Caving in the Sierras six or seven years ago.
We have to challenge ourselves to become better versions of our old selves.
To become better at anything, we must challenge ourselves.
To grow, learn, understand, and create new connections in our brains, we must get out of our comfort zones.
That is in writing and in life.
Our brain, our writing, our lives are built on what came before. If there’s nothing new to add, we can’t grow.
Growing makes us better people, better writers. Therefore, challenges make us become better people, better writers.
* saying things in different ways can help more people understand and relate.
I heard from a woman who asked me to share a story with young people. The story was my own, The Healer’s Daughter, from How to Throw a Psychic a Surprise Party.
She said the story was valuable and every young person who has ever bullied or been bullied needs to read it.
Bullying is a part of the story, and for the little girl in the story, it’s a very big part – as it was for any and all of us who were on the wrong side of the mean kids.
She felt, I believe, it would also help bullies to gain some sort of understanding. Maybe, maybe not. But I appreciated her feedback on what some people feel is a minor part of the story.
I appreciate the feedback and that my story touched her so much she feels the need to share it.
Our stories have power. And they have unintended consequences. I’m happy that mine leaned toward positive.
It doesn’t matter what you do, people are going to be adverse to you, your writing, your ideas.
Writers can not be people pleasers. Mostly because it is not in the human to be pleased or satisfied for long.
We need to seek and hunt and move forward.
However, I think many people strive on strife.
Nasty people feed off negative responses.
I ran into a woman recently who, for some reason, had a bug up her ass. I’m unclear what the woman’s problem was, specifically, and I didn’t attempt to find out.
There’s always a choice. And I choose not to engage with people like that. Most of their negativity and nastiness is more about them than it is about anyone they act out upon.
Let there be haters – Choose not to engage!
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!