Homemade Salsa

Anyone who makes their own salsa knows how good it is compared to what they can buy at the market.  Some people love cilantro in theirs, or a little more vinegar to give it that ‘bite’.  I make my salsa with red onions, fresh jalapenos and habanero peppers that I dried out last year.  I can’t buy that kind of salsa in the store, they don’t make it like I do. 

There’s a lot that the market cannot provide for you that you can do for yourself.  No gardener ever looked at her flawless Roma tomatoes and said “I’d rather use the Romas from Walmart.”  Once a gardener knows what they are doing, nothing ‘out there’ can compare to what you can produce on your own.

I got into writing because I knew I could tell stories as good as those writers ‘out there’.  Unfortunately, writing entails more than just having a good imagination.  You have to learn the rules and master the craft.  But once you do, once you really know what you are doing, your stories have to be as good as or better than the current market.   

Good writers don’t just copy what they see on the bookshelves any more than good cooks copy what they can buy on the grocery shelves.  Our stories have to be better than the stories we see played out on TV (okay maybe not Game of Thrones but you get the idea).  We have to be excited about our projects and can’t wait to get back into that world to see what happens next. 

If we as the creators are not excited about our work why should the readers be?  If we would rather watch the next episode of Revenge than work on our novel, why would anyone want to read it? 

New writers are exempt from this.  They have to suck for a while before they can get better.  But for the rest of us, those scribblers who have a couple novels in the bottom of a desk or lost on a floppy disk somewhere, we have to make sure our current work is as good as our homemade salsa.


Letting Go

A garden in October is like a submitted story. There’s not much you can do to improve on either. The story is in the slush pile, the garden has given up what it’s going to give up.

Since I’ve started my new novel the yard has been negelected. The book is coming along great but the garden has gone feral. I can still get some tomatoes and onions out. But anything I get now is like republishing a story in an anthology.

Letting go of a garden means pulling the plant out by the roots and tossing it in the compost pile. It is a final act, an action that says this this is done and I’m not getting anything else out of it.

Stories are done when we know another edit isn’t going to make it any better. It’s time to send it out when our alpha and beta readers don’t have anything else to say about it. But all too often writers will hold on to stories way too long.

I’m guilty of that.

I’ve held on to stories until they go bad. Whay I mean by that is my writing has improved over the years and the early stories are not salvagable. If I had sent them out back when they were written, I’d have a few more notches on my belt. So now I’ve got a backlog of good sotries, great stories and some meh.

It’s easy to let a garden go. Nature tell you when to do so. Stories do not have natural cycles, they can’t tell us when they are ready. Only the writer knows when a tale is finished and know when it is time to let go.