Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Two! Two rejections! [Thunder crashes]


So what happened?
Well, this time was the same a the first time. It didn't really sting. "No" is never what you want to hear, but admittedly I aimed pretty high. I fired off a story that I wrote in a couple days to a pretty well-known sci-fi publication. Once again, it was a polite "didn't work for me, but try it out elsewhere" which is a nice sentiment if it isn't a template. I didn't really expect to make it, but it felt like everything clicked with this one and I thought, why not go for it? I'm glad to have gotten some encouragement even in rejection. In my head though, I imagine that some people can be pretty psychotic when they get rejected.

I used to watch American Idol as a guilty pleasure, more so for the freak show that is the first several episodes. I couldn't believe that some of those people could be so deluded that they come completely unglued at being told 'no'. I have since found out that reality shows aren't as real as they pretend to be, (I know, right!?) and they hand-pick the crazies to get them on the air for ratings. I almost feel dirty for having contributed in any capacity. I never did call in to vote though.

No, William. She does not "bang".

Anyway, I imagined the insane response letters that the poor fellow must have gotten over the years. The arguing, the indignation, the (I hesitate to use the term) butthurt. I hate to think it, but I feel like he has to be as diplomatic as possible. Even if he hated my story, (there's no way he would though because it is a work of genius inspired by the Gods themselves) he can't just write a rejection that says, "your story arranged words in such a fashion that caused cancer in myself and everyone here. Please stop writing for the good of yourself and those around you." I'm sure he would have loved to write something like that on at least one occasion, but you can't be like that. It just invites more hate mail. 

This is part of why I don't like sending my stuff to friends for beta reading. With the exception of one or two folks, I know that most of what I'm going to hear is positive, no matter what. "I loved it!" and "Great job!!!!1" are nice to hear, and there's nothing wrong with cheerleading. The problem is that I am looking for what doesn't work. I need to hear the bad or I can't fix it. Now, this man is not an editor. It's not his job to critique my work, just to see if it's right for his magazine (which it totally is, he's just too blind to my genius to realize what a gem he had on his hands). So I don't expect criticism from submitting.

I guess what I'm trying to say is I need a critique partner. Any takers?

I'm totally open to criticism, I swear.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Not Writing is OK Sometimes...

I haven’t been writing for very long. The first time I even attempted to write a story in my adult life was sometime in 2009. Through most of that time, I just went ahead and tried to write a story. That was it. I didn’t think about structure, or conflict, or anything. I just went ahead and did what I thought needed to be done. I went on instinct.

It turns out, you can do it that way. There are people who can just write a good story. I am not so sure I’m one of those people.

Wait, what?

For the rest of us, there are lots of places to go to learn about these things. There are unlimited sources on the internet, many of which don’t cost you anything. You don’t even need to leave the house. Chuck Wendig’s blog Terrible Minds is a great one. He has terrific series of “25 things” posts about writing, ranging from specific advice about crafting your story, to work habits, to just general advice for writers. He also routinely has writing prompts and exercises to keep those writing muscles limber (see the last blog post before this one).

See Illustration.

Another great source, and one I’ve not found an equal to, is the podcast Story Wonk Sunday. Lani and Alastair’s podcast has been around for as long as I have been writing, but I only just came across it last fall. Theirs is unique because it covers all story telling in its various forms. Not just novels, but also film, TV, even internet shows and video games. If it tells a story, then the “wonks” are all over it. I spent a good deal of time devouring their back catalog and have learned more about storytelling from them in a few months than I ever thought I’d know. I also leaned what a "wonk" is.

A "wonk" in its natural habitat.

Anyway, this is as much a pep talk for myself as it is an infodump. I haven’t written in several days on account of being sucked down the rabbit hole of World of Warcraft once again, but I am always thinking about story, and always working out the next thing in my head. Listening to podcasts and reading blogs about story keeps it in my head and helps me fill the reservoir.

Make sure you at least check out these two, Terrible Minds and Story Wonk. The latest episode Of Story Wonk features Lani and Alastair discussing a very interesting and insightful listener email from yours truly geeking out about Adventure Time. Be sure to listen because of reasons.