I try not to open that drawer because every time I do, a chorus of plaintive voices starts reproaching me. The stories don't like being filed away, not a bit. They say things like,
"You haven't sent me out for a long, long time."
"Remember, you were just going to put me away for a while, and then try again."
"You said you planned to send me out after the first of the year. That was three years ago."
It's getting very embarrassing. They all just want to be read, and they all think they are absolutely perfect (or almost perfect) just the way they are, and why don't I give them the attention they deserve? I haven't the heart to tell them that a new story has captured my heart, that I am in love with it and spending all my available hours working on it.
I know, I know. Writers can be fickle. It's not that I don't love them any more. It's just....well, it's just that's how it is.
The logical question here is why do I open the drawer if it upsets me to hear their voices. The answer is simple, really--and a little sad. I keep having to put more stories in with them. Just this afternoon I got a very kind, lovely letter from an editor who said she really liked the story she was sending back and did wish she could offer to publish it, but...
So there I sat with the unwanted story in my hand. My desk top was already covered with miscellaneous manuscripts and mail ... no way round it, I would have to... and then this perfectly brilliant idea occurred to me--if a story just wants to be read, and it doesn't really care whether it's done up with a fancy cover and full-page illustrations, why not just take it out of the drawer and put it somewhere where it can be read?
(I firmly believe that even a story that won't appeal to enough readers to be profitable to a publishing house will find the readers it is meant for. And sometimes that story and that reader will form a lifelong friendship. What more can a writer ask?)
I wasn't sure I'd have any takers, but when I opened the drawer and asked if anyone was interested, the clamor of competing voices was amazing, so I did the only sensible thing--I stuck in my hand and pulled out a story at random. Actually, I'm very pleased with my choice. I've always liked "Stella's Elevator," and it's been waiting for readers for a very long time.
I hope you enjoy it.