I recently started listing my “trunked” stories beneath my progress bar. I want to take a moment to explain why.
Trunked stories are those stories that have been set aside by the author for whatever reason. Maybe publishers just weren’t interested. Maybe the writer identified a major flaw. Maybe the writer simply grew out of the story.
The reason I decided to start listing the stories I trunk is because I think new writers often don’t realize how frequently stories get trunked. They get this diehard mentality that they must push a story through every venue all the way down to the “pay us and we’ll publish it” vendors. Personally, I think this mentality handicaps writers. While it builds a thick skin for rejections, it also deadens these writers’ literary palettes and blinds them to their personal progress.
Not all stories get published. Not all stories deserve to get published.
Take my story, “Cascading Stones,” for example. It’s been rejected eight times from pro and semi-pro paying venues. I thought it was a fun story. It got an HM from WOTF. Why wasn’t it even garnering personal rejections? I started thinking maybe it just lacked originality. Recently, however, I discovered the real problem.
I’ve been endeavoring to learn more about writing female protagonists. You can read that post here. Well, “Cascading Stones” features a female protagonist.
And I failed to write her well.
From my research, it became painfully obvious I’d slipped into one of the prevalent female stereotypes. With that glaring flaw now identified, I have no desire or need to submit this story to other venues. I know why it’s getting rejected, and honestly, even if I found a venue that would accept it, I couldn’t in good conscious allow it to be published with this flaw. It would an offense to women and beneath my writing dignity. (How’s that for sounding all snooty?)
Seriously, though. As I writer, I take my responsibility toward readers very seriously. What I write either consciously or subconsciously influences their worldviews. At times, there may be unintentional slips in my writing–I’m not Jesus–but I’m sure as heck not going to intentionally publish something that undermines what I believe in.
Now, that doesn’t mean that “Cascading Stones” is done for. I have other plans for this piece, but I don’t have time right now to pursue them. Thus, the Trunk.
The reason I’m divulging the contents of my Trunk though, is this. I want other writers to know–and to remind myself–it’s okay to retire a piece. The Trunk is not the Black Abyss. Not only that, but writers have to trunk stories often. For every piece that gets published, there are many that do not.
So, that Trunk list is a reminder to myself, and anyone else:
A flawed piece is not a failed piece, but the next piece is much more important.