Writing a story begins with a choice. What does the writer-in-me want to tell? That is balanced with the question, “What does the target audience want to read?”
I’ve made a lot of good choices in my life—and a few that didn’t reach that level. Some of those decisions shaped me like homemade playdough in the hands of a preschooler. I was punched, squeezed, rolled, and manipulated. Just when I thought I had reached my destiny, slam, bam. More pounding.
Julaina Kleist-Corwin, a writing instructor, gathered short stories about choices for an anthology. She extended the competition to former students and writers who had been published in her previous anthology. She read each 500-word submission and suggested changes. No pounding, punching, or squeezing. Then the writers were given the opportunity to reshape their stories. Most were memoirs. A few were fictionalized.
My memoir, “Second Chance,” is about my submission to an anthology being published by a well-known New York publisher. The book theme was true stories about Christmas miracles. No problem there. I had a story to tell. I submitted it. Hooray! It was accepted with minor suggested edits. The congratulatory email said the next step would be to sign a publisher release form. I waited a few days. No form. Instead, an email suggested I revise my story. Playdough again.
“But that isn’t what happened,” I wrote to the developmental editor. She gently rolled my story into shape to keep the facts and told me to sign the forthcoming release.
Two days before the deadline to sign the release, I received an email from the main editor, the one whose name would appear on the book cover. He added more fiction. “It makes a stronger story,” he said.
Slam, bam. Playdough. Only this time, I had a choice. Accept the change or insist on keeping the story as I wrote it.
What did I decide? Read about it in The Choice Matters.
Disclaimer: Julaina doesn’t know I’m including her Amazon book link in my blog, but I’m sure she’ll be delighted. The print edition and e-book are on sale at introductory prices.