In which the author mixes metaphors and plans the growth of the Poppet Army

In which the author mixes metaphors and plans the growth of the Poppet Army

I started putting together a little book of inspirational quotes about writing that I’ve collected. It may be a little gimmicky, but reading those words of encouragement helps me to feel better, and having them all in a handy little embellished notebook makes them easy to find. Maybe I’ll share it here some time.

Anyway.

I kept coming across quotes about Finishing Things, a topic discussed here before, probably several times and at length.

The admonition to ‘finish things’ cross-pollinated with something I took away from the recent Dreams With Sharp Teeth special on Harlan Ellison, in which he talked about the incredible body of work he produced just in his first year of selling stories. Then the wind shifted and another spore of wisdom blew in from the SWFA website, in 50 Strategies for Making Yourself Work. Switching metaphors briefly, the specific tip that got its chocolate in my peanut butter was “keep five manuscripts in the mail at all times.”

“Body of work,” my mind kept whispering. “Finish things.”

I wrote recently about that enormous backlog of files I was organizing. What I realized is that I have not been moving on to the next story; I’ve been beating the old ones to death because they are not perfect. Well, of course they’re not perfect, or possibly even good — I started them years ago. But by hanging onto them, trying to perfect them before I release them into the wilderness of pending rejection, I am preventing myself from moving on to the next thing, which will be better.

There are stories that I have started, labored over, finished, deemed completely unworthy, rewritten, work-shopped, cut up, pieced back together, and generally abused and mistreated for a very long time. My obsession with them is preventing me from working on the new stuff, because I feel guilty about having unfinished things. I tell myself that I shouldn’t work on the new, shiny story when I’ve got this other stuff on my back.

So finish them, says I. Finish them, send them the hell out, and get on with it. That is how one builds a body of work.

So for the month of June I will be cleaning out the backlog. This week it’s Devotions. I went back through some old drafts and discovered that I have finished two completely different versions of the story. I also discovered that the first four drafts I have of it were each written from scratch! Seriously? Each time I was so sure that the previous draft was fatally flawed that I started over.

They may yet be fatally flawed, but by the end of the week I will put together something that I am okay sending out to seek its fortune.

Clearly I need to work on consistency of metaphor. So far we’ve been flowers, mushrooms, peanut butter cups, and now the sons of fairy tale kings.

The point being that by the end of June anything that is Almost Done will instead Be Done and off my conscience.

I will need a larger Poppet budget.

Cheers.

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