I haven’t sold a story in over 5 years, and I’d like to think that I’ve improved in those 5 years… so that leads me to believe that even if my writing is technically better, I must not be writing what sells.
I thought for a minute that I’d better find out what sells, and try to write that. So I read some recent stories published in places that I regularly submit to, and found that I can’t stand them and would be embarrassed to have written them.
So… what does it all mean? In order to be published in the well-paying magazines, I have to write something with a broad appeal… But I don’t really like things with broad appeal… so, I probably should stop submitting to these places. Which I have.
As of now I’m exclusively submitting my stories to nonpaying markets. Because… socialism? And also because places that aren’t trying to make money might actually want to publish something they like, instead of something they are worried about other people liking.
Version two of this blog post:
No one wants to publish my writing so I’m going to tell myself it’s because I’m just too good for this world, and somehow turn this into a positive for myself.
Writing is hard. I keep waiting to feel that thrill of a new idea, but while I’m waiting for that elusive, magical power… I’m not writing.
Not writing is bad. So, I got to stop waiting and start typing, even if it’s uninspired crap. It’s better than laying around waiting to be moved by a universe that doesn’t care!
I have three stories out at various magazines waiting for a response, and two of them are past the time I normally should have been rejected by. It’s getting me very excited and I keep checking my email, it’s been years since I sold a short story…
Of course, now that I’ve blogged about it I’ll probably get all three rejection letters in the next ten minutes…
I’ve had 4 submissions this year… and am still waiting on two of them, and will be sending out another one next week. Good to be getting back into it! I’m determined to get a couple more sales under my belt, it’s been way too long!
My stories have improved over the years, so I just need to write more of them. That’s part of my goals for this year, along with all the editing I need to do…
The key is to send them out, everywhere, constantly. I haven’t been doing that until recently, and thus… no sales. So I’m starting again, and will not stop! Since now I have the super power of being able to write two things at once, I am going to be sure I always have one or two stories out there waiting to be read by some editor.
It will work… eventually!
Hopefully you can read a new short story by me in a magazine soon!
I’m in the mood to destroy words! I think I’d better not, though, until at least a couple other people tell me the targeted words are bad. Otherwise I might just erase everything…
Now that I’ve got a bit of experience slush reading at our new magazine, I can say ‘start at the action’ with even more certainty than ever.
When you’re reading someone else’s story, who you don’t know, and have no preconceptions about, it is a lot easier to see faults. One fault being ‘I have no desire to keep reading this because nothing is happening.’ If your friend or family wrote the story, you want to see what happens because you are curious about the ideas in the head of someone you care about. But, most other people reading that story might get bored…
If your story is about a bank robbery, start at the bank. A detailed account of the afternoon leading up to the robbery is going to lose 90% of your readers, even if it’s really great prose. Short stories aren’t novels, people don’t know what they are about or what to expect, so you have to let them know what the story is about right away and give them a reason to keep reading.
I think I will learn a lot about writing from the experience with this magazine!
Writing takes love, self confidence, optimism, and hope in order to complete anything. But editing, I am coming to believe, takes hate, pessimism, and self-disgust.
A writer has to be two people, two halves isolated from each other–the writing half is an excited person full of energy and love for the words they are creating (ideally). But when its time to edit, you better hate those words enough to slash them to pieces and bury them in an unmarked grave, all while laughing and spitting on them for how terrible they are.
Have I mastered this? I don’t know. But it helps, I think, to imagine the words as someone else’s. Some other me who is a terrible writer and I can scoff at their incompetence and point out every single flaw. Then once everything is highlighted and marked and notated, I can turn back into the creative optimist and fix it all up.
That’s the plan anyway. It is pretty hard!