Sunday, May 18, 2008

Writing life

This last week, I polished up and sent off the latest project, which makes four stories out there in the small world of publishing. Each submission waiting, with much more patience than I, for a discriminating editor to offer a contract or to request revisions or to simply say no thank you.

In the meantime, I’m catching up on real life chores and doing something I should’ve thought of sooner, building an inventory of un-submitted stories. Actually, I'm pretty certain that this thought has occurred to me before. But then, real life interrupted my plans and it took me ages to get back on track.

Currently, the swamp monster bubbles up more ideas than I can execute. But there’s no guarantee this will always be the case. Plus, I’m slowly learning to be more discriminating, not all of the snippets arriving on the surface are equally worthy of development. The idea may sound good but either I lack the ability to execute it effectively or the swamp monster loses interest or she forgets to include some vital detail in the original concept.

When a story is contracted or revisions requested or both, the pressure is on. Stress short-circuits the creative process, in addition revising and creating are two entirely different mindsets.

All of these thoughts converged the other day as I considered my writing aspirations. After five years of writing for publication, submitting, getting editorial encouragement, and actually being published (Yahoo! Sorry--it’s still a thrill to see my name on a real cover) I’ve developed a realistic attitude toward rejection. It happens. I learn from it and keep going.

Failure, I’m prepared for. Success…I’m not nearly as experienced with. Here are the tiny little bits I’ve gleaned so far. Be prepared to follow up with another story of the same sub-genre immediately. Having a successful writing career is based on gaining readership. Don’t expect the publisher to do all the heavy lifting by themselves. Get your name out there, promote, but most of all write more exciting stories. It is hands down the best thing you can do.

The idea of an inventory of polished stories, ready to submit, is really for my comfort more than anything else. However, there is another plus to having a backlog, besides stress relief, and insurance against writer’s block, with each story written and polished the writing gets better. In the end, that is what counts. The absorbing story, the unforeseen twists of plot, the engaging characters these are the elements that sell, build readership, and reward the author far beyond royalty checks.

Here's another rather daunting reality, I have a backlog of stories. Completed and polished. But not up to my current standards. Will I be simply adding to that personal slush pile?


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