Last week, I posted a story, Buzz, that paints a picture of drug use. It wasn’t encouraging or cautionary. It offered no opinion. It was simply a snapshot, a vivid scene featuring four intoxicated teens.
It went nowhere. Stats-wise, it was my worst performing story in a year. Thirty page-views, two commenters, not so many likes. Buzz, for me, was a flop.
Let me tell you about my story. I wrote it almost a year ago while I was out for a run. Maybe not word for word, but I got down the basics and a little bit more. By the time I walked in the house, Buzz was 80% complete. What I posted isn’t the whole story, the rest of it is about running and the excited intoxication I feel when things are going well. But this small excerpt is the part I love.
There’s not much to it. Only two hundred and ten words. But in terms of effort per word, I doubt I’ve put more energy into anything. Buzz was wrought. Sculpted. Forged. Shaped. Excavated. After my run, I carefully, lovingly, tenderly selected each and every word in the story. I poked at it for hours. And then hours again. I published it in a magazine (it flopped there too), and I kept refining it. I wanted it to be perfect. I think it is.
This has happened to me before. Countless times. I’ve written my best story, donated a piece of my very being, and it resonates with no one. Being an artist is a dangerous thing. Art demands risk, and risk often results in failure.
It’s impossible to tell what a reader will like. Last summer, I knocked out a quick story. I was on vacation, trying to achieve my goal of a post a day, and I responded to a daily-prompt. Nothing impressive, nothing invested. Just a quick little piece before heading out to the beach. But a WordPress editor featured it on Discover. I shouted (to myself) “No, no! Not that one.” If only I could choose.
But I can’t. But I can ask you to give Buzz one more look. Susan warned me the day after I posted it that others might not see it from my perspective. I can accept this, I think, but I just want to know that people have read it.