One from the vault

A long time ago, more than two decade past, I wrote a short story that I thought was the best thing I had done at the time. I had shopped it around, using the snail mail system that was prevalent at the time, and though it never found a home, I did receive encouraging words and suggestions in the rejection letters.

I’d never really given up on the story, and I would revisit it every couple of years to make a change or enhancement then try sending it out again. Eventually, though, I let the piece lie fallow, and after a few changes in computers I realized that the only copy I had of it was trapped on a floppy disk for which I had no drive to read. An older computer on a shelf in the basement might be brought back to life long enough to allow me to open the file, but I would not have been able to print it and much less have been able to email it.

I didn’t like the idea of losing what I remembered as a fine story, and somewhere, I was sure, I had to have a paper copy. Like most people, I have too much stuff that accumulates, and when the urge hits me and I begin to sort through it, I usually find I can throw all of it away — its pertinence or usefulness long gone. Yet somewhere amidst all of this I hoped was a copy of the story.

I poked around in some likely places but found nothing. Actually, I found plenty of things, but they were mostly that junk that I was pleased to be able to throw away (or recycle). Still, the fact that I might lose a good story of mine kept nagging at me, and I kept looking.

Last weekend I found the manuscript. It was in an unlikely place among unlikely companions, but I finally had it in hand. The pages were tinged yellow, a dramatic touch, and it bore some red pen marks I’d made some time long gone. Buried treasure it was!

What a pleasure it was to read my own twenty-year-old writing. The words came back to me with a delightful familiarity, which I take as a sign that it truly is a good piece of writing. I loved seeing the deliberate word choices I had made, the hints and references, the development of the story and character, even the non-linear plot. It was all there then, and it still is now.

So I spent a few hours keying the text of the story (nearly 6,000 words) into my computer, making minor fixes and enhancements once again, and then backing it up in the usual places. I’m going to give it a couple of weeks to ferment, and then I think I’m going to start sending it out once again. I’m sure there’s a home for it, and it makes me wonder what other forgotten gems I have stashed here and there.

Ironically, the story is titled “Unfinished Business” and clearly that was the case.

Update: You can read of the latest developments in the long adventure of this story in this post.

Explore posts in the same categories: Humble efforts, short stories

One Comment on “One from the vault”

  1. Pete Says:

    Good luck with the story. If nothing else, the ensuing development of online submissions have made getting rejected so much easier.

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