I’ve been worked over by a story all summer. I feel like we’ve been beating each other up and down and neither of us is winning.
At this point, I hate this story. But, no, not true. I love it. I love the characters and want them to have a voice, a say in their life.
But, gosh darn it – speak!
Maybe I have not been giving the story it’s due, it’s time. The main character, Bella, came simply enough and her father did too. This is the primary relationship and the source of conflict in the story, but then there are a whole bunch of secrets. Aren’t there always?
I wrote the first draft and showed it to my writing partner who said the story had merit and I should keep at it. So, here I am, months later, keeping at it! Frustrated.
Writers understand this. Sometimes stories do this to us. The story wants/needs to be told, but it’s so hard in coming.
I need to do it. I need to force it. I need – I don’t know. Maybe it’s the story’s needs I should think about. It needs some time maybe, more thought; it needs to be brought to life for whatever reason it was given to me to write.
Sometimes, when I need some quick new ideas (my overstuffed file of ideas aside) I ask for a challenge. I ask people to give me two things, and they can be random. A pet bunny and a fear of heights. A bridge and a broken leg. They don’t even have to have anything to do with each other.
This is a challenge and a creative inspiration exercise – can I write short stories from these ideas?
Last time I asked for such a thing – I used all but one of the ideas and wrote five short stories in a month.
One of my writer friends said I can’t do that, I shouldn’t do that. She said that was false writing or forced writing.
Okay, but… Sometimes we need to force things out in order to get back into good habits, and, gosh, don’t tell me can’t. It just makes that two year old inside me want to do it even more.
I do understand what she’s saying – writing should be organic and natural to us. BUT – as I say, sometimes you gotta push it a little.
By the way – all those short stories were accepted and/or published within a few months.
So – anyway – I’m asking now. I need a little forcing. Give me two things. Random or not. Can be anything. Mayonnaise in a taco random or bunny on a beach cute.
Doesn’t spoil the whole bunch.
I usually receive rejections that are quite nice. “We really liked it, but…” or “Please submit again…”
I asked someone more experienced than I and was told that these are usually genuine and the editor, whether or not your work was accepted, liked the work.
I have been told that it didn’t quite fit their needs or that there was some disagreement between editors, which I again take as reasonably good rejects.
Once in awhile I get a rejection which makes me wonder what story they actually read.
I submitted to one journal who called for the topic of Deception, “Friends, Lovers, and Liars.” It’s a story about a woman who even deceives herself as she she comments on other’s deceptions. I thought it was spot on. The editor, however, did not and wrote, “I’m not sure why you submitted this. This doesn’t at all fit our call…” He wen ton to make me believe that I had triggered something.
The story is about a woman who has an affair. I have a feeling, the story struck a nerve. Ouch. Sorry. (The story has been published twice since then. – You can find it here.)
I recently received another long and involved rejection, although I don’t think because it acted as a trigger. But the rejection was nearly as long as the story. (haha – I’m exaggerating, of course.) But it stated things like “promises and doesn’t deliver,” “narrative too thin.”
Again, I wondered – had this editor read MY story? Or did he/she confuse it with another. This has happened once before.
I received a rejection – thanks, but no thanks, and then another the next day: “Thanks for submitting, we love it and would like to publish it!
If this happened face to face, I would nod and smile. I do something similar through email – “Great, thanks!”
Someone asked me if I respond to negative rejections with commentary. I don’t usually. I think I have once, but the editor was so nice about it. He gave me commentary, and then still asked me to submit again! Him, I thanked.
If these were feedback type of rejections, I might thank them. But I feel that they are not. It’s someone who is feeling his/her power and thinks they know everything.
I don’t respond to people like that. There is always to say no nicely. There is always away to give someone feedback – even negative – and be nice about it. Edit
ors should be experts on that.
By the way – that story with the “too thin narrative” was accepted to a number of journals within a week of sending it out. I’d barely gotten to sending out the withdraw notices when a number of others had sent acceptances – my apologies to those journals. I’ll do it the same day from now on!
That story, too, appears in my latest book of short stories – How to Throw a Psychic a Surprise Party.
One negative rejection should not upset a writer. They are to be expected. Do not let it take away all the nice rejections and don’t let it come near your brilliant acceptances!
There’s more than a few stories in this new book, How To Throw a Psychic a Surprise Party, about Healing.
In the last few years, I’ve learned about the many different modalities of healing, physical and metaphysical. I joined empathy groups and spoke to massage artists. It was a revealing and fulfilling education.
I included these in the stories. In The Healer’s Daughter, both mother and daughter engage in different modalities to help others, but theirs are more special.
Check out the story in How to Throw a Psychic a Surprise Party.
David Bowie appears in my new book, How to Throw a Psychic a Surprise Party. Sort of.
Bowie and the Basket Case is a short work of fiction. It’s completely legal to use the name of famous people in your literature. But there are limitations. Micheal Ondaajte has used historical figures, gave them secret lives.
The story must be clearly a work of fiction. And, if it is someone living, I’d be careful what I say about them. They have good lawyers.
The star of my story, however, is the basket case. But which one is the real basket case?
Joy is in the process.
Gratitude in purpose.