Saturday, June 20, 2015

Keep writing stories, and keep sending them out

I learned today that has two different form rejections, one a little less form than the other, and that's the one I got today.

Along with the regrets that the short story they read wasn't quite what they were looking for, and luck sending it elsewhere, it includes the line "Please send us more of your work in the future."

I read an interesting article not long ago about the gender split of story submission behavior. It claimed that men, when they receive an encouragement like that, try to follow up as soon as possible (some markets want a gap between your submissions, as a for instance, a week, a month, etc.) and women will sometimes wait up to 6 months, if they submit to that market again at all.

I'm not sure how true it is. I'm not saying it isn't true either. I honestly don't know.

There are a lot of women writers getting published out there. The women who are successful, or becoming successful, could not possibly have been such shrinking violets when it came to submitting their stories. They had to have kept trying, kept sending them out (or been so goddamn brilliant they got published the first time out. I'm sure that happens to some people as well).

And then there's this blog post on The Missouri Review about perseverance (Okay, "stubborn" might get bandied about a bit). I feel like writers who are successful even a little, they persevere. They get the rejection and go "Okay, where can I send this next". Or, "What changes do I need to make so that this becomes a better story?"  I try to do both of these. I've been submitting stories for ten years or so by now and have had one acceptance. It isn't like I'm going to stop writing, so I need to keep being stubborn.

Onwards and upwards, my friends.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

When do you rewrite?

I've gotten more personal rejections this year so far than I did all of last year. So boo, still rejections, but yay, the story was good enough or I made a good enough impression that it garnered that extra little bit of attention, that little boost or hint.

In one of those rejections, it was suggested that the story didn't really seem to be the narrating character's at all. Which was true, really, and I'd known that all along. What I somehow hadn't considered was the notion of rewriting the story so that the narrator and the main character are the same person. Which sounds silly, I know, but we've seen it work the other way. Sherlock Holmes is arguably the main character of, y'know, the Sherlock Holmes stories, but Watson is the narrator for almost all of them.

So this rejection, this personal comment, was the push I needed to start a rewrite on that story.

Not every personal rejection is going to be that way. I've received at least one which seemed kind of....unnecessarily smug. And wasn't actually helpfully suggestive. So that one, while still valuable in its own way, goes in its own category.

Of course, there are also rewrites I've embarked on without outside suggestion. The story itself got enough rejections that I felt it needed severe revisitation. Or, I opened a dusty file some years after the original conception, and thought "well the bones are good, but it needs something....". I've got one story I wrote in college like that, probably more than one, which is looking for a home now. It was originally far more of a vignette, the characters far flatter than (I think) they are now. I feel like I overall have a better sense of story than I did in college.

I know as writers we all have strong similarities and strong differences. We all have our own journey and our own process. So, if and when you rewrite, when do you decide to? How do you get there?

Friday, June 5, 2015

I've never been to LA either

While I was in the throes of working on The Last Song, I blogged about how, though I'd chosen Detroit as it's setting, I'd never been to Detroit. Over a couple of posts, I've tried to discuss the media I was exploring in order to inform my sense of place, because Sense of Place is crucial both as a writer and as a reader. If my novel feels as though it could have happened literally anywhere, and just has the Detroit label slapped on it, well, then I didn't quite do it right.