When is a story finished?*
The quiet return.
The answer is in the feedback. If the local workshop and circle of trusted writerly readers are not forthcoming, there are other paths. Anyone willing to read a draft, especially an early one, is a harbinger. Harbingers deserve to be lent at least one ear. Rejections that come with feedback are gold.
The answer is in the beginning and end: soundness, roundness, polish. The impulse to get a thing out the door can be a false flag. Literary gatekeepers can wait, might prefer it. Fearless itineraries are useful things.
I am no saint. For those stories I have been fortunate enough to publish, I sipped the punch until my Pimm’s cup was empty. When I started to feel it, my vision grew clearer, the Laguna Mountains were sharp on the eastern horizon. Snowcapped, for once. Within a day’s reach.
And even then I wasn’t sure.
This post was inspired by a most welcome suggestion from Trish Harris.