Writing Haven

By Erin MacLeod

Welcome to Writing Haven! Here I'm going to share short stories, answer questions, and keep everyone up to date on my writing and publication journey. Hope to see you in the comments!

  • Erin MacLeod

Moving Goalposts and Moving Houses

So, I'm finally all settled in. The wifi is back, I've got Two Steps From Hell playing softly in the background, and Layola is trying to climb on top of me as stealthily as a 55 lbs border collie/lab can. In other words, things are about as perfect for a writing session as can be.

Today I want to talk about goals, goalposts, and how they move. The things I wanted out of Haven have changed dramatically in the years since I started writing seriously and in ways I didn't notice at the time.

One of the greatest lessons I've learned over the course of my writing adventure is that I'll never be done. At first, I just wanted to reach the end, then I wanted to get the opinion of just one more beta reader, and now I've hired an editor. It has all been in pursuit of improving my writing, but the thing I needed to get there is always one step further than the step I've just taken. Suddenly, one more beta reader became two. A last go through to smooth out errors became an odyssey of correcting characterization, body language, and flow. I think the reason I hired an editor is to give myself a sense of 'you see, a professional likes your work. You can be done now.'

We'll see how that goes when I get Haven back in a few weeks.

I reached the end while I was still in college, but I'm not quite there yet. To me, the end is the place where I'm satisfied, where my writing gets to the point where I don't feel I can improve it anymore. I'm getting closer, but I still change things every time I go back.

And each time I thought I was almost done. Then the things I was shooting for changed and suddenly I had a lot more work to do. My editor might be the one who finally convinces me to stop, but she might also be what propels me into another endless round of edits before I finally force myself to stop.

My goals moved and, like the things I still have to pick up from my old apartment, things got left behind in the initial switch. I've got a beta reader that started reading back in April of 2018 who reads two chapters at a time that's unknowingly gone through three drafts. My dad is critiquing a print out I made him in 2017. Agents I queried back in 2016 that might be shocked at the difference between the manuscript now and what I sent there. There are whole scenes, character lines, and descriptions gone and added in that time that have changed in the time.

Moving goals isn't bad, but there comes a time when they need to be set in stone. Endlessly fiddling with the same scenes, words, and descriptions wears away at what made the story worth writing in the first place. I think I'm close to my goalpost and I hope that this time I'll have the confidence in myself and in my writing to let it stay where it is.

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