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.
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.