Monday, May 21, 2012

Rejection Collection

I have mentioned before that I have a positive relationship with my rejection letters. I have been submitting things and being rejected for them for years--honestly I do not even remember how long ago my first submission was. Sadly, that letter is lost. The earliest letter that I have saved in my collection is from the summer of 2004. That may not sound so long ago, but at the time I was 16 and preparing to enter my senior year of high school, so it certainly seems ages ago to me!

I am in dead seriousness when I say I have a collection. Proof:

Sure, it's cheesy. (Yes, that is crayon!) But I love it. Even when I receive them by email, I print them out so I can add them to my binder. It reminds me that, however stagnant I might feel, I do produce work. Okay, maybe not work that anyone wants to publish, but so what? No one gets published right away. And someday, when I do get that yes, I will have this as proof that I have worked my butt off.

So today, as I sent off a slew of queries, I am not scared about the rejections I know I'll get back. I'm excited to add to my rejection collection!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What Kind of Dog Do I Have?

Well, none, because I'm not a dog person.

But that's not the point, obviously, or it would be both a very short and very non-writing-related post!

So currently my beta reader is my boyfriend, after my other beta readers flaked out and he kept insisting he wanted to read some of my writing. I like letting him read it, but I also know it's not really what I need. Because, you know, even though I make him swear to be honest, at the end of the day he still wants to sleep with me. But he still has some good insights, and he isn't completely sugarcoating it.

The other day he was reading a book I recommended to him (The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch) and he pointed out a paragraph in the scene he was reading. "I'm glad you don't do stuff like this." (I'm a better writer than Scott Lynch! Well maybe not...) What he was referring to was a descriptive paragraph that had nothing to do with the scene. My writing tends to be very action-oriented--my polite way of saying that I hate writing description and have entirely too little of it. So then my boyfriend pointed out to me another paragraph in the scene where the description is integrated into what is actually happening. "I like that," he told me. "And you do that really, really well. But you don't do it enough."

And he's right. Adding description is one of the biggest things I try to do on re-writes, and it's hard. It would be a lot easier to go back and cut unnecessary crap out than try and shoehorn in more. I know my writing is too lean--this WIP is sitting right at about 80k words--and it's frustrating as hell.

So what my boyfriend told me is that some books are like Great Danes. Huge and thick and full of everything. And that maybe my book is a poodle--and no matter how much I feed it, it's never going to be a Great Dane or a German Shepherd.

That shook me pretty deeply. This WIP is the best thing I've got, and now I'm facing the idea that I can mess around with it forever but it will never be good enough. That I need to start over, at 0 words, with another idea. That terrifies me.

I'm not giving up on this WIP. I'm through 12 chapters of my rewrite and going to start shopping it again when I'm finished. But now I'm excited to start something new and see how much better I can do this time around. After all, I did first start working on this WIP when I was 16. Hopefully by now I've got something bigger than a poodle trying to get out.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Wishful Thinking

I haven't updated the blog recently because I was really, really hoping that my next post would be one with good news. I submitted a couple of my short stories to a few different publications back in March, and I had a good feeling about them. Maybe something would come of it, even if just a little nibble in the form of a personalized rejections.

(Rejections, honestly, do not faze me. I've been collecting rejection letters since I was like 12, and it is always the expected outcome. But hey, at least it means I'm trying! I only wish I hadn't lost some of my rejection letters over the years and moves.)

Anyway, here we are now, and it is May and I haven't heard anything. Not a peep. It's been about 5 weeks, which was generally listed as the response time, so I'll either start hearing soon or I'll know it wasn't meant to be this time. It's a little disheartening (give me a rejection letter any day, but sitting around waiting is killer!), but it's not like I've been sitting around twiddling my thumbs. I've been working busily on my rewrite of my novel.

So it's not quite the good news I was hoping to post, but it is good news. I've finished eight chapters--there are only eighteen in all, so I'm almost half done. And now that I'm finished at work for a while, I am getting one or two chapters done every day. I should be finished with this rewrite by the end of next week. And THAT is good fucking news.