Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Drawing to a close...

I'm still here, not yet gobbled up by those shifty shadowy things sitting just out of reach of the circus lights, though let me tell you, I've seen a few of the carnival folk muttering about me as I wait for my muse to finish whatever it is he does when he's not directing my hand... (I've never quite had the confidence to ask him either. The way I figure it, so long as he provides me with the stories and keeps me out of the actual planning, then we can carry on living happily together)

The novel is racing towards its climax - 65 pages left to edit. I'm so deep within that stage where it takes up all of my thinking; it's the only thing I want to do, even when I'm at work staring down a microscope, all I'm thinking about is catching up with my muse as soon as I get home.

Me wifey thinks my muse is code for mistress, but I keep telling her it's not... I'm not that mad...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

...and now the Confidence Game...

So you sit and wait, lurking about your inbox like spam, hoping for that email from the editor of such-and-such magazine or anthology you recently sent a story to -

And then one day it's there... your heart lurches as you recognize the sender, and you get a cold flush when you read the subject line and see "Re: 'story name'..."

You open it, almost unable to read the words as they appear, but you do, and then you see it. One single word stands out above all else and it is like a kick in the nether-regions.

'blah-blah-blah, BUT blah-blah-blah...'

Sometimes, 'BUT' is changed with 'UNFORTUNATELY,' but regardless, the overall message is the same; your story will not be published this time.

And that's something you need to cling to - THIS TIME. Your story won't be published this time, but perhaps NEXT TIME it will. You have to cling to that because otherwise you'd buy a gun and go postal on all editors...

Writing is a horrid thing, but I love it and cannot give it up. So I have to push aside the rejections and move on, send those stories back out there.

I got 2 rejections this morning, one from an international magazine and one from an anthology, but it was the anthology I was really bummed about. Damnit! I really dug that story. I thought it was a really good tale, one that would suit their vision of the anthology - but I was wrong.

It IS a good story but one that wasn't right for them. So I've had a look over the story and then sent it out there right away. Good luck little buddy, go make us proud. And if you end up home again, no worries, I'll fix you up and get you out there once more.

You have to persevere in this game. You have to believe in yourself and have the dedication and determination to succeed. I finished my PhD in mid-2005 and it was only then that I was able to completely give myself over to my fiction writing; in that time, I've had 5 short stories published and 1 article coming up, which is a pretty good start.

At times like these, you need little moral boosts like that. I've also been fortunate enough to have had a couple of good reviews written about my few stories, so I go back and read them to remind myself that I can write and I do know what I'm doing.

Then I roll up my sleeves and get stuck into the story I'm working on, more determined than ever before to make it shine...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Playing the Patience Game

I'm currently slugging it out with my novel and finally have it on the ropes... 212 pages finished, polished gold, ready to go, leaving another 82 to pick through and make sure the dots are connected and no loose ends remain. This is the last edit...

It's pretty exciting but quite spooky as well. It's hard enough to send a short story out into the world, let alone a full length novel. Writing for me is very personal, and only when I'm absolutely sure of a story will I send it out into the world, knowing it is going to have to undergo intense scrutiny even before it gets published. Criticism abounds out there, but that's all part of the game. And besides, you can't please everybody so there is no point in trying. So long as you're happy with it, that's all that matters.

The novel is going to take me to new levels of anxiety. Already, I have back up copies and copies of back up copies, one of which is always with me no matter where I go. Dr Paranoid Freak at your service. But then again, this is the result of a year's worth of work, and I'm pretty proud of it.

I've been trying to fit in writing short stories around the novel but they seem to be piling up in my head faster than I can finish them. I put aside Friday's for writing short stories, which is why I only have 5 submissions out there with editors at the moment. I'd really like to increase that to about 15 or 20, but that's not likely until I finish the novel.

Two of those short stories were submitted in January 2006, nearly a year ago now. One magazine has at least been in touch to say the story is slowly making its way through the slushpile, but I've not heard from them for over 2 months now. The other one, well, I'm sure that magazine has gone belly up as there has been no replies to any of my emails. So I think it's time to cut and run, time to take that story elsewhere. Time to find a new home for it.

Okay, intermission is over. Get back to it.