When Is It Time to Get a New Pair of Pants?

The other day I contemplated my sparse wardrobe. What sparked this contemplation? The fact that I was about to walk out the door and noticed that the pants I wore had a hole in the inner thigh. Whoops. See, this comes from dressing in the dark again. A bad habit. I had to back in the door and get out the sewing kit.

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Um . . . I don’t wear pants like this!

Back in my undergraduate days, I would have walked out the door uncaring. But now that I’m a professional, well, it’s just not done for me to go to the grocery store with a big ol’ hole in my pants.

So, when is it time to get a new pair of pants? The answer might seem like a no brainer to you. But when you’re on a limited budget, the answer is not as clear cut. I have to ask myself, Can I afford to buy a new pair? Can I make the old pair last by repairing them? But the pants are starting to look like Frankenstein’s monster with crooked stitches on top of crooked stitches—the results of past repair jobs.

By now you’re wondering what on earth I’m going on about. Pants? Who cares, right? But I can’t help likening my pants predicament to a writing project, since I’m a pantser (heh heh). See, I’m working on a short story to submit for inclusion (hopefully) in an anthology. The short story form is especially challenging for me. If you read “The Arf Thing,” you know that Val Howlett excels at it, and works hard at her craft. She discussed her work ethic here. And fellow blogger Phillip McCollum is another advocate of the short story, as you can see if you read his blog.

Two years ago, I wrote a short story that I’m now revising. I didn’t want to submit it with a big ol’ plothole in it. The problem, a friend pointed out, is the lack of a clear story arc. But yesterday, as I wrote and rewrote, I wondered, Am I sewing crooked stitches on top of crooked stitches as I fix this story? I was sorely tempted to bail on the story.

So, today I ask myself, (1) Am I content to whine about how much better at short stories writers like Val and Phillip are? (2) Have I really put forth my best effort into making the arc of the story clear? (3) If I have, and the story still isn’t working, is there a better story for me to work on? In other words, Is it time for a new pair of pants? I can tell you the answers: (1) Normally, yes, but I’m trying to get over that. (2) No. (3) No.

I chose this story over another, because the other story was a discarded chapter in a book that I thought I could pass off as a short story. Ha, ha! A definite no-no according to the submission rules! The story I’m working on actually is a short story. So, heigh ho, heigh ho, it’s back to work (on that story) I go. One thing I’ve learned from Val’s example: don’t shirk hard work. (Hey, that rhymes!)

How do you know when it’s time to get a new pair of pants?

Pants from easleys.com.

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29 thoughts on “When Is It Time to Get a New Pair of Pants?

    • Thanks, Sandra! The old me would have given up and run out to Starbucks for a mocha. The new me still wants a mocha, but can’t afford it, so I’ll fix my pants instead. If that makes any sense. . . .

  1. Holy pants batman! Good job I have a plot fixing spray on my utility belt. I was told that if there’s something wrong with the middle, it’s because I haven’t set it up in the beginning. And if there’s something wrong with the end, it’s because there’s something missing in the middle. So the tiny holes form at the start and just grow as we stretch the fabric of the story.
    Sometimes a stitch in time, really does save nine.

    • You know, if I just copy your comment and paste it on my story, maybe they’ll take my story!!! Eloquently put! You have such a variety of writing experiences. This is probably old hat to you.

      As you astutely surmised, there is something wrong with the beginning of the story. The middle’s a bit dodgy. I’m finally getting to a beginning that I’m satisfied with.

  2. Ha, ha, I dress in the dark as well. Made it to work once with mismatched socks, another time with my shirt on inside out. Yeah. So, um, right there with you.

    I’m in the midst of a short story aimed at an anthology as well. Shorts have always been tough for me. To help myself I read other anthologies, and I watch 1/2 hour shows. A short story is a lot like a sitcom — very little time to tell the tale. It can’t be super involved or have tons of characters, but must be engaging and tell some event. Yep, this is why I have a problem. Good luck with your story!!

    • Good idea about watching sitcoms!! I put Arrested Development in my Netflix queue. Maybe that’ll help. I uh guess I need to return Call the Midwife first. But thanks for the suggestion, Kathi.

  3. I wear shorts, even in winter…so… never!

    Keep up the hard work. I love short stories writing and reading them, mostly because they are short! Read ’em fast, write them, edit them much faster as well, but yeah trying to make them a complete story arc can be super hard. One thing you could try is working backwards, start with the resolutions to the conflict and write backwards so to speak. Maybe get a different perspective on it type of a thing.

    • Wow. Good suggestion!! Jill also mentioned that she works backward. I have the ending of the story. It had no relation to the beginning, which is probably why the story didn’t work. But thanks! I’ll try that. By the way, I just read a fairy tale on your blog. I caved and went toward the happy ending, but option A has its appeal. 🙂

  4. Sometimes I’ll start my stories from the middle and work backward. I’ve never put my pants on backward, but I have been known to put my workout shorts on backward. Good luck with the story!

  5. I once did the exact same thing, left home with a hole in my pants. It was a while before I noticed and a lot longer before I could run home and change. I walked around like a penguin until I could. I guess it’s kind of like sending out a manuscript and then realizing that there is a HUGE plothole or other mistake in it.

    Best of luck with your story.

    • I hope you had a sweater or something to cover up!
      I’ve sent manuscripts out with glaring errors, and resumes with huge typos. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job.

  6. Nice comparison … I do a whole lot of just sewing up pants that should probably be thrown away too. Hopefully, I’m not doing the same thing with my writing though. Hard to say.

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