Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The "Good" Rejection

Just received a ‘good’ rejection letter today. What is a ‘good’ rejection letter you ask? Well, I think that it is any rejection letter that offers feedback on one’s story, good or bad. Editors are busy people, and often they have little time for more than a simple, ‘thanks, but this story wasn’t right for us,’ response. So if they take their valuable time to offer perhaps a reason for the rejection, and better still, a few compliments, then this is a good thing indeed.

This letter offered some very detailed feedback from two different editors, which I’ve decided to include below.

I like this post-wedding portrait. The old man's dialogue is excellent as is the whole supermarket scene. I like the little reveals of Katherine about her feeling a twinge for the evening and buying a large bottle of wine as opposed to a 750 ml. This really lets the reader's mind wander around about this woman. By the end, though, I wanted more direction, more emotion or action from Katherine. Is she sad? Drunk? Content? Stoic? I also expected more in the rain after she sees the old man dance -- I expected her to go dance with him, but she remains in her seemingly not-too-sad alone state that left the ending a bit flat for me. All the pieces are here, but I wanted them slightly more put together, but I did enjoy the sparse style and simple-yet-effective prose.
-- Editor A

Some very competent writing here. I liked the line " All around her, other people made similar mad dashes to or from their cars; the whole world seeming accelerated by the coming of the rain." But the ending was a bit of a let down for me as well. This piece needs a strong conclusion and I would like to know more about Katherine as a person. I would like to see more work from this author in the future.
–Editor B

The fact that there was a lot of nice things said really strokes the ego, and makes the rejection palatable. I have to say that this was the most lengthy of personalized rejections I’ve yet received. Both editors seemed to key on the downer ending, which I have to admit was what I was going for. So this gives me some food for thought. I can either revise the story, or keep it as it it. Since I still like the ending, I may try a few more submissions with it as is, and see what happens. On the other hand, I just might see what else I can come up with. That’s the beauty of working with your own writing–it’s yours to change (or not) on a whim. We shall see what happens.

Write On!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

One Shy of Fifty

Just submitted a couple more stories this morning, and as I was updating my submission log, I noticed that I had 49 submissions for the year–just one shy of fifty. I must say I’m pretty proud of this. I currently have eighteen out, and I’ve had two sales for the year, so you can do the math and see how many rejections there have been. (Full disclosure, some of these submissions were in late December, but that’s when I started the submission log)

I’ve read lots of different ways that writers deal with rejections, and now, after making this whole thing a rote process, I have to say that I really have no need to deal with them at all. I just pick the next market and submit again. And at one shy of fifty, I have to say that this is the most I’ve ever submitted at any point before. As I’ve said here before, in the past I’d submit a few, and then fall out of the habit. That was a bad thing, and I hope I can say that I’m out of that now. I don’t want there to be a time now that I don’t have at least some stories floating out there in submission.

And I have to say that what has really helped me in this endeavor is keeping track of things. I now have a spreadsheet for keeping track of submissions, as well as tracking the daily word output for my writing. It’s a fun thing to update each day. I’m proud as I see the numbers rise, and these spreadsheets keep me on track, both in my writing and submitting goals.

It’s good to be organized.

Write On!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Re: Rewriting

So I got a letter from an editor yesterday that was neither a rejection nor an acceptance.  What else could their be, you ask?   Let me introduce you to the rewrite letter.

First, the editor complimented my writing, which is always a good thing, and then went into detailing the brief piece of the story that didn’t work for her, and asked if I’d like to do a rewrite.  I agreed.  I’ll let you know how it comes out. 

I think getting a rewrite request letter is a great thing.  Almost as good as getting accepted.  It shows the editor liked the majority of your work, and is willing to publish it if you can just do a little bit of honing.  There may be writers out there whose work is too personal to them to rewrite for someone else, but I’m generally not one of them.  Usually editors are quite keen on story mechanics and what works versus what doesn’t, so it’s good to trust them.  When I was writing for Brewing News, my editor often pushed me to refine an article or a feature until it was better than what I had turned in, and I was always thankful for it.  The piece was almost always better than when it started.  Two heads are better than one, I guess, and I’ve always believed that the writer/editor relationship is a good dichotomy, and a great editor is one who pushes the writer to be better and better. 

So I rewrote the piece this morning, and I’m very pleased with it.  The changes were minor.  Just a couple sentences toward the end of page two, and a few more added at the end of the story.  But it fleshes out one of the two characters more, and gives her a greater raison d’etre.  I pleased with the changes, and hopefully, the editor will be as well. 

Write On!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

100,000 Club

So this weekend I hit one hundred thousand words for the year.

I’ve challenged myself to write at least a thousand words a day, and I hit 100K officially on March 18, which puts my average at about 1300 words a day. Not bad. If I can keep this pace up, I could potentially hit 400K for the year, which would be great.

I’ve had a few days here and there where I haven’t had the time to write, but thankfully, those are few and far between. In contrast to this I’ve had some days were I have doubled, tripled, or even quintupled my goal. I had one frenzied Saturday where I cranked out 5200 words. I’m proud of such a day, but also just as proud of the 1K’s as well. This is a long slow march to a beautiful destination, but it is also a hell of a journey, and if one is not enjoying the journey, what is the point, right?

I’ve been working exclusively on short stories at this point while I try to hone my craft. I have also worked in a little development on a novel I hope to start later in the year, but for now, the short story rules. I’ve had a couple come out at around 10K, but most have been in the nice, compact (and submittable) range of under 5K. I’ve also written a lot of flash, which I’ve really enjoyed. This surprised me, as I didn’t think I would enjoy writing such short short stories, but it turns out I do. It’s nice to be able to pull off a complete story arc in a day–really leaves one with a feeling of a job well done.

I’ve been doing a lot of submitting as well, which makes me feel great also. I just hit forty submissions for the year, and I’ve got fifteen out as I write today. Got a rejection this morning from Ideomancer. I hit Duotrope's Digest to find another market, and voila, the story is right back out there in circulation. I love getting a story right back out there. It feels like I’m a batter at the plate, and someone throws me a curve ball, but I just connect with it and knock back it into the sky. Let’s just hope it drops for a hit, or flies over the wall for a home run.

Resubmitting a story quickly, or having multiple stories out there, really takes the sting out of rejections. I highly recommend it.

Write on, kids.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Into the River and Up to Your Knees

So this is my new livejournal page writing website and blog.  I just had two stories sell this week, and I told myself when I had a professional sale, I would start a livejournal writing blog.  (Ed. Note:  This blog started on Livejournal, but I have ported it over to blogger, as I like the interface better)  I was going to start the blog after the first sale, but I didn’t get around to it, and another one hit.  Perhaps I should keep putting it off, if this is the result. 

Needless to say, I’m very giddy about the sales.  I have been putting an earnest effort into writing over the past year, in which I’ve managed to crank out over 200,000 words, which include about three fourths of a novel, and around thirty short stories.  I’ve also been putting an earnest effort into submitting, which in the past had been hit or miss for me.  I’d get a few rejections and drift out of submitting for a while.  Not so this year, so far, since January first, I’ve submitted about 20 stories, and lo, garnered two sales so far.  A ten to one ratio is not bad, and several of those stories are still out there. 

A bit about the stories.  The first is a piece of flash fiction called “The Thinning,” which sold to Daily Science Fiction.  I hadn’t really written much flash fiction (which are stories under a thousand words) before, but I had discovered that there were a great deal of markets for flash, so I decided to give it a go.  I’ve really enjoyed writing this style of prose, as one has to be clever to fit a whole story into that short a format. It forces me, as the author, to write very tight prose, which is a good thing.  I’ve also been learning how a good flash story hints at much more that is not written. 

The second sale was a novella of mine called “The Miller’s Tale,” to Mystic Signals Magazine.  I was glad to have this one sell, as it is one of my favorite stories of mine.  But at over 17,000 words, there wasn’t a great deal of markets for it.  Novellas are oddball things.  Too short to be marketed as a novel, but usually to long for most short story markets.  It was written over ten years ago, so I’m glad it is finally seeing the light of day. 

Hopefully, some more will hit soon, but I won’t be daunted if it takes a while.  This is a long process, but I’m in it for the long haul. 

Chris