It took me many years to realize that my writing talent wasn't going to miraculously produce a writing career, if baked at the right temperature in the oven of time.
So I started writing, for real.
I quickly realized that the work I was producing was in most cases good, but not quite good enough.
So I started editing, for real.
I published a short book of stories, and some stories and poems in magazines. I did a lot of readings and even a few signings. I got reviewed, favorably.
But I'm still learning the second lesson. Still learning it, like TODAY I'm still learning it.
I edit my work, usually between 3 and 5 drafts before I send it out. But at times I feel the piece could be better, could be stronger.
I send it out anyway.
Why? The answers aren't pretty.
This week I tore through The First Five Pages, a book about staying out of the rejection pile. It's unusual for me to read a writer's guide of any kind, but it was recommended by a friend, and I was curious. Much of it was dismayingly basic (don't send a soiled manuscript) but other parts hit home: the book goes into tone, into characterization, into focus.
With every section, I thought of my work. Mainly, I thought of the novel I'm writing, and I felt good. Then I thought of some of the stories I have sent out, and I felt...something further away from good.
Here's the biscuit: even with thorough editing, it is difficult to see the weaknesses in my own work, and this book's examples of how writing can be made stronger have resonated with my own sense of what's not working in some stories. It made me want to rush home and edit those stories, or at least review them with the book's points in mind.
I've had successes in this game, and many rejections, and I'm still learning. I don't quite qualify as an OD, so I should have no trouble learning NTs.