Works of Art Are Never Finished…

Only abandoned.

Here’s me, about nine months ago, talking about a work-in-progress called Cowboys and Indians.

I think it needs one more going over, and maybe the final section needs a little tweaking, but I think this one is almost ready to go out into the world, and I’m really happy about that.

It may not surprise you to know that I turned out to be wrong, and that Cowboys and Indians has been significantly revised at least twice in the intervening months.

The story itself is set, at least.  I know what happens when and why and to whom.  And I thought I had it all pretty well figured out, until I showed it to a friend I was trading crits with, who had this to say:

To be totally honest, when I first started reading I was worried what I would say because the first two sections really feel like info dump to me.  I know much of it is world and character building, but those first two sections had none of the life or interest that the rest of the story has… [The beginning of the third section] was the first moment I wanted to really know what happens next.  It was also the first time I felt connected to the characters.  It felt to me almost like a new story began.

The first two sections are somewhere in the neighborhood of 1700 words between them, or almost a quarter of the story.  If I had a name, that might be okay, since there would be a reservoir of good faith that I knew what I was doing that might get a slush reader to the point where things started happening.  But I don’t have a name, and even if I did, that’s a big leap to ask someone to make with their precious, finite reading time.

The problem, of course, is that I feel like I need to do a lot of world- and character-building.  In fact, I’m already afraid that a lot of the really fun, cool background stuff is buried too deeply and not apparent to the reader.  I have even toyed with the idea that the story needs to be longer, even though all writerly wisdom gravitates against it.

At any rate, I have (again) significantly revised the beginning, hopefully injecting a little more in the way of narrative movement, though I have some worries that some important things have fallen by the wayside.  Of course I’m not really sure what they are, since I’ve been too close for too long to this story to have any kind of real perspective (I have even worried, and still do, that the whole thing is fatally flawed, no matter how slick the eventual execution).

Still, for reasons mentioned in the previous post about Cowboys and Indians, this story is pretty near and dear to me.  And I’m going to keep tweaking it until it’s done, or, rather, I am comfortable abandoning it to the tender mercies of the short fiction markets.

Speaking of which, I’d probably better get back to work.

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