My Process: States of Being

  • Potentially Awesome. A flash of inspiration. The possible forms it might take are endless—a decalogy, a movie franchise, an epic poem. Laughter, tears, bitter insight into How The World Really Works. It’s all there, and it’s mine to plunder.
  • Awesome. First draft done. From nothing to something. Gold has been mined but not refined. Is it rough? Sure it’s rough, but its beauty shall blind anyone who dares read it! Let it sit briefly, before the world beholds its wonder!
  • Decidedly Not Awesome aka damn, this needs a lot of work. Three weeks after the first draft, doubts have arisen only to be confirmed when the drawer is opened. What was exciting has been muddled and lost. It’s going to take a lot of buffing to polish this turd…
  • Okay. One month later. Re-written, shown around, re-written again. It can no longer be denied that it is a story. Maybe it’s better. After all the work, perhaps it is better than originally hoped, a submission ought to give me the answer…
  • Crap. Absence may make the heart grow fonder but two months in slush limbo only bring its glaring faults to the forefront of my mind. I can’t bear to open the file and confirm the spelling errors, logical inconsistencies and derivative prose. Yet to know that I can neither correct its faults nor protect myself from a reader’s umbrage…shameful.
  • Confirmed Crap. Rejected thrice!!! It doesn’t work. They can’t use it. They may want to see other things, but never again this vile piece of shite! Away it goes, banished to corners of the hard drive saved for tax receipts and college one-acts. Never again will it see the light of day.

Until…Two years later. I click on a document folder whose title I don’t recognize. The story within, well, it’s got a certain whiff of inspiration. Sure, it’s buried by tonal issues and the pacing is flabby, but with a little work…



Creativity is paradoxical. To create, a person must have knowledge but forget the knowledge, must see unexpected connections in things but not have a mental disorder, must work hard but spend time doing nothing as information incubates, must create many ideas yet most of them are useless, must look at the same thing as everyone else, yet see something different, must desire success but embrace failure, must be persistent but not stubborn, and must listen to experts but know how to disregard them.

Michael Michalko (via Advice to Writers)