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Perspective on Writing is a Fickle Thing


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Ask me today how I feel about a certain story of mine and I'll answer differently if you ask me next month. I've been working on revising a short story of mine and it's been a challenge. Yesterday was the first time I looked at it in a month, and I thought it needed quite a lot of shaping up. The plotline was solid but there were other factors that made me feel a bit "blech" about it. It made me think of how perspective on writing can be incredibly fickle.

You see, I also rant into a flash fiction piece of mine that I had long since written off as being unworthy of publication. When I read it over the weekend, I thought to myself, "Wow, this really isn't that bad." The same can be said of a short story I wrote several years ago, also that fell in the category of "not really that great." After some polishing, I am now re-submitting it for various lit mags. 

I'm a huge proponent of distance from writing and getting a fresh perspective. It can reveal things about a story that you really didn't see before. It can cut both ways too. You may realize something wasn't as terrible as you first thought, and you may discover something wasn't as great as you remembered.

If you have finished a story, whether it feels "blech" or amazing, give yourself some distance. It's an important part of the writing process where you quietly extricate yourself as being the writer of the piece and become the reader instead. I've discovered this can be important if I'm stuck on a piece too. By removing myself with distance, even letting years pass at times, I return to it with a fresh perspective. I can see something in it that I never did before.

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