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Finding your place

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The publishing world is harsh.  It’s cold and full of rejection.

You write a story, get excited and send it off with hope in your heart. Pick me! Pick me!

And more often than not they don’t.

And then they don’t some more.

Recently I’ve had a good run, six acceptances in a cluster! I cheered: Hooray! They picked me! But once all the celebration sushi had been eaten I started wondering: where did all this acceptance come from?

I’ve been actively trying to get work published for over a year and a half now with some publications and contest wins here and there, but nothing like my recent successes. So what have I been doing differently?

The one major change I’ve made is finding my place. I write magic realism and because I often have speculative elements in my stories I was sure I would find success in the world of sci-fi/fantasy, but that just hasn’t been the case. So as I’ve stumbled along I’ve refined my searches, sought out literary magazines with a subtle (or obvious) surreal/magic realism slant and really aimed as opposed to shooting in the dark. I’ve learned from my rejections.

I spent a lot of time trying to slot myself into the speculative fiction world because I thought it was the most appropriate place for me, but I’ve learned that’s not the case and it’s a good thing to know, because now I can really focus and hopefully hit the mark more often.

When I was an actor years ago I got the best piece of advice about rejection I’ve ever heard: they aren’t (necessarily) rejecting you because you’re bad, they’re rejecting you because you’re not right for the part. Don’t take it personally.

I’ve tried to keep that same advice in mind as I go through the process of becoming a published writer. I need to find the places that are right for me and that takes work, but it’s worth while when you start hitting the right note with the right places, because it can lead to amazing connections and great publications!

The moral? Buck up and focus on getting your work into the right hands. Just because you get a rejection doesn’t mean your story is bad, it just means you haven’t found your place just yet.

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Getting Published!

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A few years back (okay maybe more like ten) I was published in a magazine.  I sent in my story with my SASE and I didn’t hold my breath.  I was young and intrepid and probably high with absolutely no aspirations of being an actual writer.  I had written a bunch of stories about my world travels and so I wanted to see one in print.  When they told me I would be published I didn’t rejoice, but I was happy.  I didn’t jump up and down or hug anyone because it was just a nice thing to have happen, but it wasn’t the be all and end all.

I didn’t know what I was onto then with my very first publication.

Fast-forward to today.  Years later I have finally given up all the false starts I have had career-wise and decided that I want to actually (for reals) be a writer.  Now I have spreadsheets full of magazines and files full of stories to send out in the hopes I will be chosen.  I have a book I am about to send to potential agents and (after about six months of submitting my short stories to magazines in earnest) I got the news on Thursday that I would be published for not one but two of my pieces.  One short story to an online publication and a poem to an anthology.
When I was told I was going to be published this time I did jump up and down.  I did hug my husband and run around a little with excitement.  This time (with queries going out for my first novel on Monday) getting published means something big.  It means someone read my arrangement of words on a page and decided they liked the cut of its jib.  It’s a pretty cool feeling.  It’s also cool to know that at some point soon some random strangers will also be reading my words and deciding if they like them.

I like the idea of publication for so many reasons, but the best is that people who might not otherwise get to read my words will be able to do so.  People who don’t know me will get a chance to peer into my brain and being as I love knowing what’s going on in other people’s brains (if I could read minds I would be pretty excited about it), I think that’s amazing.

When things are more official I will definitely announce when and where you can read my published works, in the meantime I will continue on my journey to get more words out there for the world to see!