A story is finished when those whitecaps on the horizon are rendered in spectravision

When is a story finished?*

The answer comes after cognitive distance is achieved. A long walk. A ride on the bus. Drunkenness. Sobriety. Adventures in the second person. Misadventures.

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.

Collate.

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.

Mirrors, too.

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.

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