My Writing, Writing

Mini-Update

I have been light on writing-related work this year. No Short Story Challenge, and definitely no other brand new work. I’ve spent most of my available free time on editing and whipping older pieces into shape. Per my records, I have about 28 of these essays and short stories that I need to whittle and carve to perfection, or at least start submitting them if I find I cannot revise and edit them any more.

Despite that I have a couple of acceptances to report. One was my short story targeted for a YA audience, titled Miss Quit which found a home in the lit mag Youth Imagination. I wrote this as part of the Short Story Challenge 2014, and it had been simmering ever since. When I did finally send it out I got a fairly quick acceptance.

The second was my article for writers, titled The Maturation of a Writer at Walrus Publishing. I wrote this last year on the spur of the moment one day, while reflecting on the differences I felt as a more experienced writer now compared to when I had started out.

Do read them and tell me what you think! Feel free to post links to your own recently published work in the comments below!

My Writing

Of This and That

The last few months have been busy, both with work and a few unfortunate health issues cropping up, no thanks to the absolutely indeterminate weather that vacillates between extreme heat and sudden coolness.

But I’m happy to share a few acceptances that have come my way:

The Curse of the Working Mother in So Glad They Told Me: Women On Getting Real About Motherhood

The Kernel of Truth in Inspired by Gandhi Writing Competition

The Wrath of Sephilemea in Kelly Ann Jacobson’s Dear Robot Anthology

A Legacy of Lies in Cracked Eye

The first two are nonfiction while the next two are fiction. This year has seen an equal mix of my stories and essays finding placement in respectable journals.

I continue to write one story per month for the Short Story Challenge. In recent weeks finding the time has proved a real challenge, but I take the deadline seriously.

A small change to the blog has been affected. My ‘Published Works’ page now links to separate pages for my fiction, essays and other works. The change was long overdue, as the original page was crammed with information and wasn’t easily navigable.

Click on over and tell me what you think!

My Writing

New Beginnings and 2014 Wrap-up

Happy New Year, everyone! The year begins on a positive note. My humorous essay Its Not Personal is up at Page & Spine on The Writer’s Table. 2014 had been a stellar year for me in terms of my writing. I managed a grand total of 80k words which amounts to little more than 200 words a day. The breakup is as follows:

19 short stories
16 essays
10 pieces of flash fiction/nonfiction
12 blog posts

I made a total of 165 submissions:
Accepted – 15
Rejected – 108
Withdrawn – 8
Submitted – 23

The rest were no responses, even from markets that don’t have a ‘No response means no’ policy. Those befuddle me a little, but I understand there might be reasons for this, so for me it’s just better to chalk it up as a lost cause and move on.   On the final day of the year I received 3 rejections. Ouch! Luckily I’ve grown too thick-skinned to allow this to affect me! I have renewed my commitment to the Short Story Challenge, and will continue writing one a month for 2015. Among other writerly tasks, revising the stories I’ve written and submitting them is of paramount importance. If I don’t work on that soon then I’ll land up having acquired a platoon of stories and no action taken on them.

It hasn’t been a great year for me in terms of reading as I finished only around 20 books this year, a record all-time low for me. However I’ve made up for it by reading tons of short stories and entire issues of literary journals, both to understand markets I intend to submit to as well as to analyze the components of well-written fiction and non-fiction.

Resolutions are passé, or they should be, at least for people like me who never manage to keep them. However I do plan to commit to my writing and make time for it as much as possible.

What are your plans for the New Year?

Writing

Acceptances, Rejections and Everything in between

Any writer worth his salt is writing and sending out stories, essays and articles, one painstaking word document at a time. But submitting means opening yourself up to rejections and heartache. Once in a while, a rollicking acceptance mail lands in your inbox, rendering the previous rejections null and void. That makes it all worth it. Read on for what else to expect when you brave the big bag world of story submission.

The Good

The high that you get when an acceptance lands in your inbox is incomparable. Considering most writers log around 10 to 20 rejections per acceptance, the glow you get from reading the editor’s positive words has to sustain you for at least another few rejections. It has to tide you over for the stream of rejections that might follow this one.

My first reaction is to thank the editor for the good news, and then tackle the editing changes he has outlined, if any. So far, I’ve received minor edits for my stories which did not require much back and forth email exchanges with the editor.

If you receive a contract to sign, do look it over carefully and accord it the same importance reserved for signing other official documents. Important things to look for are rights (don’t sign all away!) and payments (if you’re getting paid).

You will also receive a final version of the story to proofread and check one last time. Ensure that you go through it carefully and not cast a cursory glance at your words.

In my email inbox, I label these as simply “Acceptances”. The best part about getting an acceptance – the editors usually write something like ‘I loved your story’ or ‘I really enjoyed your story’. Receiving and reading appreciative emails like these is rare. For the solitary art of writing, moments like this are few and are between.

The Bad

This includes personalized rejections, or those in which you find that your piece weathered several rounds of reading but just missed the final cut. These letters evoke a kind of sweet pain. You did good but not good enough.

You can do two things at this time:

  1. Send it out to another market immediately. The rejection could simply mean the subjective nature of the business did you in. Or,
  2. Go back to the drawing board and revise it. This is especially true if you received specific feedback on some aspect of your story which you had not noticed before. An editorial eye might reveal any number of flaws or inconsistencies that the writer or critique partners simply can’t catch.

Refer the Rejection Wiki to check which tier of rejection you received (form, personal, etc).

If I ever get a personalized rejection that mentions specific reasons for my piece not getting selected, I label these as “Good Learnings” in my inbox, and look over them retrospectively once in a while to make sure I’m not committing any of the same mistakes. Also the editor’s comments are important because (assuming they are positive) you can quote these while submitting to the same editor again, reminding him that you came close once earlier.

The Ugly

I once had a story rejected in three days. Its penultimate sentence states (and I paraphrase here to protect the guilty)

Your submission lacks the literary qualities necessary for our magazine…”

I have received my fair share of rejections and for the most part I feel a pang of disappointment when I read them, but this one stung. To add insult to injury, the last sentence states, “We hope you are not discouraged and will continue writing.”

This is like stabbing the writer in the heart and then drawing the knife out cleanly so you may dab ointment on the inflicted wound. The balm has no effect, and the damage has already been done. The heart of the writer is destroyed, stamped out, even if momentarily, for surely the scribbler will pick up the pieces of his shattered soul and send out submission packages with renewed vigour the following week.

After all, literary merit is highly subjective. Luckily this story of mine got placed in another well-paying magazine, so I didn’t shed too many tears on this rebuff.

How do you handle acceptances and rejections?