Monday, March 20, 2017

Optimism

I listen to Freakonomics on NPR and am never disappointed. This week they spoke about perceptions of one's situation and how we too often complain about the headwinds and seldom consider the wind behind our back (or beneath our wings as it were.)

I've complained bitterly in this blog about the miserable the life of the short fiction writer, the lack of income, the delay in seeing print, and the difficulty of creating yet another masterpiece* I've also railed about how trying it is to change my style, and always failing.  It seems that in this field there is a constant wind ever resisting my progress.

But then I look on what I have managed to accomplish over the years, the few stories that managed to  rise about my ability and actually touch someone.  I think about the editors who helped along the way, the rich environment in which I chose to participate, and the wonderful advent of electronic tools for creation, submission, and [tbd].

This is a wonderful playground for writers, filled with those willing to extend a helping hand, welcoming newcomers into conversations, and freely giving information that facilitate reaching an editor, a market segment, or a new venue.  Attendees at conventions are wonderful, filling the chairs at panels, providing feedback, and letting writers talk about whatever they damn well please despite the subject. These ate the sustaining winds ever at my back; stronger winds than ever held me back.

And for that I am eternally grateful.

*IMHO

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Long Wait

I don't understand how novelists do it. Imagine taking a few YEARS to write something, hone it to near perfection, and producing a finished draft to be submitted to an editor.  Short story writers differ from novelist only by word count and disposition. The pace of their submissions must be greater and they face the inevitable self-doubt of speed.  You* usually wish you could retract it one microsecond after it leaves your desk because there is always something that MUST be changed. But it is too late.  You can only wait until the rejection comes.

So you wait.

 Editors get  LOT of submissions from agents and random unknowns like you.  Although most of these pitiful pieces are unsuitable, unwanted, or just crap, they still must be read enough to justify a discard.  That takes time and, if you aren't a current darling, it might take months for the editor to get to your gem.

So you wait.

 And wait some more because your submission is the 1,256th piece the editor has to look at this month. You wait for the editor to quickly work their way through the poorly written and infantile plots of the pieces preceding your submission.

So you wait as the date of the expected rejection passes.

Could the delay mean an acceptance is forthcoming?  What if your submission has been set aside pending something better?  OMG, what if it has been lost?  Perhaps waiting a bit more might resolve the issue.

Months pass and the damn cat is still in the submission box.

Meanwhile you produce yet another piece or two realizing that you are no more than a field hand being paid by the bagful for the fruits of your labor.

Whether the metaphoric cat is dead or alive matters not. Waiting is part of a writer's life.  Regardless of whether you write long or short, there is little that you can do until the cat leaps out or the box begins to smell.

You write!

*And by this I mean I.


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Monday, March 6, 2017

Euphoria......and then

There is a certain sense of exhilaration  that comes from correcting the last mistake, dotting the final period, or changing "just a little bit of...." and shoving the piece out the (virtual) door.  Doing so rings a note of finality that, despite all odds, setbacks, trials, and tribulations you have finally completed the Herculean task of writing the complete, perfect story.  The stable is now clean.  It is a wonderful time.

Regardless of whether it is a short story or a bloated novel the accomplishment is something to be celebrated.  Now, you swear, you can get onto something else and, by damn, you WILL NOT make the same stupid mistakes that made you do all those rewrites, edits, and changes as you did on the just completed manuscript. Bravely you go forward, writing like a fiend, piling up pages of creative narrative that will not doubt achieve Nebula status and.....

Oh crap!  I discover that you've written myself into a corner, but maybe if you make a tiny change back there on paragraph three... But that means  have to rewrite pages 5-10 and probably change the focus or....Why did I start THERE?  No, no, the story actually starts on page six, which means you need to throw out the first five pages and..  Gott in Himmel, that changes the entire story arc, but no problem..

And so it goes, one manuscript after another. You suddenly feel that you  may never learn from your mastakes. You are doomed to haunt the halls of futility heavily bearing the chain of inadequacy on your shoulders while ever searching for the perfect word, the perfect sentence, and the cogent paragraph and correcting spelling, punctuation, and grammar along the way.  But maybe this time, on the tenth edit this one might eventually be finished.

Or abandoned.



#SFWApro