Today I got a copy of the anthology, Dead Worlds: Undead Stories, A Zombie Anthology, Volume 5.
This book contains a wealth of raw, deadly, zombie excitement and I’m pleased to have my short story, “On the Rocks”, in this collection of tales of the walking dead. I’m not really sure what prompted me to write a zombie story considering the novel I’m working on falls clearly into the fantasy genre. However, when I was a kid and would write short stories for the pure fun of it, without worrying about publishing or agents or editors, the zombie story was a tried and true favorite.
As I sat back and flipped through the book to see how the story turned out in print, it took all of 10 seconds before I started burning the pages with a laser-focused eye of criticism. I noticed every single edit failure. I noticed where I should have changed a phrase, where the dialogue was awkward, where some of the descriptions were just plain absurd. There are also some whitespace problems with the printed edition, and I’m pretty sure they came from my RTF file (yes folks, I hate MS Word as though it is my very own antagonist – always getting between me and my goals!).
The normal, human side of me can look at the story and think, “Say, that’s a pretty cool story about creating zombies with a computer virus!”. However, that part of me is usually very suppressed. I rarely let him come out and play. I’m sure all authors are like this – you spend what seems like an eternity editing a piece, you submit it, and then when you finally get to see it in print, its like someone has taken a big bold highlighter to everything you should have changed before you submitted it.
My personal take-away from this: After I think the piece is ready to submit, I’m going to leave it on disk and walk away for at least three days. Then, I will come back to it and edit it one more time. Then, I will walk away for one more day, then come back and edit it again. Remember, all of these revisions are after I think the piece is print-worthy and has been through the usual multi-round editing phases.
I’m not trying to trash the story, I’m really pleased that it has been published and am excited to produce more short stories for other venues and other genres, but I have learned a valuable lesson that what I think has been edited enough has at least 3 more revisions before it’s ready to be submitted. The other lesson I have learned is that no matter how good my story is, I will always find fault with it and I just need to learn to accept that.
Anyway, I hope you buy the book and enjoy the story!