Pen to Paper, Butt in Chair*

I am a terrible slacker.

Though, it’s not even that. I’ve sat down to write here and there over the last few weeks and just ended up staring at the keyboard. Part of it is, honestly, simply needing to suck it up and start typing.

I have a short story I’m poking at, and depending on the day, any of three longer projects still in their larval stages.

I have unfinished stories for pretty much all of my WoW characters – a long overdue one for Threnn, one for Anna that’s been slowly revealing itself to me, one for my troll shaman. I’m thinking that poor Davien needs to claw her way back into the world of plot progression.

It’s not even something I’d describe as writer’s block. The stories are there, waiting. I’ve been neglectful, letting them go untouched. I can blame a bit of it on waiting to hear back from Weird Tales about “Kate.” As much as I know the rule goes something like, “write something, clean it up, submit it, then start working on the next thing while you’re waiting for an answer,” I stalled out anyway.

Well, I heard back this weekend, and the answer is no. It doesn’t surprise me, really, and I’m not all that disappointed. I will probably look around for other places to submit it and send it back out into the wilds of “HAI, PUBLISH MAH STUFFZ” once more, but it’s kind of a monster. “Kate” clocks in at somewhere around 6,000 words, pushing the upper limits of what magazines are looking for in their short fiction submissions. I’m sure there are things that can be cut, and reworking that can be done, but I’m not sure if one rejection is the signal to overhaul the whole thing (after all, it went through several revisions before I decided it was time to submit.)

I’m also sorely tempted to not resubmit it just yet, shove it back into the drawer from whence it came, and forget about it for another year or two. I don’t feel like it’s my strongest work, even though others have disagreed. Putting myself in an editor’s shoes, I don’t know if I’d select it for publication. Question is, am I saying that because I’m doubting the strength of my own writing, or because I really, really don’t think it’s all that great?

Pretty sure it’s the latter. I could point you to pieces I’m proud to say I’ve written, and every single one of them would be stronger (in my mind) than “Kate.” (And if anyone would like to test the veracity of this claim, I’m happy to email “Kate” to you or share the google doc.)

Anyway, it’s odd – now that the rejection has officially come, I feel more motivated to work on other things. Isn’t it supposed to be the opposite? Shouldn’t I be doubling up on the “I am such a hack” whining?

So. The cobwebs seem to be clearing. Productivity shall recommence.

*Butt-in-Chair Time: one of the most important keys to writing, as told by Uncle Jim.

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One Response to Pen to Paper, Butt in Chair*

  1. Lori says:

    Things you know but that I’m going to say anyhow:

    The rule is indeed, “write something, clean it up, submit it, then start working on the next thing while you’re waiting for an answer.” Stalling while you wait seems to happen a lot of the time anyhow. I think the justification goes along the lines of “well, if that one is no good then what’s the point of writing any other ones?” You are perfectly normal. (IMO)

    Never assume that one rejection (or ten) mean that you need to rework your story. Editors are looking for stories that fit in their publication–a rejection does not necessarily mean your story is flawed, merely that it didn’t strike the fancy of the particular editor who read it on the particular day that s/he read it. You know the saying about the horse and getting back on it? Yeah. None of us ever feel that anything we write is as perfectly done as it can be. Ever. Use your best judgment on whether it needs reworking, but don’t let your subconscious trick you into thinking you’re being sensible when what you really are is scared.

    Scared is perfectly normal.

    I’d love to see “Kate,” if for no other reason than it’s yours. I can also pretend that once I’ve read it, I may or may not have some market suggestions for you. (I’ve been out of the loop for a couple of years, but I’ve been doing more reading of short fiction in recent months.)

    The thing about how a rejection made you feel more motivated? It happens to me, too. I don’t get it, either. Maybe we’re both perfectly normal?

    Go, productivity. Get those cobwebs!


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