Tweaking words is the name of the game. Like a sound engineer with one of those giant soundboards of nobs and levers and sliders and digital output, I am constantly trying to nip my writing into something better, something perfect, something *just* right.
At some point, though, you have to stop tweaking.
My current battle is with this new publication I have on Amazon. It is the short story “Church of the Palomino.” I can’t post a link to it here, but you can search by the title and find it. Please go…search, find…and do what you will (i.e. buy it)!
So, the object of my tweaking has shifted from the story itself to the description of the story.
It used to say this (a blurb I fashioned around midnight one night in a feverish attempt to meet my self-imposed publication deadline):
“A widower finds solace at The Palomino. Or thinks he does. The object of his worship is an exotic dancer. Circumstances draw them together one fateful night, but things don’t turn out as expected.”
When I read it the next day, my reaction was, “WHY did I start my description with “A widower?” A WIDOWER? Really, what was I thinking? That’s not going to sell a story!
So, then I started using this hashtag in a handful of tweets about the story: #everybodylovesastripper.
Much better, I think. More light-hearted anyway. And everybody DOES (or should…strippers are people, too). So, I updated the brief description to this:
“Everybody loves a stripper, right? Well, formerly puritanical Max does. As a widower he finds solace at The Palomino. Or thinks he does. The object of his worship is Lexi–self-described as “a stripper with a heart of stone.” Circumstances draw them together one fateful night, but things don’t turn out as expected.”
I also managed to introduce the characters by name and include some meatier descriptions of them aside from “widower” and “stripper.” The problem with describing a short story that has a twist at the end is that you don’t want the brief description to give it all away. I am so tempted to have this whole diatribe about the relationship between these two characters and what they effectively do for one another, quite by accident, just by having a conversation and living through a couple of strange experiences together. And it really has nothing to do with who they are or sex or any of the stereotypical things you might think when you put “a widower” and “a stripper” together. He is not a dirty old man. He is lonesome and sad and desperate. She is a girl (not a woman) who has been driven to this way of making money, because it is her best bet, given her circumstances, for survival. They are just two people.
But I want people to get that for themselves when they read the story. Someday I will put down my “English professor” agenda and just let my writing live on its own.
Back to tweaking…out. I am a watcher and a hoverer. I can admit this. The number of times per day that I check my “Amazon Best Sellers Rank” is almost equal to my rank, which is, as of this moment: #152,433. Woo hoo? It has gone from 196k to 98k and back again in a matter of hours. It kind of freaks me out. And considering how little this story has sold, I know that this number is mainly dependent upon the success (or lack thereof) of others. So, I’m easing off of the watching, because you know what they say about a watched pot…
As hard as it is, I have to just let it be, and hope that it does well. And stop tweaking out. And start working on the next thing!