Guinevere was the first short story I ever wrote. Before it, I’d already pumped out two pretty awful novels that I love to my deepest core but that will never see the light of day, but something about writing a short story was very intimidating to me. I’d wanted to tell Guinevere’s story for a long time, but I never thought a short story would give me the room to do it. She’s a legend, literally, and there’s no way I could cover all of her in only a couple thousand words. But I couldn’t come up with enough of a story to take up a novel’s worth. So her story sat on the back burner in my mind, waiting to be written.
Luckily something came a long that gave me the push I needed: a deadline and peer pressure. I was taking my first creative writing class at the University of North Texas and needed something to turn in. The only story I had ready was Guinevere's, and everyone in my workshop was turning in such wonderful works and I knew anything that I came up with last minute wouldn’t hold up against theirs. I get competitive in workshops, which is exactly what you’re not supposed to do, but I can’t help it. I wanted to write the best story of the course, and the best in me was the story I’d been sitting on for almost a year.
I forced myself to sit down and outline it as a short story, and then I stayed up all night pounding out a first draft that I hated, as we all do with our first drafts. I revised. I rewrote. I made it better. I turned in something I wasn’t proud of. I got good feedback from talented classmates. I revised. I rewrote. Rinse and repeat.
I could go into the grueling submission process I went through after that, but it would look pretty similar. Writing is about creativity and inspiration and character and all of that, but all of that is worthless without discipline. I needed outside forces to get me started on that path, but after I found it I was able to discipline myself.
Writing is hard work, but for us that commit to it, it’s work worth doing. Even the hard parts. Guinevere taught me that.
Thanks, Amelia! Very interesting!
Be sure to read "Guinevere" and the rest of our stories tomorrow, in the fabulous February 28, 2019 issue of Electric Spec!