seeking magic

So I’ve mentioned here a couple of times that I have been working on a story that may or may not have a leprechaun in it. (It’s not that I’m not sure. Rather, it’s that the reader must see the suggestion and decide. I do refer to this character as an “Irish demigod,” so I don’t think there will be much doubt.) Another character wants something and suspects his friend may be able to magically grant it to him, but he’s not specific enuf in his wish, with ensuing, edifying consequences.

I’d sent this story to a journal that had accepted two of my other pieces (including one of the OMF chapters) with reasonable hope. The editor sent it back asking for some revisions. And so I revised the story and resubmitted it. Then, amazingly, the editor sent it back a second time asking for more rewriting. I say amazing not that the editor was still not satisfied but that he seemed to like the story enuf to want to keep working with me to get it in the shape he wanted.

I won’t say I faced an existential crisis, but ’twas a puzzlement. Nearly all of my stories that have been accepted were taken “as is.” Only a handful of times have editors ever asked for any revisions, and those revisions were always minor. So I wasn’t sure what was inside the editor’s mind. Did he want me to fine tune the story with a few changed words and additional bits of punctuation? Or did he want to see something fundamentally different? Knowing which was critical to making the best of this second opportunity he was giving me.

So I turned to a friend who had for many years been an editor of a respected literary journal and presented my near-existential crisis. He and I traded emails for a few days as I told him my situation and he provided his suggestions. (Bottom line: any journal editor who is giving a writer a second chance at a rewrite really likes the story and wants to make it work.)

In the end I chose the fine-tuning approach. Among the points my friend and I discussed were the notions that you have to believe in your story and you have to gauge how much you want to see it published in the given journal. While I would be proud to see my piece in this journal, I leaned toward being satisfied with what I had written. And it’s not as though the two are mutually exclusive. It’s possible that the subtly revised story will meet the editor’s needs and find a home there.

I sent it back to the editor over the weekend with fingers crossed (which I suspect is very weak magic). His past responses have been months in coming, so I don’t think I’ll hear anything about the story’s fate for a while.

(And I’m sure you can see the parallels between my character’s wish for a magical solution and my own with this story.)

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2 Comments on “seeking magic”


  1. I feel like you could ask the editor what their intent is: fine tuning or major rewrite. But I agree with your friend. It’s a good sign.

  2. Paul Lamb Says:

    Indy – He was somewhat clear on what things he wanted corrected in the piece. That wasn’t the hard part. My concern was more on a psychological level: what is the editor’s state of mind about this? Will he be receptive at all if he doesn’t seem something obviously different? And since I can’t know that, I had to go with my gut.


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