A man searching for a balanced life has many stories.
So, I wrote a story. People liked it. A LOT of people liked it. In fact, Ken Liu himself said some very flattering things about the story that made me blush. People that knew my writing felt like it was the best thing I’d ever written.
But here’s the thing, I wasn’t convinced.
I wrote the story in about one day, on a deadline, and as a “pantser”. Pantser means writing with the “flying by the seat of my pants” model. I can do that fairly well, and I’m not exactly the hardcore outliner, but I never write a story without knowing at the very least what the ending is. Until this story.
Anyway, the result was that in my gut I knew something was wrong. I tried to patch it up, and I think I did a fairly good job because a few more people enjoyed the read afterwards and had very little to say. Almost nothing to say, actually.
But I was frustrated.
So, I contacted my friend Steve Stewart. And thank God for him; he tore me apart. He wasn’t wowed by the glamour and the cool factor that I’d filled the story with. He looked at the stuff that I was trying to hide behind fireworks. He told me that I needed to rewrite the sucker. And not only rewrite it, but “don’t even glance at the first draft” and write an entirely different story just with the same characters and world.
Sure, it hurt, and sure I kept thinking that stupid writer’s curse phrase: ”Well so and so liked it.” And KEN LIU liked it: Mr. Hugo/Nebula—I can sell to every major market in a span of one month(April 2012)…
But I thought about it, and I realized that Steve was right. Steve cares about my career, and he took the time and energy to think about what really mattered in the story. Not that these other people didn’t, but Steve’s been my writing buddy since Boot Camp 2009. We’ve been through crap together and his success—I’d like to think—is my success, too.
Thus, I can’t put out a story that could be so much more. I KNOW the story could’ve sold as is, but I don’t only want it to sell. I want it to be sheer WIN. So, despite the irrational fear that the story isn’t going to be as good as the first version, I’m rewriting this one. It’s being gutted as we speak.
And it’s gonna be amazing. Trust me. Cause Ken Kao said so.