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The Rewrite Road

Posted on | May 19, 2014 | 3 Comments

Words slipped, slick and easy, nearly effortlessly, from deep inside me to the outer banks of my mind. They rolled off my fingertips and onto the computer screen. I had achieved true Flash Fiction–a full, lush story, ripe with emotion, told with a poetic bent — and all under 500 words. Way under. Try word count 471. I thought it was pretty good. I ran it by the BigRig group, intrepid, talented, and oft published critique buddies. Their response was gratifying. Submit this, my heart sang, and off it went.

Via email I crowed, “Submission accepted,” when I got the news. I settled down to await comments from the assigned editor. His response didn’t take long. The email shot into my inbox; a paragraph of praise. “You have written a complete Flash Fiction. One of my favorites,” he wrote. And then, “I have a few comments,” followed by a multicolored map of rewrite notes, and unwelcome ideas that overwhelmed me. The mix was barely readable. He ended his missive with, “take as many or as few of my suggestions as you wish.” Talk about double messages. I scowled, and went to bed mumbling all sorts of loathsome things about editors.

However, with the dawning of a new day, I contemplated the most significant remark he’d made and wondered what might come of tackling it. I glued myself to the computer, compulsively reading the online thesaurus, realigning paragraphs, changing sentences. Ripping things up, down, and around, I forced the first version to submit to my will, determined to meet the challenge he had laid down.

Several days later I had a story with a different heartbeat. The BigRigs were suitably impressed. Back to my computer I went, addressing several word choice issues, tweaking a sentence here and there. Finally, satisfied, I phoned the editor.

“I was a bit taken aback and confused when I received your input,” I said, laying bare my angst. I told him about focusing in on one particular suggestion he’d made, and the effort put in to address it.

“Oh… he responded, obviously surprised. “Well, it was a fine piece just as submitted. Your story was definitely my favorite. It really didn’t need rewriting, I just felt I had to say something,” he told me, sounding rather contrite.

What? I couldn’t believe it. “Thank you,” I mumbled into the phone, thinking of the waiting stack of novel chapters still sitting, in true need of rewrite attention. Meanwhile, my author ego did the mambo. Celebrate! The story in its first version had been good enough!

To tell the truth, I have a soft spot for the original submission, but the rewrite is stronger It’s edgier and has a few extra words. I’m sending it off to the editor tomorrow. Lord, I hope I don’t get another email.

UPDATE: I did get another email, telling me he sent the piece straight to the publisher


3 Responses to “The Rewrite Road”

  1. Arletta Dawdy
    May 21st, 2015 @ 1:15 am

    Hi Patrice,
    It was lovely to talk with you Sunday and I hope to make it to your reading this coming Saturday. After reading your blog, I found “Rescue by Hillside” in the latest Redwood Writers anthology, WATER. It is a harrowing tale of justice and payback, so intensely written. It made me wonder how the other version read for this one is so tightly constructed and satisfying. 5/20/2015

  2. Manager
    May 21st, 2015 @ 6:01 pm

    Thank you Arletta. I hope to entertain you on the 23rd of May, with a chapter from my soon-to-publish novel. It’s gratifying to hear that Rescue by Hillside was an enjoyable read for you.

  3. Manager
    February 10th, 2018 @ 3:02 pm

    Arletta, how nice to hear from you. A few simple edit suggestions did work well to pull the original story into the piece you read. As I am certain you know, that is often the case. Thanks so much for your comment and question. Take care. PH Garrett

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  • About

    My name is Patrice Garrett. I'm a writer harboring the soul of a cowgirl. I have a penchant for the Old West. I believe, as do many others, that I lived another life and experienced the California Gold Rush first hand. My first two novels reflect my connection with the era.
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