(Hrm. I can’t seem to get the image to straighten. You get the drift.)
Saturday the paper proof for The Lisa Chronicles Vol 1 showed up and having a solid form of my book in my hand feels awesome.(I borrowed the design heavily from an existing traditional publisher as I liked the simplicity of the style.) There are some minor corrections that need to be done.Even the low resolution pictures (times were different back in the late ’90s) were not as grainy as I would have thought. Overall, I am pretty pleased with how the book turned out.
I’ve got a post brewing on freeing the content but the short version is I’m providing .pdf and .mobi versions of my work for free on this website as well as putting the ebook and print copies for sale at fine retailers such as Amazon and Kobo.
Speaking of books, I sent the manuscript for my first chapbook to my editor and the return wasn’t as bad as I thought. While I’m gungho on doing the printing and such myself, I’m wavering on having it professionally published mainly because of the marketing angle. I can boast on freeing the content and getting my work into as many hands as possible,all I want but I do want to get some kind of token payment for my work.
Publications brings me to rejections.
Ray Bradbury is credited with the “write one, submit one” methodology. It’s self-explanatory: You write one piece and you submit a piece every week. (I’ve also seen write one submit one daily but that is some crazy shit.) The more you write, the better you get, and even if you make one sale, it’s enough to keep you going as soon you’ll have two sales and so forth and so on.
Mr. Bradbury goes into more detail below.
Right now I’m ahead of the game: I wrote and submitted ten pieces in February, had one acceptance and three rejections. Even if the other six reject me, I’m still coming out a winner.
But the rejection still hurts. The sting was intensified when two of the rejections came in one day. WHY WON’T THEY UNDERSTAND MY PROWESS WITH WORDS??
Mr. Bradbury continues he went through a similar thing, we all go through a similar thing. You look back at your earlier work and see how terrible it is because it is terrible. You’re a beginner at this game and no one is going to excel coming out of the gate. But you don’t know until you submit and get rejected.
I found this sentiment to be particularly true of a piece, Palmistry for Beginners, I wrote a couple of years ago. A speculative piece, I posited the question of what if we could change our life if we changed the major lines on our palms. If you’re not familiar with palmistry, the idea is the lines on your palms represent different aspects of your life (love, health, wealth, life, etc) and they can also predict the future. I’m not sure if I buy into this wholly BUT I once went to a palm reader who predicted a breakup with a major boyfriend which happened two days later; I would have no kids, and I would get married twice. So far she’s at 90% and as Mr. Lisa and I have talked about getting married again, she’d be 100% correct. Coincidence? Sure, but sometimes there could be bigger things at stake.
I’m asiding here. Back to my short story.
I sent the piece to a speculative fiction site and it got rejected. I revised the story a year later and it too got rejected. I still couldn’t understand why. A year after that, I re-read the piece and it was terrible. Tenses were all over the place, the plot dropped and came back and dropped again. I would reject me.
I started revising again and found the original story needed to be double the length to get the plot fully fleshed out and coherent. This is a story I’m going to have to diagram / comment / note take / and whatever implement I need to use to get it into shape.
This will be the hardest story I’ve written at this point.
In this process, I learned a couple of things about myself:
- I cannot use my bipolar mania, which I am horribly guilty of doing, to conflate everything I write as a Pulitzer piece
- I need to figure out a writing style and stick to it. It’s okay to change direction but that direction depends on the type of work. I’m enamoured of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Bukowski but I write, for now, like some James Joycian and Virginia Woolf bastard step-child. I like clean and succinct writing styles. Getting a sure footing on my voice will make a huge difference instead of changing to ten different voices in the span of a single piece.
- As some of my work is not a linear introduction, conflict, resolution style, this is not a bad thing. Finding a market for it may be difficult but I need to get into the groove of what makes me feel good as I write. “Write what I want to read” is hammered all over writing blogs.
- All ideas are good ideas. Even if they seem ridiculous, an idea is better than no idea. Some of my ideas are terrible but that’s okay. I have ideas.
- Revise. Send it to my editor. Revise again. Rinse, lather, repeat.
A year ago I would have given but rejection gives me hope and forces me to be a better writer and in the end, isn’t what is most important of all?