Schrodinger’s Story


I enjoy every aspect of creating a new story, but one.

I like the brainstorm part, where an idea settles in, usually over the course of multiple days, before I ever type the first word.

The first draft is especially cool. Often the story runs amok and I discover things about the characters and the world of the story that I never originally intended. This is where, when I’m lucky, I write my best lines.

Revisions are cool, too. I go over the feedback from my crit partners and beta readers to nip and tuck at the story and give it the best possible face lift. Sometimes merely the act of letting the story sit for a few days and approaching it with a fresh eye will allow me to identify weak spots in the writing and fix them.

I enjoy sending the stories out on submission, and the thrill of making it past the slush readers and of an occasional sale. Rejections are OK, too. They’re part of the game.

Editorial revisions and copy-edits are fun; a competent editor will always make the story better and make me look smarter in the process.

And, of course, there’s nothing like the feeling you get when a story is published and I get to share something I created with thousands (hundreds? tens?) of readers out there.

There’s only one part of the process I really hate: the time spent waiting on feedback after the story has been polished enough to show to friends and critique partners, but before they get the chance to respond.

At this stage I call them “Schrodinger stories” because I don’t yet know if the story is alive or stillborn. It’s very difficult for any writer to evaluate the quality of their own work. Some of the pieces I think turned out brilliant get their heads bashed in during this round of feedback. There are clear problems, gaping holes in the plot, or trouble conveying what I want to convey to the reader.  Such stories may need lots more work, or even to end up in the “Come back to this one day later. Much later” pile.  On the other hand, there are stories I don’t have as much confidence in that sometimes come back with better reviews than I expected. Arguably my two strongest flash fiction stories published to date are “Spidersong” and “Nuclear Family” — both were written in one sitting, and both were stories I felt somewhat skeptical about upon finishing them.

The smart thing to do would be to move on to the next project, but I find it difficult to do so until I finalize the current work-in-progress and get it out on submission. So I usually find other things to do — editing, critiquing, and writing blog posts, to while away the time.

Can you guess what stage my latest story is in, presently? 🙂



One Response to Schrodinger’s Story

  1. simonkewin says:

    Yes, I’m with you on that, Alex. Fortunately I find I generally can move on to the next thing while waiting, which helps a bit.

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