I’m struggling with something. Hannah (my alter-ego) and I have been chatting about it for a while, but no real conclusions, so I thought I’d post the conversation and see if anyone out there had any thoughts.
If you’ve been following for a while, you might have met Kaleb, my main character from a story called “Loved by Numbers.” This was originally published in 2009 by Deadman’s Tome (then called Demonic Tome). The magazine has since taken down their archives, so the story is no longer available on the web.
I’ve been thinking about trying to get it reprinted elsewhere, but here’s the problem: I wrote the story six years ago. I’ve grown as a writer since then. If I wrote the story today, I probably wouldn’t submit it because it wouldn’t be up to my current standards. But at the same time, I was really proud of the story originally, and I like Kaleb as a character. I want to give people the chance to meet him in his home story.
I don’t know. Anyway, here are Hannah’s thoughts on the matter. If anyone has any advice, I’d appreciate it 🙂
“So, what’s your problem with the story?” Hannah asked.
I flinched at her language choice. “I don’t have a problem with it…”
“Sure you do. We don’t talk about things you already feel warm-and-fuzzy about.” She settled herself in a beanbag, and I was surprised she wasn’t snacking on something. She normally was during these meetings. Maybe she was feeling indecisive. That would certainly be appropriate given my current attitude towards Kaleb’s story.
“Okay. My reservations,” I emphasized the gentler synonym, “about the story… well, there’s the math thing. I don’t like how it portrays math as something evil. But I absolutely can’t change that, because that’s the point of the story.”
“Agreed,” Hannah said.
“Math already has such a bad name without me enforcing that.”
Hannah made a face. “Mm… disagree. No one appointed you guardian of Mathematics. It’s not your job to make people like numbers.”
“But I want people to like numbers.”
“Which is great. But I doubt this one story is going to be the deciding factor in anyone’s life. Get over yourself.” She decided on yogurt-covered raisons for today’s munchies. “So, what else? Just the math thing?”
I sighed. “It’s just been a while since I wrote it. I’ve gotten better since then. Not that I think the story is bad, I’ve just moved beyond it.”
“Except you clearly haven’t moved beyond it, or we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” Hannah pointed out. “Part of you obviously wants to fight for the story. Why?”
I didn’t have to think long. “Kaleb. I really like Kaleb.”
“So do I,” Hannah said. “I think it’s more than that, though, or you’d just find another story for him like you’ve done before.” When I didn’t have an answer for this, she asked. “Want to know what I like about it?”
“I like the style. Not because it’s like ‘oh wow, greatest style ever.’ But it was a big growth moment for you. I’ve never seen you connect with a character’s voice like that before. You’ve done it since then, and better, but that was the first.”
I took a moment to enjoy the praise. I didn’t get it from Hannah all that often. “Thanks. But does that mean the story belongs back in the submission pool, or in a scrapbook?”
“Well, that I don’t know,” Hannah admitted. “That side of the business is your world. I’m only interested in the stories themselves.”