Sunday, March 12, 2006

A writer's sacrifices


I think it's a well-known fact that fiction writers are often asked to make changes to their work in order to get it published. I've always dreaded the moment when I would have to face the same ultimatum and make my decision: do I change what I've poured my heart and soul into, or do I withdraw my submission and walk away from the deal? As primarily a nonfiction writer, I haven't experienced this often, and when I have been asked to make changes, I've generally found that I'm not very attached to the material I originally wrote, anyway.

Although fiction is my main passion (and, sadly, one I am not able to pursue very often), I haven't had any of my stories published as of yet. I have ghostwritten several short stories, but nothing that I will be credited for. So it was quite exciting this morning to receive an email from a publication that I'd submitted a short story to: they want to publish the short story!

There is a catch, however: I have to significantly change the beginning of the story. At first, everything in me resisted: It was supposed to be that way! It's part of the story! I haven't submitted it to many places yet, so I can just keep trying - someone's bound to like it as it is! ... and so on. During all this, however, I was remembering in the back of my head the stereotype of the new writer that is too inflexible to make changes to their work, and as a result drives away all the publishers who would have been interested, never gets published, and ruins their career.

However, the more I thought about the changes the publication was requesting, the more I thought I could make it work: make the changes they needed in order to publish, while still maintaining my original intent. After all, there are an infinite number of ways to say something; I just have to make my way and their way match. Hey, they don't call it creative writing for nothing, right?

I guess in reality, it's about compromising, not sacrificing. :o)

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