The Importance of Writing Your Best Words
Wait. What? I read the first line again, just to make sure. I mean, 2007? But yes, six years ago, I sent a story out into the world and it landed on this editor’s desk. She’d liked it then, but the anthology that it was planned for hadn't materialized. Now, she was contacting me to include this same story in another anthology. Was I interested?
I was indeed interested. I’m always happy to have an opportunity at publication. But more than publication, I thought about the words we send out into the world and how important it is to always send out your best.
Of course, we know (or we should know by now) that when it comes to our words, they have a very long shelf life, thanks to modern technology. Whether it’s a comment on a blog post or a submission gathering electronic dust in a virtual file, it’s important to think about what we’re writing and how we write it.
Take a query, for example. It’s just a query, you say. Agents don’t even read those, you think. And that may be true. A polite, professional query may be quickly read and deleted, while a rushed, badly penned query blasted across the agent universe may get you noticed—as the example of what not to do—on an agent’s blog.
And then there are the articles, the stories, and the manuscripts, the words you've toiled over for days, months, and oftentimes, years. Resist the temptation to send out something that’s not quite ready. You know the kind of temptation I’m talking about. The midnight deadline for a themed anthology or contest where you’re working right up to the last minute. Or the deadline on a conference submission opportunity where you’re down to the last possible day. Your words are so close and you think, “It’s good enough.” And you want to click on SEND because you've worked so very hard. But sometimes, the hard part is sitting on writing that’s not good enough—yet.
It will be good enough, some day. Keep working, and make your words the best you can write before you send them out into the world. And success, even if it’s six years later, is sure to follow!
P.S. The anthology where you might see my story included is one of Publishing Syndicate’s Not Your Mother’s Books. They have a ton of titles still open for submissions, and they’re keen on getting as many writers as possible published. Send your best words and see what happens!
~Cathy C. Hall