Short stories old and new

IWSG_NewBadge2016It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
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The March 2017 question: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

My answer: Yes to both questions. I frequently recycle old ideas that didn’t work out at the time, but this was a complete story. It was one of my first written stories. My submission database shows that I started submitting it in 2004. I kept at it for several years, but nobody accepted it for publication. After a while – I was probably improving as a writer – I realized that all the editors were right: the story didn’t work. So I dropped it. But the idea and the protagonist stayed with me.

cover_vincentvangogh2Last year, I decided to give them another go. I completely rewrote the story, leaving maybe 10% of the original text in, probably even less. I altered the main conflict and changed the ending. And started submitting the new incarnation under a new title, Flower Consultant. It’s a humorous sci-fi story. This time, it got accepted on the second try. It was published in Aurora Wolf last summer. Here it is.
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Continuing the theme of old stories: I’m running out of short stories to submit. Of the bunch of stories I wrote in 2015 and 2016, only 5 are still making submission rounds. The rest found homes in magazines or anthologies. I have 2 fantasy stories left, both written originally for specific anthologies, although neither made the cut. I also have one sci-fi story still homeless and 2 magic realism stories.

The sci-fi is a surprise. It is a solid story, and I was sure it would be one of the first to get accepted. Strangely, it was not. The magic realism is a different matter. I doubt either of them would be published by any American or Canadian magazine. They are too… alien, I suppose, for the English speaking readers. Both take place in Russia during the WWII. Both deal with uncomfortable subjects. I might cave in, stop submitting them, and publish them myself on wattpad.

That brings me to the gist of my post. I have a few more old stories on my computer. Some I started but never finished. Others are just undeveloped ideas. Perhaps I should do something productive about some of them. After all, I enjoy writing short stories and have a fairly high success rate with their magazine publication route. About 99%. I only truly ever abandoned one story, the very first one I ever wrote. I don’t think any amount of rewriting would resurrect that ugly baby, but we all fail sometimes. That’s how we learn, right?

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25 Responses to Short stories old and new

  1. Patsy says:

    99% success rate? Wow! I’m so impressed I’ve totally forgotten what I was going to say about the rest of your post!

  2. Loni Townsend says:

    It sounds like you’re far more productive than I am! I’ve had trouble finishing my stuff. 🙂

  3. Well done on having all those stories accepted/published! I’ve got a few stories I’d like to revise and lots of scraps of ideas that need to be developed. Now let’s get cracking on some new stories. 🙂

  4. Misha says:

    I’m like you. I have resurrected all of my old stories already, save for one, which I will never work on again. 🙂

  5. It’s not a failure if you learned from the experience. =) Definitely write more short stories if you can get them published! Why not?

  6. Hi, Olga. That’s an interesting question for a writer: when do you give up on submitting a story and just publish it yourself? I think my first novel will only see the light of day in that way, but I’m pretty sure that people who work in the industry where it’s set would buy it and enjoy it. Hmm. It’s a decision I’ll postpone.
    Congratulations on selling so many short stories!

  7. Carrie-Anne says:

    You’ve got a marvellous publication success rate!

    Learning from old stories is a very good education in our evolution as writers. It can help us to understand what we did wrong all those years ago, particularly when compared against our current writing. We also can’t be too hard on our past writing selves, since we genuinely didn’t know any better.

  8. Erika Beebe says:

    I was right there with you with my first manuscript. I believed it was really great. But now I know it was far from ready. I am really excited for you Olga and all your stories and all your successes. I bet you keep climbing up 🙂

  9. Your book’s journey was similar to mine.
    You’ve had some great success with short stories. Might be worth it to revisit those older ones.

  10. Juneta says:

    Congratulations that is awesome. Great post. Love the story.
    Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit

  11. Donna L Hole says:

    Try FictionMagazines at http://www.fictionmagazines.com/ and Bewildering Stories. Both ezines specialize in weirdness. They are not paying publications though.

    Awesome that you have published so many of your short stories. I need to pull a few out that are story starts and work on them, or that have been rejected by their intended anthologies. I’m a seriously lazy writer.

  12. patgarcia says:

    Hello Olga,
    You are so encouraging to me. I am in the process of revising and reworking all my short stories and will start submitting them this month. My writing craft has improved and for some reason that I don’t want to explain here, I know it is time to send some of these babies out. Reading your IWSG article this morning has confirmed that which is within me.
    Thank you so much and all the best.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat

  13. Wow – a 99% success rate! That’s amazing. You sound like a very focused writer, not to mention submitter. I’d love to get to a point where I have a whole stable of short stories to submit to various publications. So many that I’d need my own tracker 🙂

  14. lexacain says:

    It’s wonderful that your rewritten version of the story got accepted so quickly! Good luck on the ones that are left. One of the nice things about publishing now is that you have so many choices, like Wattpad!

  15. WOW, 99% so cool! Not surprised though, you’re an excellent writer / artist!
    Congratulations!

  16. Nicki Elson says:

    Congrats on all the successes with your stories!

  17. I loved reading how you revamped that story and succeeded in getting it published! Also thanks for your suggestions on my story. I appreciated the ideas.

  18. spunkonastick says:

    Sometimes niche stories are hard to place. Or ones central to a location other than America. Self-pubbing them might be your best bet.

  19. Wow! 99% is awesome! Way to go!
    I re-use some old stories and I stick a few of them away, although I never trash them so they may come out at an even later date.
    Best wishes with your Russian stories – they sound interesting to me.

  20. I hopped over to Aurora Wolf and read your story – so much fun and so well-written.

  21. Wow, your success rate is AWESOME! I’, gonna use that for some personal encouragement.up until recently i really disliked writing shirt stories. I was told I should work on a few, as having a restricted word cou would tighten up my writing.Dang, if that isn’t the truth.Now, I find I really enjoy the challenge.

  22. Jen says:

    This post is so encouraging. You have such a high success rate! You really inspire me to work hard and get my stories out there. I have a slew of ideas and partially finished works; health challenges make it tough and I have to divvy up my time right now towards things I’d rather give up. But the stories are still there and I thank you for sharing this! I think it’s wonderful that you were wise enough to revisit those old stories and cut out what didn’t work. It’s scary and difficult to do that! Cheers!

  23. Arlee Bird says:

    Sounds like you’re doing something the right way with your older stories. Tweaking and reworking should eventually result in something useful even if only being incorporated into a part of something larger or different. You sound like an example for the rest of us to follow.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  24. ChrysFey says:

    A 99% success rate? You are a short story warrior. My success rate for short stories was…2%. HAHA I’m glad you rewrote your book. Your hard work clearly paid off. 🙂

  25. That’s an incredible success rate. Good for you!

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