I saw a few open calls for short stories this week that I was very excited about. I had a story for each that had been cluttering my hard drive for years. They were great stories. No editor would turn them down. All I had to do is give them a once-over proofing and send them off.
The quality of the stories seems to have unexpectedly decayed in storage. I remembered them as being fast, fun, and unpredictable, but somehow over the years they had become plodding, dull, and didactic. I never took myself to be the didactic type, or the type who thinks he’s clever and goes through great lengths to prove it, to only come off like a putz. So I am at a loss to what happened to them. I think that one of the stories can be rewritten front to back so that the idea can be salvaged, but the other must be scrapped completely.
These stories are not bad or incompetently done. If I were to send them out they would likely be published. But I think I have an obligation to not send out anything into the world that doesn’t represent my best.
It makes me a little vulnerable, because it cuts me off from excuses like ‘well, it’s not my best but there was a deadline…,’ but maybe the vulnerability can make me a little better, and anyways, you, my public, always deserve the best material possible.