goals / writing

Writing Wednesday: Rejection, Criticism and Discouragement

Goals, goals, goals…

12 new stories this year:  Still sitting at 10. “Schitzo the Magnificent” awaits a final revision, and then I will need one more story for the year (“Date Night” is still trying to make me write it.)

10-day turn-around on story submissions – some slips due to market availability, but generally being adhered to.

Indie publishing something every 4 weeks continues; “Stalking Rebecca” is on preorder now for its Friday release.

3 Blog postings last week as expected.

Have already read my six books (plus A Game of Thrones.)

And last and least promising: I wrote 0 words of fiction. That’s Z-E-R-O.

*****

In case it wasn’t obvious from this week’s Meandering Monday, I’m having doubts. What’s it all about? Why, after thirteen years at this writing gig, after six far more serious years of goal-driven performance, do I find myself discouraged? Three reasons converged this past week.

The first was my feeling inadequate to the task. As much as I enjoyed A Game of Thrones (I WILL be reading the other books now), it was also a painful reminder of a couple of my deficiencies as a writer. I may never be able to rise to the level of immersive description that Martin has achieved. It may not be essential for me to achieve that level in that particular facet of writing (there are plenty of successful writers who aren’t that good, either, and some of them are considered giants in their genres), but it is still intimidating.

Secondly was my ZERO words written. Last week was the first week in quite a while that I got nothing done. Well, not literally nothing – I managed to do a tiny bit of research for Swordsmaster, but I only spent a couple of hours at it. I could have done better – I know I could have. Life intruded some, but quite frankly, finding time to write has always been a struggle, and it isn’t helped by the total lack of support I get from outside myself. I have no one (family or friends or strangers) cheering me in my writing career; I am not whining or complaining -just stating facts. It’s been like this since the beginning, so nothing new here.

The third thing that piled on everything else and made me think about hanging up my pen were more rejections. One of the pitfalls of being a writer is that this business is filled with rejection. All the advice says keep submitting, no matter how many times it comes back to you (including Heinlein’s Rule #5: You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.) We are even encouraged to treat these as badges of accomplishment (most would-be writers don’t even TRY to submit their work, so getting rejections puts you in the upper echelons.)

Rejection, rejection, rejection; I’ve been doing yeoman’s work here with 479 rejections (and counting); Sometimes I’ve gotten close to a traditional short fiction sale – I know this because of my WOTF honorable mention on “Purr Mission”, or pre-rejection emails on a handful of other stories where a publisher informed me that I’d made it to the second phase in their selection process, as well as some rejection letters that actually sounded promising (I specifically remember a rejection of “A Dish Best Served” that stated “This isn’t our sort of thing; it’s amazing how close we came to buying it.”)

If you aren’t used to the process, most publishers are too When you submit stories, you usually just get a form rejection as they’re trying to clear their slush piles and are too busy to give specific feedback. So if your rejection goes beyond the usual pat response, to where the letter actually says something about your writing, that’s an accomplishment. (It’s good to be realistic about things, but you also have to take what victories you can.)

You should handle all criticism with due consideration – remember that it is just one person’s opinion, and that there’s a certain amount of subjectiveness in this business, so unless you see the same criticism repeated by others, you shouldn’t take it too much to heart, and this is why Heinlein’s Rule #3: You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order (of course, if you have only heard from one person about your story, it’s difficult to not give it more weight than might be its due.)

I received one particular rejection from a publisher last week for “Out of Place.” Understand that while I usually like all my stories, I was particularly pleased with this one (and so I had submitted it as a Writer’s of the Future contest entry earlier this year. I won’t name the publisher who sent the rejection, but it came with some very specific criticism. From the way it read, the feedback was from two different readers (I see that as positive – I would think only one person would read it unless the first one liked it. Of course, I could be wrong about that, but let’s be positive.) Each had specific criticisms. The first said the story had strong potential and was entertaining, but they felt I left some loose ends unaddressed (I’m not sure what loose ends they’re referring to – I didn’t have much to tie up), but this was an overall positive review. The second reader said my characters were realistic, and the dialog was good (hey – two positives!), but it didn’t fit their guidelines (which may be, except they cited that it wasn’t speculative fiction, which it definitely is), that it’s a little juvenile, no tension, no real plot, and I need to work on sentence structure.

Gee – it doesn’t look so bad now as it did when I first read it. Maybe it hit me harder because I interpreted the negative parts as reinforcement of my observations of my shortcomings (relative to George R.R. Martin.) I am only relating all this because I fell into THE PIT OF DESPAIR last week, and to be honest, some of my production failure was due to losing heart; I could have gotten more done despite the other obstacles, but I started wondering why I should bother. Where was all this rejection getting me? But after a couple of days of thinking about it (and some serious brooding), I came around to the simple fact that each rejection is a step on the path, while giving up will get me nowhere. You see, I will still want to write – still want to tell stories. And so I will push on (so he said, putting on a brave face.)

So should we all. Just saying…

<<<>>>

StalkingCoverThe release date for “Stalking Rebecca” is Friday, October 20th.

A reluctant date hears a tale from a no-longer-secret admirer explaining her fate. Maybe a love that lasts forever isn’t such a good thing.

“Stalking Rebecca” is a short, creepy, speculative fiction (and just in time for a Halloween read); it’s available now for preorders in many places, including:

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/upload/details/753474

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076FSDVNJ

<<<>>>

Collection9CoverWilliam Mangieri’s writing – including his most recent collection Just Some More, And Yet Still Even More Things I Could Get Out of My Mind – can be found in many places, including:
• Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/NoTimeToThink
• His Amazon Author page:  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008O8CBDY
• Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/william-mangieri?store=book&keyword=william+mangieri
• Createspace (if you prefer physical books):  https://www.createspace.com/pub/simplesitesearch.search.do?sitesearch_query=william+mangieri&sitesearch_type=STORE
To CONNECT WITH HIM (and LIKE and FOLLOW), go to
• His site on WordPress:  https://williammangieri.wordpress.com
• “William Mangieri’s Writing Page” on Facebook at:  http://www.facebook.com/NoTimeToThink
• His Goodreads author page:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6893616.William_Mangieri
• Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri

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