One publication that had been considering one of my manuscripts abruptly closed its doors a few days ago. While it was very disappointing, I didn’t let this get the better of me. I believe that in writing, the biggest enemy an author can face is his or her own disappointment. The odds of acceptance are never great, and except for a few rare, lucky people, most writers need a day job to make ends meet. So when you look at it, the payoff for the amount of energy expended can actually be quite low. So why do it?
Out of love. Out of a desire to prove to oneself that it is possible to get published. For the joy of sharing something personal, and knowing that other people are reading and enjoying it, too. For the simple joy of creating something out of nothing. These are my motivations, and they are why I don’t let setbacks get me down.
What are your motivations?
Posted by geoffgander on February 24, 2011
Although it would be wonderful to be able to write a story, submit the first draft, and have it accepted for publication right away, this isn’t likely. The odds of lightning striking the same place twice would be more favourable.
What this means, is that a writer should be persistent, but also flexible. If a piece gets rejected (for whatever reason) by several publications in the same genre, it might be a good idea to recast the story in a different one if possible. For example, let’s suppose you have written a science fiction action story with a Dashing Hero, a Mission of Utmost Importance, a Despicable Hero, and a Really Cool Spaceship. The idea is sound, the story flows well, the dialogue is well crafted, and there is an appropriate balance of action, tension, and a bit of humour. Unfortunately, despite being well written no publisher will take it. Does that mean you should abandon it? No!
The elements of the very rough plot outline provided above could easily be recast as a western (make the spaceship a trusty steed), a fantasy story, a high seas adventure (the ship is now a sailing vessel), or an espionage thriller (you might even be able to keep the spaceship). Naturally, you should pick a new genre that interests you, but you should also do a bit of market research to help you make your decision. Is the new genre saturated right now? Are there any red-hot new series out there that might overshadow your work? A diligent search, including visiting publishers’ websites, can help answer these questions, and others you might have. If all else fails, you can always contact the company or send a query letter, to gauge their interest.
All this to say, if your manuscript seems to be going nowhere, don’t be so quick to throw it away. All it might need is a little recasting.
Posted by geoffgander on February 16, 2011
No, it’s not mine, but *ahem* anyhow…
In support of my fellow authors at Solstice, I’m passing on some information about a contest that is running from February 8th – 28th.
If you want to be entered into a draw to win a signed copy of the “Celebrate the Season” anthology, all you need to do is visit one of the two websites listed below and post, “I want to celebrate” in either the comments or guestbook sections.
Posted by geoffgander on February 7, 2011
It’s amazing where story ideas can come from. You can be going about your business, thinking nothing of it, and then it happens. You see or hear something interesting, it sparks an idea, and all of a sudden you have one or two possible plots for a story. It’s almost magical.
Here is an example from today. I was having coffee with a friend in the underground plaza beneath our offices, and he made a remark about how many people were milling about in the food court. He was right – it was far more than normal. I suggested that maybe there was a board meeting or something similar in one of the neighbouring hotels that were reachable by tunnel. This led him to mention that he had seen a group of office drones enter a service tunnel next to one of the underground meeting rooms that were nearby, and not come out.
Now this was odd, I thought. I could understand food court or mailroom staff using the service tunnels, but not people like ourselves. You didn’t need to use them to reach the parking lot, so why would they go in, and not come out again? My imagination started firing up, and I jokingly suggested that perhaps they were part of some weird cult, or were going off to gamble or do any number of things generally not allowed while on coffee break.
Naturally, we decided to pop in ourselves. We found ourselves in a grey world few people get to see, full of ductwork and strange panels on the walls, with locked doors of all sizes leading to even more mysterious places. The service tunnel circled around the whole outer perimeter of the food court, and there wasn’t a soul. Without consciously planning to, I began thinking about how a secretive organisation would operate there, how it would use the various rooms we saw, and what it would do to intruders.
It was a fascinating diversion, and now I have a plot idea that I might want to develop into a story. But I still wonder what those office workers were up to. Maybe that will become a story idea, as well…
Posted by geoffgander on February 1, 2011