Do you have more stories than you know what to do with? So do I. There are ones I wrote for a particular publication or theme and never got them submitted. When writing a story for a specific contest or publication, I don’t always finish the piece before submissions close. While I wish everything I’d written I had been able to submit, there is still a plus to having a large collection of unpublished stories.
Last year I partook in a challenge for Havok editors (it was also open to the public but I mostly knew other editors who were participating) to write a story for each genre per theme (60 stories total). Being a writer and the themes being so fun with Havok, we still wanted to write stories for the themes. I took a little easier approach and just did one story within one of the genres per theme (grand total would be 12 stories). We called it the Gauntlet. Now, a couple of these stories were published but being an editor with the publisher limited how many of them could be sent in for consideration. That left a lot of stories written with no home. But that’s okay because it creates something that can be important for a writer: backlog.
Having a backlog as a writer might not seem good but let me explain why this can benefit a writer, especially with short stories or pieces that could be sent to an anthology or magazine. Now, instead of always having to find a new idea, I have a finished or partially finished story written and ready to be sent when a new opportunity comes up. And new opportunities do come up.
Example. I’m recently was working on a story I originally wrote as a poem, then adapted into a short story (can’t remember why I chose to do this), and polished it to submit for consideration to an anthology. The due date isn’t until April but because it was already several drafts in, I could focus on polishing it up and sent it in a week or two ago. That moves a lot fast than when you have to come up with a story, write it, edit it, then send it in. Sometimes the biggest thing is to tweak the story to fit the requirements of the new publication you’re submitting too.
You may be wondering how this works if a story is written according to a particular theme. Honestly, it still works. What I’ve found when writing is even though a story is written to a theme doesn’t mean it won’t work for something else. One idea can work for several themes. More than once while editing for Havok, I’ll be editing or writing a story towards one theme and can see how it would also work for another theme. Sometimes the story would just need to be tweaked or emphasized here instead of there to fit a different theme.
If you have a story that was written but didn’t get a chance to be submitted to the planned publisher or was rejected, hold on to it. Work on it. Tweak it. A new opportunity will come up. And, when it does, you’ll have a story in your back pocket to polish and send. And still have time for cookies.