Putting it off.

March 19, 2007

I had to giggle today when I was at critiquecircle.com. This is the online writing critique site I use with some of my short stories. There are a lot of very good writers there who can help with dead-ends, plot problems, grammar, dialogue, all that sort of thing.

I noticed a little tab in the corner that said “Tools” and thought I’d check it out. There was a submissions tracker, so you could track where you might be sending stories. There’s a name generator to help you find common or obscure names based on Census data. And then…there is what Critique Circle dubs The Ultimate Procrastination Tool:


Check it out: http://www.critiquecircle.com/tools.asp?page=hangman

On publishing.

March 18, 2007

I am a member of an online critique group that has done me a lot of good: you send your work in, and you have access to hundreds of readers who will critique your work (the catch–you have to critique theirs!).

On one of the forums, I read that placing your short stories in publications with little monetary pay is considered (to some) a mistake. But, in the short-fiction world, professional short-story rates can be a whopping $100, and sometimes even much less.

So, I’ve decided that placing stories in journals where there is the chance (no matter how minute!) of exposure and/or nominations to prizes such as the prestigious Pushcart or O.Henry are worth more in the end that a few bucks. And, one gets savvy to the ways of the publishing world through practice, so if you are indeed placing stories to non-paying markets, chin up. In my experience, these markets are not easy (at all!) to get into and their acceptance rates are not significantly higher than paying markets. You’d be surprised how many rejections one can rack up from non-paying markets alone. Lots.

Now, when it comes to a novel…that’s a whole different animal.

Courting rejection?

March 8, 2007

Flush with some recent success at placing short stories in various journals, I have committed that I would work on the novel.

But I keep delaying…outlining, thinking up dialogue, working on settings, tone, characterization, structure, plotting, the list goes on and on. In the end, it’s all a tactic for not getting on the bus.

Reading Steinbeck’s journal, I realize I’m not alone in this. A writer I know recently commented that she fears not finishing her work: I fear not starting. Especially since I’ve had some things accepted, there’s a sense of not wanting to screw things up, not beckon failure and rejection.

Last night, I took out some of the index cards I’ve been using to outline the book. Time to pin them up above the computer and do it…write the thing.

This weekend, we made a quick get-away to Monterey. I was reminded of how relaxing the coastal drive is, and it was made even more beautiful by absolutely *perfect* weather.

Cannery Row and the various signs and images of Steinbeck all have a certain romance for me. I was excited because I picked up a copy of East of Eden, which I’ve only read parts of before. But, even better…I bought something called The East of Eden Papers…essentially it’s Steinbeck’s personal letters to his editor at Viking Press, along with his musings and notes about the craft of writing.

I started the Papers last night, and was blown away. Steinbeck was, of course, a truly talented writer, but this glimpse into his preparation and practice of writing is fascinating! It’s almost like a writers-workshop…but infinitely better because he never intended that it be made public.

I’ll post more about Steinbeck, I’m sure. Reading his work and his thoughts on his work is inspiring.

You’ve got to (re)work.

February 28, 2007

The piece I recently submitted to The Rose and Thorn was just accepted. This was a story that I wrote and re-wrote, and re-re-wrote. In some ways, it scarcely resembled the original story, but it was infinitely better for all the time I put into it.

Moral: When a story isn’t coming together, if you don’t love it…don’t trash it. Put it away, come back to it. The more inspired pieces will be salvageable, and you may be able to make a little magic out of it.

Ready, set —

February 26, 2007

Well, I got a couple more short-story acceptances over the weekend.  This was great news, and frankly, it’s the shot from the gun.  I’ve been listening for it: the sound of, “on your mark…get set…” write that novel.

And the cool thing is:  I AM ready and set.  So, here goes.

Wish me luck!

Keeping on keeping on.

February 24, 2007

I received word this week that something I submitted will be published in The Boston Literary Magazine.  I’ll post the link once it’s up.

I sent my work there as part of a new rule I have: for every rejection, I must tweak my work (if needed…usually it doesn’t…I’ve only sent the piece if I feel it’s as close to perfect as possible). Then, I make myself send the piece out to two more places.

The reason I do this is two-fold: it keeps your energy from faltering and from staying poised on the rejection.  And two, I’m learning more and more that rejections are sometimes about opinions or about unsuitability for a market:  your work will get published if it is good and you keep sending it out for review.  It will eventually resonate with someone and voila! … you get an acceptance.

Don’t you love how I make it sound easy?  It may not be, but the pretense keeps me going.

Resources for writers.

February 24, 2007

I recently sent something, a short story, to the ezine The Rose and the Thorn.  This is such a great place, not just for the quality fiction you’ll find there, but also for some very good resources on the craft of writing and other resources.  Articles there include topics such as  setting (and maintaining) writing quotas and why submissions are rejected, from an editor’s point of view.  Check out:



Gearing up.

February 16, 2007

A month ago, I threw out the novel I’d been working on.

Just pushed “save” and archived it.  Maybe I’ll come back to it, maybe (probably) not.

But…I am gearing up for the new novel.  I’ve been brainstorming, making notes, outlining, revving my little engine.

It hasn’t taken me over yet, so I’m not ready to start the actual writing.  In the meantime, I’m focused on the short stories I’ve been working on.

But that novel…I hear it, faintly…it’s cooing at me.

Rejections big and small.

February 12, 2007

What kind of rejection is worse? The anonymous, “no thanks” kind or the kind that praises your writing, but rejects it anyway?

I really don’t know.

However, I just read t his rejection from a Chinese publisher (from Louis Zufofsky’s “A“):

Most honorable Sir,

We perused your manuscript with boundless delight. And we hurry to swear by our ancestors we have never read any other that equals its mastery. Were we to publish your work, we could never presume again on our public and name to print books of a standard not up to yours. For we cannot imagine that the next ten thousand years will offer its ectype. We must therefore refuse your work that shines as it were in the sky and beg you a thousand times to pardon our fault which impairs but our own offices. — Publishers.