Failing

A big part of being a writer is rejection. You have to have a thick skin to take rejection for your entire career.  I haven’t experienced the lousy ratings part of rejection from book reviewers as I haven’t had anything published outside of two self-published books (no longer available). I didn’t have any negative ratings on them, which was nice, but also only had a handful on each. 

The rejection I want to write about is having manuscripts rejected...again, and again, and again... 

I have these stories that I’ve worked on for years- literally for two of them- three years for one, five years for the other. I have them at a point where readers and critique partners have said, “They’re ready.” Two words I’ve wanted to hear for years, and in a span of two months, I heard it twice for two different manuscripts. 

The next step is sending it out to the world- agents and publishing companies that accept unsolicited submission. That’s what I’ve been doing since August. 

I’ve sent then out to twenty-three agents and small presses over that time.  Some are still within the time frame of auto rejection based on time passed. But, thirteen were a ‘no’ because of outright rejection, or because of hearing nothing but crickets, even after a friendly poke.

I’ve been doing okay with them. One made me laugh because I got rejected within hours, and another within four days, including Christmas.

But a recent one got me more that the others. 

It wasn’t an agent, and it wasn’t a publisher. This one was for a contest that would have helped improve a third manuscript that is ‘close’ to being ready to send off to the world. There were sixteen mentors, and 500 people submitted to them. I thought my chances were good, I thought I would be one of the winners this time.

But I wasn’t. 

It hit me harder than I thought. And I feel like I’m failing.  Are my stories not good enough? Am I getting too old to start? 

That’s where I’m at.  

I’m happy as hell for those who won, and I can’t wait to hear about their journeys. But I’m jealous, too. 

Am I a failure? No. Just rejected.  Rejection is temporary.  And rejection is a stepping stone to lift yourself higher, to boost you to work harder, and pushes you to get yourself out there even more.  Find more critique partners, send to more agents and publishers, write more. 

Failure is only permanent when you give up. That, I will not do. 

The Write Spot

                 Bandit as he chirps at me

                 Bandit as he chirps at me

I’m sitting in a red, high backed chair, trying to write in my Brain Toilet, as my cat claws at the wall, puts his paws on the chair, meows, lays on his back, and cries.  All directed at me.  Why?

I’M IN HIS SPOT!

Now, this chair was NOT purchased ($20 on FB Marketplace!) for him.  It was purchased for me, for a quiet place to sit and read or write while my wife works on her Doctorate (she’s not in yet, but any program that would reject her is idiotic). 

That got me thinking...

Do you have ‘your’ writing spot?

So, that’s MY chair on the right, and Jane’s on the left... 

So, that’s MY chair on the right, and Jane’s on the left... 

Do you need a spot?

I used to think I did.  I have a desk set up perfectly- old lap top, typewriter, writing utensils, journals, sticky notes-anything you can think of!

But, what do I do? I sit in a recliner and write, I head to coffee shops, sometimes I’ll write in bed, or even in my classroom - if an idea pops up I’ll jot down some quick notes. Now, I have this red chair (aka Bandit’s Chair). Pretty much ANYWHERE other than my desk...in the basement...with the XBox, and the pool table (aka teen dungeon).  So, it’s not always quiet, and it’s somewhat dank (teen fumes).  It’s really not an inspiring place. It is a nice place to have as a home base for all my writing stuff, and a lot of books...okay, and lego figures. I love lego figures. Oh, my old Milenium Falcon, with a few old Star Wars figures, too! And a partially finished dragon puzzle. Yeah, not an ideal place to plop down and write, but a great place to keep things organized (even though it may not sound like it).

My writing spot is wherever I am. Especially with my iPad- that’s my main writing utensil. I used to be a journal hog, and I still do love using journals, but not as much as I used to.  I can write as fast, and even neater, by typing.  Especially with autocorrect.

Do you have a spot?

Let us know in the comments!

Waiting Sucks

Waiting sucks.

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No like waiting for a roller coaster ride, or waiting for the dentist- those are fun!

I’m talking about waiting to hear back from a curated list of prospective agents you’ve submitted your manuscript to; a manuscript you’ve worked on for years.

You’ve taken care of this baby, raised it, groomed it, edited the crap out of it, until, finally, it’s ready to hit the inboxes of agents you think it’s right for. 

You wait. 

And you wait. 

And you wait. 

(sometimes, after a couple years, even after you aren’t waiting for a response anymore, you get one).

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Oh My God.  It’s been 5 minutes!  Why haven’t they realized my genius! This is the perfect story for ANYONE!

Okay, maybe not five minutes, but five weeks. ANd the wait time can be up to a few months. So, what do you do? 

Well, there’s always things like Tara Lazar’s StoryStorm to keep you busy in January, writing another story, reading, drinking coffee. But, there’s only so much your brain can take. You still want that answer!

So, here’s a list of my...

TOP TEN THINGS TO DO WHEN WAITING FOR A RESPOSNE

10. That to do home improvement list? Time to get a couple things done! 

9. Sleep- not a nap, I’m talking give me that poison apple, knock me out for a few months sleep. 

I’ve got so many more if this fuzz, and big fluff, too. 

I’ve got so many more if this fuzz, and big fluff, too. 

8. Take thousands of pictures of your cats, and post THEM ALL on-line, cuz, you know, EVERYONE needs to see you awesome your cats are.

7. Make a bunch of nonsensical Top Ten Lists for people to read.

6. Paint every room in your house!

5. Train for a marathon.

4. Those new things you always wanted to learn to do? Well, time to pick up a few of them for a couple weeks, and then promptly stop doing them.

3. Refinish your floors.

2. Check your e-mail every fifteen minutes.

And, the Number One Thing To Do When Waiting For A Response...

1. ...Binge watch Netflix!

From Idea to Story

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You got this story idea.  You’ve written it down, now what? 

Write it! 

That’s the basic idea of Tara Lazar’s StoryStorm

During the month of January, you write down 30 picture book ideas in 31 days. 

Now, you’ve got this great stack of ideas for picture books. So, what’s next? 

Go through those ideas, and put them into four categories (at least, that’s what works for me). Category 1 means it’s a great idea, category 2 is an okay idea, but needs some help, category 3 is not that great but not trash worthy, and category 4 is not that good- don’t trash it, you never know when that 4 might turn into a 3, or even be sued to help a 2 become a 1.  

Now you’re gettin’ somewhere! 

Go through those 1’s, pick one, and then write it. After all, these are the ideas that are ready to be written! Put those words to keyboard, or paper, and don’t stop until it’s done.  That’s it!  Really.  Of course, there’s tons of editing, but that’s for future posts. 

As of now, I have eleven ideas from StoryStorm, and have turned two into manuscripts as they really want to end up in Scrivener.  One sucks.  I mean, it’s horrific.  This thing’s going to the trunk (that’s another post, too!). The other? Well, it’s a second manuscript for a manuscript that I’ve been shopping around a bit that I consider “ready”.  It was okay.  Much editing will come.

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  Editing makes me do this                                        Copyright TeeTurtle.  Their tees rock! 

Running and Writing

Running and writing have so many things in common.

1. They both hurt.

2. They both really suck at the beginning, but get better the more you do it.

3. They’re both fulfilling.

4. I love them both.

5. They both help me drink more coffee. I’m not sure how that works with running, but any excuse to drink more coffee is a good one.

6. They’re both (for the most part) calming.

7. I hate them both (at times- coffee helps me love them).

                        Proof I ran today :) 

                        Proof I ran today :) 

I was hoping to get to 10, but 7’s good, too.

I used to run a lot, before writing.  Not being able to run (hip/ knee surgeries, and lack of knee being able to recover) led to more writing. How? I’ll explain.

I had hip and knee surgery, couldn’t run, so I started writing.

The end.

I had wheels, but then one fell off.  That’s me on the right, with the runners 15 years younger than me.

I had wheels, but then one fell off.  That’s me on the right, with the runners 15 years younger than me.

That was six years ago or so.  My hip has been great, but my knee did not recover so well.  I tried on and off for a couple years, but the constant recurring pain became frustrating, and I gave up on it for a few years, until last Spring when I ran a few times (about a quarter to a half mile) after HIIT class.  I had no pain, but I didn’t continue like I should have.  Fast forward 8 months, to the past couple weeks, and I’ve run four times, for about a mile to a mile and a half and have had NO pain at all!

In fact, I am sitting here, with a coffee in my Tinker Bell mug, of course, writing after a run. It was cold, rainy, and I loved every single step of it.  And so did my knee.

Besides writing, what else do you do?