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July 2, 2011
Posted at 11:50 am

A peek inside

My recent story, In It To Win It generated some interesting mail, and some great discussions. In fact, some of the things I had to explain to readers made me decide to write this blog entry. Its purpose is to show those of you who are interested, how a story's life progresses, and how monumentally screwed up a story can get.

It started out when I submitted How I Bagged A Cougar to SOL as an entry in the contest contest. Somehow, that submission wasn't recognized as a contest entry, and it got posted as a new story. I knew that the contest entries weren't supposed to be available to be read until later, so I wrote to Laz and asked him what was up.

Meanwhile, people were reading the story, and voting on it and sending me email about it.

So once Laz understood the deal, he made the story "invisible" (that's what he called it) and said he'd have to think about things before he decided whether How I Bagged A Cougar could be accepted into the contest or not. Some people had read it and voted on it, after all. I also wasn't sure there was 'enough' contest language in the first story. In other words, had they kicked it back, I wouldn't have been surprised. I would have argued ... but I wouldn't have been surprised.

So, in case that story got rejected, I started another one, called In It To Win It, and made sure that the contest angle was there in spades.

There were only three days, at that point, before the cutoff for the contest contest arrived. Which meant I only had three days to write the new story.

Just in case you were wondering ... trying to write a story in three days is never a good idea.

So anyway, I'm pounding along and, in the process, didn't even think about the fact that, in this new story, I had a world famous singer holding a huge concert in what was apparently her home town, since it was the town in which Bob and Mandy lived, and where the world famous singer must have lived too, since Mandy visited Bob once a week while she was living with the world famous singer. I mean that part just flew by me unobserved completely.

Meanwhile, people are writing to me asking where the hell the story went that I had just posted. I had to explain to them that it was a contest entry and so on and so on. That's when I found out a whole lot of people bookmark my new stories so they can read them later.

I was almost finished with the story when Laz wrote to me and said the original story had been accepted into the contest.

The contest closed and I decided that, since I had a story mostly written, I'd just finish it and have it in reserve. So I expanded it in some places (the contest stories had to be pretty short, and you know how long winded I love to be).

So then the contest came out, and the first page of each story was there, but you couldn't get past that unless you were a "qualified reader". Enough about that. You know the deal. Suffice it to say that some people who had started that story, and had it pulled out from under them, found out they still couldn't finish it.

I felt bad about that, so I decided to toss the new story out there so everybody had something to read. I did not put it through the regular editorial mill. Peaches was busy. So nobody caught the fact that I switched from first to third person in a couple of places. Peaches would have seen that (and yelled at me, by the way) but I was in a hurry, and she was busy. Michelle looked at it and corrected about five dozen typos, but I didn't do a line by line read-through, which I usually do. I'm going to blame that on the fact that it had been some five months since I posted anything, and I was out of practice.

Are you buying that?

But what I did do, was read each chapter before I hit the "send" button. And that's when I noticed that all the action took place in one town. And that all she got for a salary was $50,000, which seemed kind of low, considering what she was having to give up, and how rich the world famous singer was and all. And I noticed that of the original six contestants, I had only had one drop out, which didn't seem realistic to me. So I decided to have two of them drop out instead of only one.

So I made some last second changes.

In case you were wondering, making last second changes is even a worse idea than trying to write a story in three days.

But I did it, and hurriedly made the world famous singer live somewhere else (California as it turned out).

Except that meant that Mandy's day off each week couldn't very well be spent with Uncle Bob. I mean suddenly he lived 300 miles away. And so did her parents, who she went off to visit a couple of times in the original story too.

So all that had to change.

Which meant the Chauffeur couldn't meet Bob, and pronounce him a nice guy, or give Mandy any advice about him, which was in the original version and had to be tossed.

And in the original, when she went into labor, Bob and her mother were right there in town, and it was relatively simple to get her to the hospital and have the baby.

But now everybody was 300 miles and who knows how long away.

But I had already changed it in the posted part, so I was stuck with it. So I had to go to greater and more unbelievable lengths to make things happen, and it had to be done quickly to keep to the posting schedule.

And the other changes I made only got made in two out of three places, or three of four or whatever, so discrepancies abounded. Then, of course, there were the just plain screwups, such as changing the baby's name from Angelina to Angelica in a couple of places, and not fully changing things when she went into labor. At one point I think I had Bob taking her somewhere, and the next thing you knew Dennis was driving.

And what you guys ended up with was a mess. And I blamed all that on the fact that I was in such a hurry to post something.

So I thought to myself: "Self, you can do better than this when you post it at your website over at ASSTR, and people can read something much more satisfying."

Now all of that happened several weeks ago which, to my poor old mind, is ancient history, so I don't actually remember if I posted the better story at ASSTR or not. I do know that I submitted it to Amazon, which promptly rejected it as being "unsuitable" for undisclosed reasons. They said it violates their standards, or something like that.

So what I'm probably going to have to do is start all over with it, and go through it like it should have been gone through in the first place, and made to seem both reasonable and possible. Now that I think about it, why can't Victoria Anderson have a contest in her own home town? And why can't they all live in the same place. World famous singers have to live somewhere, and so do Mandy and Uncle Bob. And that would salvage a lot of the original story.

The point is that I know how to do this thing. I just have to follow my own rules.

So thanks for being patient. I really will start writing again soon. The pressure is building up in me and while my original plans haven't panned out, there's no reason I can't keep working on them and write something shorter at the same time.

And that, dear readers, is a peek into my mind.

It's amazing anything ever gets done, huh.