If you're not feeling insecure then you're either dead, you're drunk, or you're lying to yourself.
Join us on the first Wednesday of each month in Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group--a forum of writers who gather to talk about writing and the writer's life. For a complete list of participants visit Alex's Blog.
When do you know your story is ready?
Your story is ready when you've received payment for it and the check is deposited in the bank. That's enough confirmation for me in a practical sense. But I guess there is more to it than that since you've got to feel confident enough to submit the story in the first place. You, the writer, have to check it out to see if the story is ready for consumption.
Let me offer an analogy taken from real life. Today I decided to make a batch of sugar cookies with an M&M candy stuck in the middle of each one. I was in the mood for some cookies so I made some. I have a problem with my oven where apparently the thermostat isn't working or something so I have to carefully watch anything I cook in it. Yeah, I guess I should get it fixed, but I've gotten used to it.
It's not difficult baking stuff, but I do have to cook with care. First, like when writing something, my past experience gets me started with a knowledge of what to expect. While whatever is in the oven is baking I use the smell test to make sure it all turns out right. The story has to smell right in the first place or it's not going to be especially successful.
While the cookies are baking I have to peek in on them periodically to make sure they look okay. When I write, I edit as I go to some extent--that's the eyeball test in a sense. Then when the cookie edges are lightly browned and the general appearance looks ready, I pull the cookies out of the oven to let them cool. That's the story too: If it looks good in every respect I can put the story aside for awhile to let it cool off a bit.
Finally, I'll go back and eat a couple cookies. That's like the definitive read and edit when I decide whether or not the story is worth serving to others. And that's the analogy of cookies and stories. It makes no sense perhaps, but then again I'm just cranking out a blog post and just saying any old silly thing.
I know this is a stupid analogy, but dammit I've got cookies and I don't have to read any story right now. So eat your heart out--I'm going to eat my cookies. And maybe I'll read a book or watch television or something. And eat a few cookies with a glass of milk. Later I'll write a story. Or maybe just another blog post.
Battle of the Bands Vote
There's still time to vote on my current Battle of the Bands competition. It's a tight race between two versions of a song I originally heard in the 1988 Harrison Ford film Frantic. I think it's a darn good song with some tasty guitar work in the versions I've matched up. So if you are so inclined and would be so kind, please stop by this post to cast your vote. The winner will be announced on Friday.
Do you like to bake? Do you like to eat cookies? Do you like to think up ridiculous analogies?