Since 2006 I’ve had a short story hanging around that I like and that mostly works, but also presents some problems for readers. It’s been through my crit groups in different iterations as I’ve tweaked it and tried to address the issues. Never quite “got there”.
The problems stem from the fact that behind the relatively small action of the story, there was a big world. A novel sized world. Obviously, this is something I do because I’m more novelist than short story writer, but unlike my “synopsis of a novel” shorts, this story doesn’t need to be a novel. Like I said, it “mostly works”.
Last week, I decided to revisit this short and give it another edit. I stripped out the world. Pared it down in a way that I suspect removes the problems.
Thing is, I don’t want to show it to anyone, because success in this case is going to feel a lot like failure. What I stripped out of the story was both what made the story really interesting and what makes my work mine.
That doesn’t feel like a winning position.