had ever completed with the aim of showing it to an audience. It’s a fantasy piece, rather inspired by my love of the grand sweeping epics that gobbled up my hours growing up. I’d sent it to markets before, but only having sat it in a digital drawer for a year and now pulling it out to look again can I see the creases that needed ironing out. And now it’s ironed I’ve sent it out into the world once more. And you know what? It’s still one of my favourite stories. Now I just have to hope it becomes someone else’s favourite too.
Another story I loved is the first I had published, Another Sunset. It’s not just the symbolic idea of it being the first step on the journey, but the story itself was a kind of journey for me. It’s not that that I would ever write a story I dislike, that’s a way to write bad stories, but some have a special place. Another Sunset was about chasing dreams and the risks we take to attain them. Rather nauseatingly poetic right? It’s also about space, new frontiers, and all the excitement of looking at the stars and wondering what’s out there. But although it was published, the market it was offered through never really took off. So I was left with a story I loved and wanted to share, but feeling perhaps like it didn’t fly like I wanted it to. Anyway, enough of the poncy journey metaphors.
As a writer of prose I feel like perhaps I’ve at least got an advantage over some people. I attended a seminar on script writing recently. And between all the informative advice and amusing anecdotes about writing for Doctor Who, the thing that stuck with me most is about the idea of these loved stories. In script writing you can write something you love, create a piece of art that you feel is the best you’ve ever sculpted, and despite everything, despite all the passion you’ve poured into it, you’re entirely at the whim of others as to its ultimate release. Your greatest work could sit there forever, never to be seen by the world.
At least we who write poetry and prose have an avenue for our release. We have options for that novel which agents seem to like but not quite like enough, for that short story that speaks to your dreams but apparently not to someone else’s. For all the confusion and complication of self-publishing, all the time and effort trying to work out what might be best for your work, and sorting through the myriad platforms and opportunities to wing it out into the world… at least we have those opportunities. So write the stories you love. Because ultimately you should be writing for you. And if at the end you can’t find someone else who wants to take it from you and show it to the world, there’s always a way for you to do it yourself.