From Thursday until yesterday, I experienced an odd and somewhat unnerving phenomenon……no rejections. None. Not a one. In fact, until yesterday, with over 100 pending submissions–not a peep one way or the other. It was creepy. The rejections, at least, remind me that I’m keeping busy.
Last week was a slow submissions week. CRWOPPS was on hiatus, and New Pages only updated once or twice. So last week I spent a lot of my “productive time” writing. During this odd downtime of not many calls for submissions and not a peep of rejection, I did have oh yay, my first troll and a sort of throw-down with someone I’ve considered a peer who takes issue with my “Quit whining and just do it” postings…..on my own blog. I’m not the first author or prospective author to post along those lines. Two of my favorite motivational tools are other writer’s postings along the same lines:
1) Doc Hammer’s “Some Oil Tips“– I’ve mentioned this one before, and before you get all, “Wah! I’m not a painter, blarg!”–once you disregard the painting-specific tips (the stuff about linseed oil and brushes, canvas sizes, etc.) what remains is a very strong manifesto on art, its creation, how incredibly discouraging the process is, how little affirmation there is in it, and WHY YOU SHOULD QUIT WHINING ABOUT ALL THOSE THINGS AND DO IT ANYWAY.
2) “25 Things Writers Need To Quit Doing (Right Fucking Now)”, Chuck Wendig
Also check out (his whole fucking blog) but in particular:
25 Things Writers Need To Know About Rejection. Special words of wisdom: “Harden the fuck up, Care Bear.”
How To Be a Writer (Lorrie Moore) is also good for a laugh, and some sad, hard truths.
By all means, if it’s more fun to roll around in the things that didn’t work out and yell every other week about how you’re going to give up, because you want all your friends to say, “Oh noes, don’t do that!”….go ahead. If it’s more productive to channel the desire to write into 5 paragraph diatribes on what the fuck ever on other people’s Facebook walls…….have fun. Meanwhile, here’s what I find more productive. That “being as prolific as I claim”? My writing process is widely varied and dependent on how inspired I feel. Yeah–remember how you may have gotten all huffy and indignant about what you took to mean you, snowflake? I said, “That’s fine, there are all kinds of writers”……because there’s lots of times where I write that way. If I’m on what I call a “hot streak”, no amount of tiredness, low battery flashing or lack of proper thing to write with/on can stop me. If I am UNmotivated……hmm. Well, let’s just say that those are the perfect times to submit work, edit work, or ponder things in progress, drafts I’m not entirely happy with, false starts and my file of abandoned lines.
No one pays my rent. I work 40 hours a week. Before I started grad school, I also held a 20+/hr week second job, which when the salon went belly-up last October, I didn’t look to replace, knowing I was starting an MFA program and would need that 20+ hours freed up for school work. I go into work 30-45 minutes early every day. I like the quiet of the office and use that time to look over calls for submissions and send some out. Sometimes I write during that time but it’s usually more focused of submitting because that’s a task where 30-45 minutes of concentrated attention can accomplish a lot. With writing, 30-45 minutes can slip by so quick it’s frustrating to have to stop, switch gears, clock in and do my paying job. Most days I use my lunch hour to write, edit, or submit. It all depends on what I’ve got going on. Most days I stay at work after I’ve clocked out for 30-45 minutes, for the same reason as I do when coming in early. It’s quiet, my office space is conducive to work, and I’m already in a “work” frame of mind. There aren’t absolutes. Sometimes I’m lazy and want 15 more minutes to sleep. Sometimes I’m hungry and want to go have lunch with a friend. Sometimes I’m anxious to get home. But on average– there’s part of my time. After work, some days I go up to the lake for coffee. I might write for 15 minutes, 4 hours, or not at all. I may come straight home, and the same could be true. 30 minutes, nothing, or up till 5 a.m. Just depends.
Right now: This story isn’t going to unfuck itself:
-I’ve got a 95% finished short story that I’m really happy with.
-I have a recently finished story that the last 2 pages need work, but I needed to step back from. The story went from being a 500 word flash fragment to an almost 9,000 word actual story in the course of a long weekend. We both need to breathe a little bit before I can revise and edit it clearly.
-have a few fragments that I want to be stories, but am not sure if I have the attention for them right now. I’ve got at least two pieces where I’ve got a paragraph and not much else, two more that are about half-completed, one that all the research is done and the outline’s done, but there’s been no *actual writing* done, and at least three others that I’ve written down the ideas for but haven’t followed through on. Before I start ANYTHING else, I’ve GOT to deal with all these ha;f-done projects, because they’re just pieces that I can’t send out, and I’m actually running out of things to submit. (Yeah, troll. I guess because “more people think I really suck at life” I guess “I should just give it up”. WAIT NO JUST KIDDING IF LEGIT EDITORS REJECTING ME DON’T MAKE ME STOP TRYING THEN I GUESS A WHINY LITTLE TROLL WON’T EITHER!)
Here’s the most fun part– right now, I’m stuck at home, waiting to hear lab results. For about a week, I’ve had a miserably sore throat, which I attributed to a) the fact that I smoke and b) the fact that Tallahassee is dripping with pollen and it’s just awful. So I just chalked it up to the sinus infection that hasn’t seem to have ended for the last 4 years for me, took some Sudafed and aspirin, and tried to get through the worst of it. By Sunday afternoon, my throat sort of felt like I’d been gargling with lava or practicing a new extreme-swallowing stunt with flaming pinecones. Having never had strep throat or mono before, it wasn’t until texting with a friend that I even thought about looking in my throat.
If you’ve never seen strep or mono……save yourself the horror of that image. Just go to the doctor already. So I spent the rest of Sunday night hysterically crying and freaking out because it looks like my throat has been splashed with battery acid. Yesterday at the doctor’s office……Strep A (most common form) test came back negative. Swabbed for Mono and Strep B, which has to be sent off to a lab for processing. So not even my illness can be straightforward. In the meantime, since I am allergic to all the penicillin based things that might make me feel better, with luck…..they’ve prescribed an antibiotic that’ll end up being useful for what I’m actually sick with. Also, the insurance I currently have doesn’t cover the mouth/throat rinse that would alleviate the pain of the inflamed throat. $40 please. Ha ha. You must think I’m a successful writer or something.
So I’m stuck at home, with plenty of time on my hands to write and submit and a ebb/flow of fever and chills that while making for some pretty vivid and fantastical dreams……isn’t exactly feeding anything creatively. Also: to write anything more than a stream-of-consciousness blog post makes my brain feel rather like applesauce. I’d rather not go back later and have to edit out pages of applesauce induced blatherings from “real writing”, so I guess we’re just going to call these next few days a wash.
8:45 p.m., edit/update: “The Wolfman’s Daughter” got picked up by Pure Francis Weekly Journal of the Arts today. According to my Duotrope tracking, after 50+ rejections. What was that about getting discouraged? It’s all statistics, and getting work in front of the right set of eyes.