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Finding your place

tetris-light

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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My greatest victory yet

I’ve been self employed for over five years now.

That means no bosses, no office grind, no stumbling into the cold dark mornings, bleary and sucking back caffeine in a hopeless effort to stay awake.

Ah yes, it’s a self employed life for me.

I’ve always been prone to the idea of self employment.  Maybe it’s because my Dad was a freelancer for most of my life and the idea of having my own home office was just normal.  Maybe it was all the alternative schooling, where I was encouraged to do my own personal and professional development and therefore started an event planning company in grade eleven which consisted of throwing raves for charity. Oh the black lights!  Oh the DJs!  Oh the using school as an excuse to party hard and have a good time!

It all sounds easy and lovely doesn’t it?

Well it’s not all black lights and pounding bass.

Self employment is a tough gig if you can hack it.  It’s a slow and steady race to build a core group of clients who believe in you and can trust that you will do the work and do it well.  It’s not just about being good at what you do (in my case writing and in Ben’s case video editing), it’s about doing a little bit of everything.  That includes doing the accounting (the hateful accounting), making cold calls (how terribly awkward), marketing yourself in every possible way and sometimes holding your breath and hoping that the famine will turn into feasting before you starve.  It can be stressful and tough and it’s certainly not for everyone.  But at the end of the day Ben and I get to spend our days together, we get to meet some pretty awesome people (some of whom we are lucky enough to call our clients) and people pay us to do what we love.

We sacrifice job security for freedom.

We give up benefits for self-governance.

We hang in there when times are tough and work hard when we can, all because we love what we do and we want to do it on our own terms.

I’ve been self employed for over five years now and I can definitely say it’s one of my best achievements so far.

What’s your greatest victory, your finest success?

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This is a post for www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge.  One blog post a day for all of June!  Check it out at the website or on twitter: @sofluid or #wpad!