So I bet some of you have probably been wondering what the heck I’ve been up to recently and why the lack of content on my blog. Well I assure you, it’s not that I’ve been doing nothing this whole time, just that I’m sort of discouraged about what I’ve been working on, and I didn’t feel like sharing all the negative news with you. But it’s confession time; I feel I must come clean about what I’ve been pouring my writing efforts into.
Since the start of 2016 I’ve written several short stories and have been working on a novella for a spec-fic contest. The short stories are pretty good, in my opinion, and they’ve been through beta readers and online critique groups so I feel they’ve been edited enough. One by one I send out the stories to publishers in a strategy that knocks out several stories and several publishers at once. But one by one each story is sent back with a rejection letter stating that the publisher cannot at this time accept the work, but that they wish me the best in selling it elsewhere.
My strategy for sending out the stories is to hit all the major, big league, professional publishers first, since they pay well and getting accepted by them gets me qualified for several other benefits. When I’m turned down by them, because it’s a matter of when not if, I move to the second tier of semi-professional publishers which still pay, just not that much. If a story goes through that whole tier with no love, then I move onto the third and final tier of publishers that may or may not pay, but at least they publish. This tier is full of publishers I’ve already worked with or start-ups that are looking to get author’s names out in the world.
So far everyone of my stories has been rejected by the first tier, and just about all of the second tier has turned me down.
Do you see why I’m at least a little discouraged? I mean, I know that every author has a mountain of rejection letters and that the process of an editor selecting a story from an unsolicited author online is exceptionally fickle to say the least, but still… I’m turning into a Debbie downer over here. Because it’s not just my short stories that are being found wanting.
The past month and half I’ve been slaving over a novella for a sci-fi/fantasy contest with the theme of “Over controlling parents”. Already it’s longer than Greyheart and near the limit of the word count, sectioned out into several chapters. But here’s the thing… I don’t feel like it’s a very good story. The only reason I wrote this story was for the contest, and it clearly won’t be winning. I’m just about at the end and I’m having a hard time convincing myself it’s even worth wrapping up.
Do you know what that feels like? I feel like I’ve just wasted the past month and a half of my life working on this thing for nothing. No one is going to read it outside of the contest, and that’s a good thing. But as I was grumbling over this dysfunctional story the past week, I realized that all of this is a just a learning experience. With each short story I’ve written I’ve learned something from it; either from doing something the wrong way and learning what NOT to do in the future, or by doing something right and getting praise for it. The same rings true for this novella. Granted, it’s not a great story and I don’t see it being published anywhere anytime soon, but I learned a whole lot in the process of writing it. I learned that once I start writing a story I need to finish it, stopping and picking back up days later is rough. I learned that outlining by hand then typing is how I do things best. I learned that since January I’ve written through 3 full spiral notebooks with outlines. And I’m going to learn a lot more before I see the end of this story.
The novella contest is run by writers for writers, so all other authors will also be reading my story and have the opportunity to leave feedback. So even through I’m confident I won’t win, or even place, I’ll at least leave the contest with dozens of critiques and lots of feedback from fellow authors who are looking to help. Just thinking of that helped me view this dark time in my writing with a little more grace.
I’m still writing away in the shadows, I’ve just yet to be noticed. Perhaps someday soon someone will see what I’ve been producing and help push it out to the rest of the world. Perhaps. Until then, I continue to scribble away behind the scenes.