I Wish I could be Traveling right now

I can’t travel right now though. I’m supposed to be staying in St. Louis at least until the end of May 2014. Hopefully, there are no sudden issues with my graduating in the spring. I just need to finish up my BA in German with a minor in English and a professional writing certificate, then I can go on to either an internship abroad or teaching English in Europe. I’m working on a blog about Czech beer for my Special Topics in Writing: Writing in the Professional World course. I figured if I am qualified to talk about anything in Czech Republic, I am most qualified to talk about its beer, since beer is cheaper than water there. (Although, I probably drank far more coffee, cappuccino, and espresso during my year in Brno than I did beer. . .another beverage that I miss and makes me feel nostalgic about my time there.) So here I am, sitting around avoiding biology homework and feeling nostalgic for Czech beer and sights.

You can check out the beer blog here.

At least, I am working on my book again. I keep thinking that it would be easier to work on my book in Czech Republic because I require Czech sources for it, since it is partially set in Czech Republic, and partially set in Austria. But when I took over the first 30 typed Word pages to work on in Brno, I found myself preferring to focus on short stories instead. (And then during winter holiday break while I was in Norway visiting friends, all I wanted to do was work on the rewrite of my on-going fantasy project–the first draft of that, I wrote during my exchange year in Austria 2010-2011.) I am such a fickle writer. I’ve tried getting my priorities straight, but my mind doesn’t seem to want to do that. I rebel against myself. I tell myself that I must work on Mind Terrorist and my mind says, “No.” Or, I tell myself that I must work on biology homework and my mind says, “No. I want to work on Mind Terrorist.”

Maybe if a miracle occurs, by the next blog update on my main blog I will have my priorities straight. But that’s highly unlikely. My boyfriend is visiting during holiday break, and I envision that I won’t be able to get on here and update (because I’m working on the Czech beer blog for a class this semester and the last post for that will be in December, and I am also going to be translating two new interviews for my metal in translation blog). But my boyfriend will be visiting here around that time from Czech Republic. Well, he should be. . .


My Blog was Nominated for the Liebster Award! (Part I: Shout-out to Writing Gallery and Q&A)

Due to my hectic schedule and infrequent posts on here though, I haven’t been able to respond to that nomination in a timely manner. I feel a bit guilty that someone thought of me and wanted to recognize my blog, and that I haven’t been able to respond. My requirements I must fulfill for the award will be broken up into two posts. The second post will cover my four nominations for the Liebster Award and my questions. This post though, will cover the first two requirements.

I was nominated for this award by Writing Gallery, who runs her blog mostly just to practice English, being a non-native speaker, and speaks English already almost like a native speaker with very minimal exceptions. Popular topics she discusses are dealing with conflict and stress, improving one’s writing and foreign language skills (an interesting topic for me, because of my career interests). If you’re looking for a casual, laid back but well-done blog to read, you should check out Writing Gallery.

Here are the questions that Writing Gallery came up with for her nominees to answer.

1.) Iphone or Galaxy?

Neither. Due to Apple’s recent treatment of their employees in China and other countries outside of the U.S. and their massive price hikes and general unwillingness to help customers with Itunes related issues just because they don’t have a recently purchased apple device or this new Apple limited warranty service that you now have to pay extra for–although when I got my Ipod Nano it was included free for about 2 years–I haven’t bought any new Apple products in 5 years and won’t be. I don’t have a Galaxy either, but I have no issues with Samsung as a company. I actually have an Android Transform at the moment, but I’m due for an upgrade soon.

2.) What’s your favorite book?

Well, that is difficult to answer with just one title. Being a writer and a literary translator, I read a lot of books. Actually, I have a post from around February or March of this year that details some really good world literature that I hold dear to my heart. But, I won’t do the lazy thing and link to that–I’ll answer the question, with updated information, because I have read quite a lot since then. *Pulls up Goodreads page*

I read Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar once about every three years, so I guess you could say that there’s something about the prose and feelings in that book that cause me to return to it again and again. I also enjoy short story compilations and the journals and letters of Franz Kafka. I’ve read his most famous stories in both English and German, but the journals and some of his lesser known stories, I’ve read just in German. The complexity caused by the sheer length of his behemoth sentences provide me a good warm-up for translation projects. I’m also exploring the short stories of Anne Valente, a native of St. Louis, Missouri–where I am also from. I first read a short story from her in the online literary magazine, Memorious, and have been exploring the works accessible through her portfolio. I think she has a very interesting perspective.

As for whole books, other than The Bell Jar and selected short story compilations, I remember enjoying Edith Pattou’s East, Joanne Harris’ Runemarks–I need to get around to reading the sequel to that one of these days–Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices Series, and pretty much everything I’ve read by Libba Bray.

3.) What’s your dream job?

If I were answering this when I was thirteen, I would say guitarist of a death metal band. But having witnessed what that lifestyle does to professional musicians, I’ve since changed my mind. (I still love playing my guitar though and writing about it.) Now, my dream job is best-selling author. With the economic climate in the States though and the majority’s general disinterest in reading literature though, this dream is probably unachievable. I think I would just really like to get to a point in my life where I can just focus on my writing and have enough of a following that I can justify the ridiculous amount of time I put into writing, revising, editing, etc.

4.) What’s motivates you to write?

Dreams, my hectic emotions, really good books and writing, looming deadlines, finding lit. mags with intriguing themes that I would like to submit to.

5.) What’s your favorite dish (food)?

Also a very difficult question to answer with just one option. I have lived in three countries besides the U.S. and sure, those countries all have culturally similar dishes, but one dish you would find in Czech Republic for example originating in Czech would be called something else in Germany or Austria and made slightly differently. I also have traveled a lot and experiment in my kitchen to find healthy but delicious recipes. Well, I guess I am really missing my favorite Czech dish, svičková na smetaně, which is beef tenderloin in a creamy sauce served with flat, white bread dumplings (Knedliky). I also really like fishes served in various sauces with couscous or rice, Wiener Schnitzel and home-made potato salad, and anything with lots of spice, peppers, and tomatoes, or involving creative usage of avocados or pomegranate.

6.) What kind of sport do you like and why?

I don’t really like any sports. However, I did used to do ballet and pointe until I developed knee problems, and the amount of strength and conditioning and practice that goes into that rivals your typical sport, I think.

7.) Nature or urban life?

I’ve experienced both, although I have more experience with urban life. It depends on the city and country though. Like if I am living in Austria, I wouldn’t mind living out on the land in the Alps, surrounded by nature. But if I am living in Czech Republic, then give me the old, foreboding architecture of Prague any day. Brno is a runner-up just because they have awesome student life and people there are just really friendly.

8.) Who influenced you the most in your life?

I don’t know. There is no one person I want to be exactly like and when I was younger I didn’t have someone who fit the traditional definition of “role model”–someone who I would want to emulate. I had people I thought were cool and I respected because they dared to be themselves. I have the same still today, and so it is hard to say who has influenced me the most when the thing I hold most important in life is being yourself.

9.) Whose blog do you like to read every day?

Well, I don’t read blogs every day, which is why I lag behind in views and networking. I just don’t have the time during classes and when I am working and trying to save money while also trying to fit time in for catching up with my lengthy goodreads to-read list and working on my projects, while trying also to keep in touch with my closest friends on a regular basis. So I can’t name any names.

10.) What’s your favorite quote or saying?

I have a lot of quotes from Nietzsche and Kafka that I really love. But I am trying to focus on ones that do not have to do with religious or personal life philosophies that would potentially alienate people from me. I also don’t want to get preachy on this. So I will post this one from Kafka , addressed to Max Brod in a letter, that amused me:

“I usually solve problems by letting them devour me.”

I think it puts living with panic disorder in perspective as well. 

The part II post for the Liebster Award will be posted as soon as I gather my nominees. I fear that I may not be able to reach 10 though, given my limited time and how many people I know of who already have been nominated for this award or have more than 400 followers.








“Having too Many Ideas sometimes Equals Having no Ideas at all”

I’m kind of borrowing this topic from somebody else. Someone on helpmewrite.co posted this idea as something they would want to write, and I’ll totally support them and read their take on it when they write their version. But this statement is just so true to my personal experience as a writer–and in particular my experience with writing in the last 3 months. I feel like oftentimes I’m stuck because I have too many ideas and too many projects going. I think I’ve been going on and on about being split between my short story project, my novel “Mind Terrorist”, and my fantasy project. (Oh, and let’s not forget my scholarly project of translating a Belphegor Interview.) I wish I could multitask to the scale of being able to write multiple projects simultaneously.

People keep telling me I really need to prioritize to regain control of my writing project situation. Well, people, it’s harder for me than you think. I am genuinely trying to stick to the checklist I wrote last month (first priority: Mind Terrorist, second priority: short stories anthology, third priority: Fantasy project). But I have a new idea every day and writing it out is extremely enticing!

A lot of the time, I end up getting frustrating with my lack of an ability to concentrate (because I’m torn between two projects) and just mess around on Facebook or look for new blogs. The good news though, is that I wrote myself out of the predicament I was talking about yesterday in “Mind Terrorist”. The bad news is that I’m now suddenly also torn between writing another short story for my short story anthology and working on “Mind Terrorist”.

But what do you think? Do you think you can have too many ideas sometimes?

The Summer of Frustration: My Summer of Striving to Write Realistic Mental Illness, Professional first Translation Projects, and Getting Myself Interested in my own writing again

I feel like I’m stuck in a rut when it comes to my writing. I have to admit that I haven’t been able to move the plot line of Mind Terrorist forward because I just feel iffy about the scene I’m currently writing. In it, Lenore has wandered away from a bar and her friends and gotten herself lost in Prague. She gets picked up by the police in the city park and tries to evade arrest by running. (For those of you just passing by, I should mention that Lenore is no ordinary special flower. She’s just had a mental breakdown and is trekking through Europe intending to kill the man she believes is controlling her thoughts. Her friends know this and this is why the police were called.) I’m hesitant about finishing this scene, because afterwards I’m unsure where the story is going. I can’t decide if I want her to spend a night in jail or spend the night with her friends (who have become more pushy and less patient with her). It’s too early in the book for her to land in the hospital. I don’t want this to be a hospital novel, because I feel like the niche market for books about people struggling with mental illness is overpopulated by narrators in mental institutions and psych wards–I mean, that’s the most obvious place you’d look when you want to find people who are mentally ill. But the reality of the situation (and I’m more interested in my book being realistic and believable) is that the police would probably take her to the hospital, and the hospital would try to find a way to keep her since she is such an extreme danger to herself and others.

I’ve kind of switched gears this summer because of the frustration I’m having with the plot of Mind Terrorist. I’m finishing a translation project I started for a friend. My friend asked me to translate a few German language interviews with two bands we really like to English so that she could read the interview. I’m fortunate to be in contact with one of the interviewees, so if I have any uncertainties about his intended meaning of a statement or if I have trouble interpreting the mood of the conversation (the first and third parts are a round table discussion between three people), I can just run the question by him. Of course, I don’t want to irritate him–he is busy–but I am striving to translate it so that the original meaning and message of the articles are not lost. (That happens sometimes with more experienced translators, and since this is my first major translation project, I know I’m not a seasoned professional yet and I don’t want to mess it up!)

The other project I’ve switched gears to is a long-running fantasy project that I have no immediate plans to publish, but that I work on between major projects or when I’m feeling demotivated about my current project. This summer, I intend to hammer out one of the major details of my fantasy world: the fashion. Luckily, I found a doll designing template on http://www.dolldivine.com for the Showtime series, “The Tudors” that features gowns and clothing visually similar to what I envisioned for my fantasy series. Also, the template is not so strict that I have to make things exactly in the way that designers of that time period would have done them, it allows me to take various clothing details from the period and mix and match them into the kind of outfit I was envisioning. I feel like I’m wasting a lot of time doing this, but the clothing worn by my characters is a lot of the times important to the central plot. (For example, one of my female characters helps free another from the dungeons by switching clothes with her.) However, I need to minimize the amount of time I’m spending on Doll Divine making dolls, because I found myself spending the entire afternoon yesterday just making duplicate outfits for one of my characters for a certain part of the book when she is probably going to be in her nightgown about 70% of the time. I think my next mini-maintenance project for my fantasy novel will be sorting out my world’s religious practices and customs, because I’m finding this is another hole in my world that I can’t visualize through what I’ve already written.

So where do you think I should go with Mind Terrorist? I’d love to hear opinions from people in the comments, especially if they have any experience dealing with severely mentally ill people. My problem is that I don’t want the story to suddenly become unrealistic, but I also don’t want it to turn into a hospital novel. Confining Lenore to a hospital would halt the action of the story dead in its tracks.  But again, telling a realistic story is also very important to me!

The Kind of Dilemma that can only Arise from being Scatter-brained and unable to make a Decision

There’s a quote from Virginia Woolf that describes me very strongly:

It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything.” (from her diary on May 11th, 1920)

I’m in the doubt stage currently. I feel like if I could just get over my doubt of my current project and finish part II that I would go on writing parts III and IV smoothly and then the editing process could begin and I would finally have SOMETHING to show to publishers (that isn’t a teenager’s first attempt at figuring out how to construct a novel). But the more time I spend not focusing on my piece, the more my mind wanders and I begin to contemplate new projects. Also, I’m kind of risking damning myself anytime I attempt to write a short story. Thus far, half of my short story attempts in the past two years surpassed 12k words and could go even longer to form a novel. So I had to put the project on hold in favor of my current two projects.

This is what my workload looks like (concerning novels and compilations, I won’t even list the unfinished short stories sitting on/around/in my desk at the moment):

Mind Terrorist

Main Character/inspiration: Lenore, a voice of a character in my head who happened to be the loudest when it came time to write a short story for my Short Story writing course last spring.

Plot Synopsis: Lenore is an American expat living in Austria who is having a very serious breakdown. She is convinced that a specific man has found a way into her mind and found a way to control her thoughts and sexual desires and that he is seeing all of her thoughts. The problem is that she does not know who it is, and is suspicious of any man she comes across because even if they found a way to placate her and convince her that they are not the ones inside her mind, that this could just be another mind trick. Lenore, needing a holiday, is invited to spend the weekend partying with two musician friends in Prague and she accepts. But during the train ride through Austria to Prague, she realizes that perhaps it could be her friends who have been reaching into her thoughts.

Themes: Coping with sexual assault/rape, alcoholism, mental illness, mental illness and sexual trauma, travel, Central European culture and history

Status: I shopped this around in its original form as a short story. It was considered for 3 months to be printed by an American literary magazine, but in the end they declined it because they felt that the word count was too long to be a short story, and that the story needed to continue. When I turned it in to my teacher, she said basically the same thing. . .so here I am trying to finish this novel.

But doubt creeped in and I started a new project while I was dealing with writer’s block:

Short Story Compilation (“The Sea Monster’s Bride” and other Stories)

I found myself writing a lot about love and mental illness in the last six months, and aside from my novel, I’m beginning to move past this fixation. However, mental illness and love are and probably will always be recurring themes in my writing for personal reasons. This particular short story compilation has a focus on love within institutional settings between someone who society has deemed to be mentally ill and someone who isn’t but may be missing some important things. I would like to release it on smashwords, but I’d like to first get some of the stories published in literary magazines and therefore attract publicity and more public interest for the short story compilation in the first place.

Now, within this project I started writing a short story which takes place in a Victorian workhouse, and then later an asylum. The narrator has a romantic relationship with Satan (or she thinks she does) and this is why she is in an asylum. I’ve realized after rewriting it that this story could not be told in its entirety in just a short story, and that since she is in her late teens and I have the opportunity, I’d like to send her to a haunted finishing school in Scotland and extend her narrative into a book series. This is my Darling series, which I posted about earlier this week. Now, I have three projects going because I am still missing a short story since I’ve had to pull Darling from the compilation. Mind Terrorist only has 15,000 words, and I want it to at least have 30k. But these are just the projects I’ve started fairly recently.

During my time on Mibba two years ago, I completed an internet fantasy serial story. My readers on Mibba really liked it and I have been asked to expand each weekly section into a full chapter. I’ve been doing that since 2011, and have ended up splitting the book in half so that now there are two books–both from different points-of-view. The story line is done. The rough draft is written. I am just editing this now and going back and rewriting some passages so that they connect more smoothly and there are less plotholes. I even have an idea for the sequel to each of the points-of-view, a book that combines both by making one of my narrators have a bigger part in the life of the character who shall be narrating. But it’s a fantasy project: imaginary world, intricate religious and cultural beliefs, and a political system, and all. My senior year of college is not a good time to embark on such an endeavor. Though, I will admit that when I’m frustrated with Lenore and writing short stories and queries to literary magazines, I find myself editing my fantasy novel, designing costumes for my main characters, and even writing new scenes. This is a particularly bad habit for me, because it’s taking away from me time that I would be spending working on my projects that I’d like to get done before the end of 2014, when I’ve told myself that this fantasy novel could not reasonably be finished at least until 2016 if I put all my free time into it, and should just focus on one thing at a time.

But no, I don’t listen to myself. I’m too scatter-brained to listen to myself. There are too many voices inside of my mind for me to listen to, and as a result I’m having trouble picking which one I’m going to listen to when it comes to my writing projects.


Character Development for my Supernatural Fantasy Project

I am lacking in interesting real-life commentary at the moment, and also lacking in something to do (other than studying, but I feel like my head will explode if I continue to try to force myself to understand German morphology). I’ve just realized I missed the deadline for The First Line Literary Journal’s Summer issue

But I love the prompt. For those of you unfamiliar with The First Line Literary Journal, it’s an online publication which gives its authors a one-sentence writing prompt that they would like each issue (published quarterly) to be centered around. I will probably write something for the fall or winter issue and submit it. Now though, I want to play with the sentence for the upcoming issue. You are also welcome to do so. I am doing so, because I think it would be excellent for one of the characters, Colina, in my fantasy series, Darling, that I am still developing.

The prompt: “I started collecting secrets when I was just six years old.”

I started collecting secrets when I was just six years old. My mother was a chamber maid and always busy cleaning up after rich, young school girls in their pristine, plaid uniforms and at six years of age, I simply had become too big to follow my mother around without being a nuisance or creating some sort of larger mess. The Headmistress, Miss Pritchett, insisted that I either hide in the kitchens or in the help’s quarters.

You can imagine how boring it is for a six-year-old to have to sit in the corner of the kitchen all day, doing nothing so that she doesn’t get in the way and disrupt the natural order of things at the St. Agnes School for girls in Aberdeen. One day, I figured no one would notice if I happened to wander away for a little while–as long as I was back in time for Mum and I to have our dinner. The practically ancient building itself held many secrets just waiting to be discovered. I thought I was just the explorer to do so. I tip-toed from the kitchen, heart beating in my chest over the suspense of my being caught.

Day after day, my daily routine went like this. Mum and I would rise, wash ourselves, have breakfast with the other servants and children, and Mum would go off to her work either in the gardens or assisting in the dining rooms. She’d leave me in the kitchen and tell me to behave myself. I assured that I would. The maids in the kitchen even informed her that I hardly made a peep and it was as if I were not there. As soon as the coast was clear, I stood up from my place in the corner and continued on my adventures around the old school, which was once a convent.

If anyone knew the St. Agnes School for Girls well, it was me. By the age of 12, I had memorized all of the secret tunnels and passageways around the school and to where each tunnel led. Unfortunately though, by the age of 12 I had become just big enough and just smart enough that I could be counted on to start helping Mum in the gardens and dining rooms, and also helping in the kitchens. In my free time though, I continued to make use of the passageways, eventually attracting notice from the students in my teens. But most figured I was just another student who just happened to never wear a uniform. Yeah, I noticed there were a few rebel ladies over the years who didn’t care for the rules set forth by society for them, and who didn’t care to be told what to wear. The headmistress usually set them straight though, and if they weren’t set straight during their time here, chances are they were set straight when they returned back to their parents’ estates or manors in disgrace for unruly behavior. For this reason, I’ve never envied these rich girls. I had more freedom with my tunnels and my woolen articles than these properly primped future homemakers did.

How to Stay Creative and Passionate about your Writing despite Rejection or a Sudden Onset of Writer’s Block

I am by no means at the professional level at this point, but I do get a lot of compliments on how professionally written and well organized my short stories and writing is when I turn something in. I am a perfectionist, first of all. I don’t just wait until the end of a piece to edit, I edit as I go along in the rough draft. (Generally, I would advise against doing that though–especially if you are in a creative slump–because sometimes, I damn myself in the creative process by being too choosy with my words and thus causing myself to lose a thought that could have been literary “gold”.) My only critique of myself is that I wish I could I write more freely–you know–without holding back so much. But that is easier said than done for me, especially now, because I am writing a piece on self-editing. Anyway, now that the bad things are out of the way, I will explain to you what I think the good qualities of my self-editing and general writing technique are, and suggest (but don’t insist) that if you are having troubles organizing your writing or having your writing understood by your readers, that you try these suggestions.

(I will mention that I am extremely scatter-brained, so I keep track of this process by envisioning it in the form of a check list, so I will also share my process here in the form of a check list.)

The point within the piece I  would be at when I’d break out this list would be right after writing the last sentence of my rough draft. Generally, I tend to write my rough draft with pen on paper  in a bound journal or on loose-leaf notebook paper. (Journals are my favorite options, because they are portable and there’s no risk of losing pages, so if I am sitting in the cafe waiting for my boyfriend or a friend to meet me for coffee and I have an urge to write something then I can just take my journal out and get some work done on a story while I wait.)

1.) Shut the notebook or set aside the stack of papers and do something else that isn’t writing or writing-related for at least 20 minutes to an hour. Chances are, I’ve just spent 3 or so hours writing this story out–intensely debating whether or not to include a sentence, scratching boring words out and replacing them with better words, and pausing to re-read the paragraph or scene I’ve just written and deciding to add some more details to that scene in the liner notes. Constructing a mere rough draft for me is as intense as editing the final draft, if not more intense at times when I am unsure about where the direction of the story should go because I am writing based on a character’s voice which has been haunting me at random times of the day when I should be doing something else other than writing. After 3 hours of this vigorous self-doubt and creative process, I need a bit of a break before I come back to the project. I also like to clear my mind and approach it from a less hostile point-of-view when it comes time to re-write and turn the story into something publishable. Sometimes, I even wait a day or two before I return to the writing out of a lack of free time or just my not feeling the piece at the moment.

2.) Re-read, re-read, and re-read some more. I would suggest re-reading it 2 or 3 times. However, I sometimes end up re-reading a rough draft about 10-12 times and finding myself staring for large amounts of time at a particular scene that either bothers me or strikes me as the possible focal point of my story.

Concerning the scene that bothers you, you may be tempted to take it out. DON’T DO THAT. Don’t be too hasty. Let it stay there for a while, at least until the 2nd or 3rd re-write–and if you still don’t like it then, take it out of the document and put it aside for later. On one of those rainy days when you have the day off and feel like writing but have no ideas, you could always flip through some of these rejected scenes and find a way to re-work it into a new short story. I say, let a potentially unnecessary scene stick around in case you happen to find a way to re-work it and make it work better with your story. About 8 out of 10 times, I’ve found a way how to re-work a scene that was bothering me so that it actually added something to the story instead of being either redundant or irrelevant, and there have been very few occasions when I’ve had to completely scrap an unused scene or story fragment. Typically, they get turned into something different and better on one of those rainy days.

Concerning the scene that sticks out to you, I’d like you to take a special interest in that scene now, and keep it in mind when you start re-writing, particularly if you are writing a story that is intended to have a central theme. The subject matter or action of that scene just may be the theme you are looking for.

3.) Find your computer and open up a new word processing document. Start typing what you’ve just written, keeping a careful eye on what exactly you have written in your notebook/journal. Now would be a good time to work out where your liner notes and “carrots” should go in the story. This step would also be a good time to decide between the two adjectives you’ve written down to describe the hair of the woman who has entered the cafe and will end up being trouble for the narrator and other such sentences involving adjectives and descriptions.

4.) At this point, you should have a full story with a beginning, middle, and end typed in a word document. Hopefully, you were able to do this before the day ended. If not, well don’t fret. Typically, it takes me two or three sessions at the computer to type out my 1st formal draft. (Note: I consider a rough draft to be Draft 0, so the first draft to me would actually be the typed version of the rough draft including your liner notes and after-thoughts.) Now, this fourth step has a few micro-steps within it, so I will list the micro-steps individually. But they are all a part of the 4th check on my check list.

  • Re-read what you typed either earlier that day, the day before, week before, or however long you’ve waited between the 3rd and 4th steps. Never under-estimate the necessity to re-read your work multiple times. Your eyes and your brain do not always work perfectly in sync together every time you read something, and you may have missed a typo or a place where you accidentally hit the space bar twice or something. (Also, our brains tend to do a nifty thing where it will just fill in the missing letter of a word we may have mistyped subconsciously, without us even realizing that it did so.)
  • Try moving some sentences around if you find yourself confused or unsatisfied with the narrative of your story.  It could be that your second sentence might make an even better beginning sentence to your story.
  • Remove words, which don’t affect the meaning of the statement ,  that you see too much in the story (like “but”, “however”, “just”, “likely”, to name a few “problem” words I often come across when peer-editing other people’s work in writing workshops and writing courses). There are other better and more interesting words out there. Broaden your narration palette.
  • Look out for dangling modifiers and misleading use of pronouns! Sure, that particular description about a tussle between a Hungarian countess, two Austrian Ladies, and all of the Countess’ chamber maids may have made complete sense to you, because you can see it in your head. You dreamed it that Saturday night of the hiking trip to Čachtice where you envisioned such a situation taking place. But the description of the incident may involve the usage of far too many pronouns or far too many proper nouns. In cases like this, where you are looking for a perfect balance between pronouns and proper noun usage while at the same making sure that the description makes sense to your readers, it is a good thing to re-read and re-read and re-read, and maybe even send that section to a beta reader or two. In the writing workshops and peer-editing sessions I’ve participated, I nearly always encounter a draft that contains confusing pronoun usage in a complex scenario. It’s just something I would say definitely look out for, particularly if you are writing something with a lot of action.

5.) Final Re-read (at least, until I receive a response from a literary magazine 6 months later letting me know as a courtesy that it was rejected because it just wasn’t a “good enough fit” for the magazine): at this point, I will re-read what I’ve corrected and maybe continue to change some words around. A work is never really “perfect” or finished for me. I need to just stop myself at some point and force myself to move onto another project, because I have literally re-written a few narratives and short stories about 20 or so times. This happens to my stories that I have put in a massive amount of time, effort, and passion, and they have been rejected by numerous literary magazines. I would like to think that I’m getting better at rejection, but I feel like rejection is just making me more obsessive about my revision process.