It's taken my ten-year-old son all summer to get to a story that I asked him to polish , but once he put his mind to it, he made two rounds of revision, wrote a cover letter and sent it off. To Stone Soup! Wish him luck.
By the time football season ends he should find out whether or not his story was accepted. He'll be spared a letter of rejection since they only respond if they are interested. Regardless, I am proud of him. He wrote a terrific first draft last year for a salmon unit in class. I didn't see it until this year and I was impressed with his natural sense of story, the vivid language -- specific nouns and active verbs. The story sparkled. I knew with a couple of rounds of revision it could be dazzling.
It's not easy to get a child to revise a story. I do workshops in schools and kids don't really care for revision -- they wrote a story and that's that. I like to show them the process and show how much fun it can be to say what you mean, to choose words carefully and what a difference even small changes make in clarity. Although most children enjoy the workshop, they don't make it a habit to revise their work unless they have to. My son included. So I gave him a deadline -- before the summer is over, I wanted that story polished and out in the mail. And he did it with a week to spare. Yes!!!
That's what I need -- for my mother to tell me to finish my book or else!
So tell me how you finish projects? Do you obey self-imposed deadlines or do you need a nudge from a critique partner? Or do you only finish the projects that you've got a contract and deadline for?