2632 words. That’s how long the short story I’ve been writing is, as of the current draft. A couple years ago, I was sick of having a billion ideas, mostly stories, and no way to use them. I was highly versed in filmmaking and screenwriting, but the limitations with those mediums meant my ideas would never face the scrutiny of the world-at-large. Sure I could pass around a screenplay, but how many of you read scripts–more importantly, how many know how to read the script structure?
To get a feel for my handicap, I’ll admit that the simple act of writing an email at work would cause me to tense up with fear. Fear that my crappy grammar and inability to notice the most basic spelling errors would forever paint me as a fraud. Like most challenges I’ve faced in my life, I took it head on.
Books on grammar, writing and craft filled my Kindle. Bird by Bird, Stephen King’s On Writing, Eats Shoots and Leaves, countless Grammar Girl books. The list goes on. The biggest thing I needed to learn was that writing wasn’t the magical spell of inspiration non-writers assume but, like all the other types of art I’ve dabbled with, the key was in refining. Or in this case, editing.
I started by trying to find a voice. I posted on my blog analyzing various subjects I was interested in, but I quickly learned that interest in a subject didn’t exactly equate to expertise in a subject. I found myself going months without posting because the time needed to research the things I wanted to write about was hard to come by. Hence those “Where has Ronnie been?” updates. Still, I was receiving a great response from the few people who were reading my articles and my confidence was growing. I’d eventually be invited to write on Medium when it was still in beta.
I was excited to say the least. The buzz surrounding the new platform meant my stuff would be read by complete strangers. Folks who wouldn’t shy away from telling me to not quit my day job. Luckily I was never told that and last year my day job revolved around writing. And thanks to Medium’s stats, I was gaining confidence by knowing how engaging my writing was to others. My read ratio, the amount of people who read and finish my stories, was over 90%.
I started writing my yet-to-be named short story a few weeks ago after reading a writing prompt on Reddit. It was finished in a day, but because I had written it out by hand releasing it into the wild was impossible. Over the next few weeks the handwritten manuscript was transcribed. But in before I finished, inspiration struck and I wrote the story recalling the last day I spent with my little brother before he passed. After I wrote it, I spent around ten minutes editing it before I published it on Medium.
Since it was published, its read ratio hasn’t budged 40%. I can tell you why and you probably already know. It’s the same reason you won’t see my 2632 word short story yet. Because I want to refine it. Because I have to refine it or risk no one reading it through. That’s a hard thing to do.
With that said, I’m going to go refine it.