It has been an interesting year since I started this pipe dream. I’ve learned a lot about writing and some interesting tidbits about myself, some good and some disturbing. I compare my earlier stories against my latest and wow, what a difference. I can see a lot of growth and determination, but mostly I see process. It hasn’t always been pretty, I’ll raise my hand to that, but it has been educational. Something that I’ve learned is that every writer’s path is different, this is my own and it will fold into whatever shape it has to.
I have entered in a few contests and regrettably the judges and I decided to go in different directions. Not being deterred I recently started sending stories to magazines, soliciting my work in hopes of being able to rock out my ZOMGHOLYSHITLOOK! I CAN HAZ PUBLISHED! post. That hasn’t happened yet, but I have had some encouraging moments.
I’ve had a few right out rejections. Despite knowing that it is part of the process and it is an inevitability, it still hurts. I have collected a few of these bad boys and undoubtedly I have many more to collect. I’m never sure how to react to them; throw my keyboard in disgust or just move on. I play it safe and move to the next story.
I have had two pending stories that were rejected as near misses. While these do hurt and humble, it is also encouraging. Despite my doubt and flaws I have improved enough to get that close to selling something. To be honest it feels good, but the magic table that published people sit at, swapping stories and giving each other high fives is still so far away I can’t smell what is for dinner.
So what have I learned so far about writing and selling stories?
- It isn’t personal when your story doesn’t sell. Everybody gets rejected. Some stories would do better in different outlets than the one you are submitting to.
- Writing is hard work. Like anything there are probably people who can hardly put the effort into a story and sell it like pickles to pregnant women, but that isn’t the majority. Everybody has a different path and most had to work at it. Write, then write more, then write again, then write after that. Don’t forget to write.
- ws;sr – which is stolen from John Scalzi. It stands for writing sucks, stopped reading. This ties into everything above. In our short attention span – hey look at the bunny! society you have to be interesting. When you are trying to sell a story your first paragraph/page needs to grab the reader. Chances are that even if your story is amazing, if the beginning is slow the editor/reader will move on to the other billion stories for the day. When/if you get past that point, your writing needs to be good, which comes from practice and due diligence.
Learning them first hand and generally knowing they exist are separate. I knew these blips of profound truthiness before this past year, but having learned them first hand I have to be honest and say it is different.
Until my next post about inappropriate euphemisms about Grandma and Scandinavian delicacies, good night.