I received a partial acceptance for a short story last week. The caveat was that I had to cut off the beginning and end, no small amputation from my point of view. The editor’s concluding sentence tried to be encouraging:
All in all, this story has potential especially if you focus further on developing Gustav and his relationship with Anna – keeping it based as a character driven story.
Sadly, the piece I submitted wasn’t a character driven story. If I cut off the beginning and end, what’s left is another of the countless tales about racial prejudice. In my piece, the characters are not as important as their situation. The situation is the story. In life, we play against ourselves and each choice we make reduces our options. The characters must be viewed from a distance, like pieces in a game of chess. The reader cannot be allowed to identify with the central character because the ending — which the editor wished me to cut – requires an impartial judgment. Otherwise, we are left with a personal tragedy instead of one that is universal.
Every writer wants an audience and every writer who sticks with his trade long enough will receive a response similar to mine and be tempted to change his work to conform to someone else’s expectations. Sometimes it is wise to do so. Sometimes the comments are correct and helpful. Here a writer must weight his artistic integrity against his vanity. “Am I merely balking because I’m being told the story isn’t as good as it could be?”
But sometimes a writer knows he has ventured in a new direction, one that is true if unexpected. What does he do then? Is it better to be in print at any cost? Or is the experiment worth the price of failure? That is the question.
(Courtesy of supermish.wordpress.com)