Okay, so I may not remember if this was the very first piece of creative writing I wrote as an adult, but it was toward the beginning of my “writing career,” if I can call it that.
At the time, I was taking a correspondence writing course with The Institute of Children’s Literature Group. I’m sure I’m dating myself with the mention of “correspondence courses,” but I had five little kids and no time to go to the bathroom in those years. I wrote several pieces during that course. This particular story was my favorite. Luckily, I never abandoned it. I did constantly revise it, though. One of my many insecurities—constantly revising!
“The Unusual Tour Guides” became “Emerging from Darkness,” my first YA published short story in Cricket Magazine in 2012, the October issue. Since then, I have published four stories with Cricket Magazine. Yes, I’m still pinching myself to be sure I’m awake! And, no, it didn’t happen overnight. It took years. And years.
“Emerging from Darkness” went through various workshops and critique groups. I made the mistake of taking too many people’s advice, another insecurity I have. Everyone else can write better than I can.
Even short stories need to have both the internal and the external struggle. What I needed to filter out was any advice that was outside my story scope or not how Victoria Marie Lees wrote. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the difficult part when receiving critiques and advice.
The editors at Cricket liked the premise: a young teen still grieving from the recent death of her mother and resisting the need to become the caretaker for her younger brother. Of course, then I needed to add in a bit of adventure in a national park setting, it’s becoming my trademark. My family and I have been blessed to go camping every summer and we usually choose National Parks. I maintain a Camping with Five Kids blog of our many true adventures.
It’s so easy to say, never give up on a story. I have many stories living on my computer for which I am still trying to find homes. Perhaps I need to try harder. At least I should stop trying to incorporate everyone’s advice or revising the poor things to death, and just send the stories out to markets.
Please feel free to offer some advice of your own on how you filter out which comments to incorporate from critique and which to disregard for your manuscript and how you let go of revisions to send it out. It would be greatly appreciated. All the best to you.