An avalanche of rejections in April left me feeling a bit discouraged, and now I find myself procrastinating, reluctant to make new submissions. I’m still writing, but the stories are slower to form. My fickle attention has started to wander, distracted by the unexplored magic of bookbinding, ballroom dance and hand-built clay pizza ovens.
I know the time has come to settle down to the work of writing, navigate this first major speed bump and see whether there’s any real potential for me here. I need to re-motivate. This morning I decided to lay it all out and take a look at my progress.
I started crafting fiction about a year and a half ago, ending a long dry spell in my writing life. I hadn’t written anything since the free verse poetry of my college years, and rediscovering a fascination with words and how they fit together was exciting. Short stories presented me with a whole new set of challenges– tricky technical details like choosing the right point of view, building a logical plot, and clarifying motive.
In August I joined the online writer’s site Scribophile. It’s a great resource and I’ve been busy critiquing and learning from other writers. The community is supportive, with many thoughtful members who are willing to share their knowledge. Fiction is still a blind grope in the dark for me most of the time, but with help I’m developing a better understanding of the basics.
Once I felt somewhat comfortable with allowing other people to read my work, I began to research markets and send out submissions. A couple of pieces were accepted early on, but since then I’ve seen only politely worded versions of “thanks, but no”.
Here are my stats as of 25 June 2011:
Short stories: 10
Flash Fiction: 7
Microfiction / Prose Poetry: 14
Short story: 1
Most of these pieces stand under the umbrella of magical realism, but there’s also some literary stuff, quirky romance, and soft science fiction. The shorter pieces in particular walk the line between prose and poetry and are difficult to classify.
Rejections: 39 (13 personal responses, 26 form letters)
Pending Response: 16
Waiting to be submitted or re-submitted: 20
That’s a decent amount of writing. I’ve learned a lot, and my skills are improving. I’m making a honest effort toward publication. Now if I can just stay focused, keep my spirits up and resist the lure of pine needle basketry, I’ll be fine.
My goals for July? Finish one new story, revise some older stuff, read up on how to craft an awesome plot, and make eight submissions. I think I’ll get a jump start and go submit something right now.