An old draft, dusty and gray, looks hopefully at its creator, knowing there must have been a kernel of an idea, a set of pictures, emotions, that needed to be woven together, but something went wrong, an outward interference or a failure - it does happen - to bloom. The old draft knows that time creates distance, and distance brings with it a new perspective.
The draft stares into a mirror unadorned, the author standing behind it. She turns it around. Takes an inventory. Begins to ask questions. The old draft straightens under this scrutiny while the author wonders, Who is the character here? What's her name? Where is she and what is her current state of mind? What does she want? What stands in her way? What is her key strength? Her weakness?
The old draft yields up the information it possesses and hopes the author with see the bits that are strong and fresh, but not gloss over the parts that are missing or weak. The old draft knows it is flawed, and only wants to get better.
The old draft reminds the author that while characters are important, so is the story itself. Does the story have a spine and does that spine reflect what the main character wants and/or needs? How does the story test her and how does it bring out her strength? What about who she is bumping up against? Is he or she a worthy opponent? Is there real doubt created in the mind of the reader as to who will win? The old draft knows that in order to propel the reader through the story, there must be suspense and it is created by the uncertainty of outcome.
The old draft wants the author to know there are many beautiful words contained within its pages, but do they all work? Do they all serve the story? The old draft understands that in order to be the best it can be, some things will have to go. That it must be put on a fat-free diet. Must spend time moving and flexing. It must go to boot camp. The old draft doesn't like it, but knows this is the only way to build muscle and strength.
The old draft is beginning to feel young again, relishes the author's rekindled enthusiasm, and urges the work to continue and for the author to invite a few readers to check the progress and give honest and constructive criticism. The old draft consoles the author when some of the readers feel this or that needs an adjustment and tells the author to consider what might work and what won't, and then to trust her gut.
When the old draft see the author wander away with a gleam in her eye, it knows she'll be back to put on the finishing touches and the draft feels fresh and alive once more.
Gay Degani has had three flash pieces nominated for Pushcart consideration and won the 11th Glass Woman Prize. Pure Slush Books published her collection, Rattle of Want, in 2015 and the second edition of her suspense novel, What Came Before will be published by Truth Serum Press in late 2016. She blogs at Words in Place.