bits and pieces

Tell me if this happens to you. You submit a perfectly written story to a perfectly suited magazine and then you check your email incessantly in the hours and days that follow, certain that the editor is eager to assure you of a wholehearted acceptance.

I have a story called “Travel Light” that is regionally based though its theme and characters are universal. I’ve been sending it around half heartedly to “literary” publications, but so far I’ve not received any responses, much less any rejections (or acceptances). It’s actually a chapter from my stalled novel-in-progress, Larger than Life. (I will return to that someday, perhaps someday soon.)

But as has happened before with me, I realized that there is an ideal publication for it. It’s a “literary” magazine that wants stories based on my region. (Not about the region but grown from experience of the region. Does that make sense?) I sent “Travel Light” to it within hours of having this realization. And then I began visiting my inbox about every hour, looking for the acceptance that I was sure the editor was going to rush to me. That was two long weeks ago. I submitted through Submishmash, and I see that the story’s status has gone from “Received” to “In-Progress.” (Why do they hyphenate that?) That’s good, of course, but where’s that instant acceptance I was sure of?

__________

My beta reader has been working her way through Finnegans Deciphered. Several times a day she’s been sending me emails of this or that error she’s caught. Mostly they are word substitutions — which is my consistent weakness. “Them” instead of “they,” “think” instead of “thing.” That kind of thing. They’re the kind of errors I would miss in my read through since my mind would supply the correct word, being the original writer.

She also pointed out that one bottle of wine could only fill four glasses one time each. I had my four characters drinking glass after glass of wine from the same bottle. Good catch. So they now have two bottles, and only two of the characters are over indulging.

I’ve been making my own way through the manuscript as well, tightening sloppy sentences here and there and mostly looking for places where I can add sensory details. I’d read a blog post by Nancy Pickard some years ago in which an editor thought “something” was wrong with a piece of text but couldn’t say just what and would Pickard please work on it. She said that she simply went into it and added sensory details where she could. She reported that the editor subsequently loved the revision.

__________

No word, of course, from the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest yet. I won’t hear anything (probably rejection) until sometime in March at the soonest. Fortunately, I’m able to put that effort into a little compartment at the back of my mind and leave my thoughts and obsessions free to fret about what to do next. Once I feel Finnegans Deciphered is ready to go, I’ll probably get back in the game of submitting it around. And then I need to think about the next big thing to write. Another Finnegans novel? I have a half dozen in mind. Larger than Life? It’s calling for my love and care. We shall see. Stay tuned.

__________

The word I couldn’t find when I was babbling away about synergy in the last few weeks was “fellowship.” I’m not looking for critique or instruction from a group of writing friends but fellowship: friendly association with people of shared interest. I am, of course, much too lazy to try to create and sustain a local “writers fellowship,” but it would be nice if someone would create one for me. I’d gladly join and raise a glass or raise a point or raise my voice with such a gang.

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One Comment on “bits and pieces”


  1. Fellowship. Yes. With writers, I like that. I’ve been in a writing group, but it was with two friends. So it was critique back when we all needed entire evenings dedicated to critiques, and socializing.

    Since that group faded away, I haven’t sought another group out. My wife has pointed to groups in the area, but I’m just not interested in a large critique group full of people I don’t even know. I’ve worked hard enough that I have some good beta readers and rejections have gone from form letters, to personal letters that usually say, “Liked this, but it’s not quite my thing.”

    So I prefer the company of writers in the same situation. Not that I have to sit and talk writing, but when I find writers I’m comfortable around, I’ve always found time spent in their company to benefit me, if for no other reason than it sometimes gives me hope. After 8-10 hours at the day job (or, in my case, AT the day job — I work with another writer and get to chat writing during the day with him), it’s nice to sometimes sit and chat about work and writing and life. Not critiques or anything like that…just being with people who get it.


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