Writing Idiosyncrasies | Opinion

I’ve been rather scatter-gun with my blog posts of late. I’ve had to rearrange some ballast on deck, with more attention paid to my doctoral literature review (finally completed) and work. This temporary realignment has reminded me of how much I miss blogging. I’ve certainly engaged with the writing community, but it never feels quite the same when you’re not posting your own content – the only person circling at a party with nothing interesting to say.

With that in mind, I aim to post approximately once per week again. This suits my schedule and ensures that I focus primarily upon quality. I’ll also be looking to expand where I publish my short stories and flash fiction again. It’s about time I started to regularly submit to journals and websites again; it forces me to diversify and to tailor my writing to others’ specifications rather than my own.

I’m off the mark for 2020 – a short story of mine will be published in April in Literally Stories (an excellent place to submit if you haven’t already tried them). Nevertheless, the welcome prospect of having my work published externally has brought to light an idiosyncrasy of mine that I haven’t heard replicated in the writing community.

Please, please let someone else have this literary tic.

I can’t bear to look at a piece of mine that has been externally published. I have never read a story of mine which has been published by someone else in its entirety. I can’t bear to. When editing, I have never read through a draft without changing something, a comma, a semicolon. Reading a story that is beyond that mechanism of adjustment is like torture for me. Imagine a poorly constructed sentence, or, the horror, a typo! Having that outwith the reach of editing software and in front of a discerning public is nightmare made real. I put up the links on my blog. I buy the few magazines I’ve been lucky enough to get into, but settling down to read them feels risky and self-congratulatory.

In the brilliant ‘The West Wing’, there is a fantastic scene where political operative Will Bailey is chiding his sister for tempting fate as they await the result of a crucial election. Will says (and the quote is from memory) ‘there is a moment after the dice leaves your hand but before it hits the table. Breathe wrong and you’ll change the way it lands’. It is precisely the lack of such a mechanism that haunts me. I am the lovelorn teen with his hand stuck in the post box and whose moment of dawning clarity has come seconds too late.

Never mind. Let’s blog, publish, submit, screw up, and let the dice land where they will.

Matthew Richardson is a writer of short stories. His work has featured in Gold Dust magazine, Literally Stories, Near to the Knuckle, McStorytellers, Penny Shorts, Soft Cartel, Whatever Keeps the Lights On, and Shooter magazine. He is an absentee member of the Glasgow Writers Group, a PhD student at the University of Dundee, a lucky husband, and a proud father.

Not necessarily in that order


28 thoughts on “Writing Idiosyncrasies | Opinion

  1. Glad you’ve managed to find a regular schedule that fits you. I definitely agree about being anxious of reading self-published work; no chance for corrections or do-overs! 🙂 Looking forward to more great stories of yours!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Great, thanks! 😀 And it isn’t quite a sequel yet, haha – I’ve got part 1, 2 and 4 ready to go, it’s just planning out a new part 3 because I completely rewrote my original draft. Such is writing life! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, I loved everything about this post. This is my favourite kind of post… alongside your Haiku’s of course (speaking of which, ahem… more please… ;))

    As for kindred literary tics, I’m secretly a massive control freak, so yes, the thought of publishing externally is pretty eek, for the reason you mention… though get over that I must, with any luck. I highly doubt I would EVER re-read something of mine that I couldn’t or wouldn’t self-edit. NEVER. (Does that cancel out the ever? Haha.)

    That quote about the dice… wow… that does sound like a good show. And what you said here is perfect:

    “Never mind. Let’s blog, publish, submit, screw up, and let the dice land where they will.”
    — Yes! That’s the only way to move forward… 🙌💃🏼

    Congrats on the completed doctoral literature review, and upcoming publication in April… all just pretty darned fab. 🏆🕺🎉

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yay for daiku… and I love all the other words from you, too, dear writing friend. ;)) But this post… very very nicely written, imho. Also… autobiographical… well, that’s my fave genre. :))

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a similar… aversion (?) to my stuff. I’ll skim to make sure it’s there, i.e. that I wasn’t dreaming, and to snag the link (if online) to share, but that’s it.

    I read somewhere recently that Adam Driver is this way about his acting. He can’t stand to see himself. In fact, the article I read was about how he had walked out of an interview because they played a trailer (or something) of his most recent movie. I don’t know that I, or you, are THAT averse, but it’s nice to know we’re not the only ones.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I think many of us feel that way Matthew. I have reread competition wins if mine and sometimes been happy enough, sometimes not. There’s always something is like to change. But when in he been published in magazines I never read the thing all the way through. This is me mainly though because publications will edit your work – they’ll change chat character names, trim prose, add prose to clarify a plot point – and I hate it! It’s all part of the work, handing over to an editor and they know their publication better than fan I do, but I still wince.
    Well done on your first publication of 2020. Ms say f there be many more

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m happy to add my congratulations to you on your doctoral progress and forthcoming new story.

    As a freelancer, I was told—and believed—that every writer needs a good editor. But I had several editors who were so bad that I either threatened to remove my byline if changes weren’t made or actually did so.

    I’m comfortable being my blog’s writer/editor now. Though I’m sure a talented editor could improve my writing, I’m generally pleased with what I’ve written.

    And, Matthew, I always admire and enjoy what you’ve written!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow Annie I’m amazed at that. Having never had a formal editor (and so coming from a place of ignorance) it surprises me that the relationship can get so antagonistic. We always seem to get the stereotype of a symbiotic relationship where the mild-mannered editor inevitably yields to the artsy writer! Kudos to you for standing your ground. Not that anything you write needs editing anyway Annie – it’s always perfectly constructed!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My writing was nonfiction on topics such as health and medicine. I hope for your sake that the stereotype holds and the artsy writer has free rein to work his magic.
        And thank you so very much for your kind words. With regard to your unwillingness to read your finished work compared to my view, perhaps it’s because you’re considerably more of a perfectionist than I am!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I agree. I love blogging over submitting to journALS for that reason: I like the liberty of being able to edit again and again, if need be, a post I have put up. Plus there is quick feedback. You very soon know if a post hits the mark or not 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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