At various points in their careers every artist, and probably everyone with an assignment or presentation to hand in, will ask themselves this question and it’s just hit me (again) because I have a story all ready to roll out to the world. I’ve had it professionally edited and I’ve formatted it beautifully using HTML, ( a fun learning curve) so it looks better than a lot of ebooks I’ve read, and now I’m asking myself, is it good enough?
This is the quandary of any author whose work hasn’t been picked up by a publisher. In this case, because we’re talking about one short story, I haven’t even submitted it, because no one publishes one short story. An anthology of short stories is coming next and I’m not submitting that to anyone either because no one publishes anthologies of short stories by new authors.
So, how do you know if your work is good enough? Answer – show it to people who will know. Seven people have looked at the anthology and every one of them has enjoyed them and agreed that they are good enough to publish. The three professional editors were very enthusiastic, particularly about my philosophical ‘voice’ in the stories. (I didn’t think they were that good, so it was a nice surprise.) I have no qualms about the anthology, because there’s enough stories in it to give a good feel for my work and to represent it well.
But the one story that I’m going to use as a taster for the anthology has to try to do all of this on its own. That’s a big ask in eighteen pages. That’s why I’m asking myself if it’s good enough? Not, is it good enough to publish, it definitely is, but is it the best story to use as a taster? Others agree that it is, because it will appeal to the widest audience, but I’m also asking, does it represent the best of what I have to offer.
The idea of publishing the single story is to get readers interested in my work, so they’ll buy the anthology, and hopefully that will get them even more interested, so that when my novella comes out (which I actually think is pretty good), I’ll have people ready to buy it. But what if this taster give readers the wrong impression? What if readers go, ‘blah’? What if they don’t want to read anything else I might write? Then the whole thing has backfired. Eek!
This story, ‘The Drorgon Slayer’s Choice’ does represent my writing in that it has action, romance, humour and a philosophical element (though it’s light) but it doesn’t deal with the themes in the deeper way that my longer works do, so anyone wanting something with a bit more meat won’t find it. Of course, no short story can go deeply into anything so that shouldn’t be a problem. So why am I still asking this question?
It’s me. It’s my habitual lack of confidence. I’m finding it hard to believe that this story might be good enough to make people want to read more in a market that’s flooded with good books. The only thing that would make my work stand out is that it questions our concepts about the nature of reality, but this story (and all of them when viewed individually) only hints at this. So, will it grab those who will be my devoted readers, those who will find the concepts I work with fascinating? That’s what I’d like to happen and the truth is I’m scared I might fail.
I wrote a post called ‘What are you waiting for’ over at my Happy Honkers blog; it looks at the fear of failure, which affects most of us at one time or another. If you read that, you’ll know why I’m going to proceed with the plan anyway. If I don’t do this, I will always wonder what would have happened if I had, and if I do it and it falls flat on its face, at least I will have tried.
What do you think?
Richard W Scott says
I think many of us share your case of IsItGoodEnoughItis. Perhaps, though, it isn’t because the current piece is bad (or even “not good enough”), but because you know you aren’t through growing yet.
I believe that today’s story must always be better than yesterday’s, but knowing that shouldn’t keep you from getting out in the world.
Tahlia Newland says
True, and the story I just wrote to add to the anthology is one I really love, but even stranger than the others – it really is magical realism.
Jacqui Murray says
I’ve never heard any writer with a good answer for that question. Some say they stop revising when it’s published. Some, not even then. Me, I have no idea how to answer!
Tahlia Newland says
I guess the readers have to answer it for us.