I’m ashamed, truly. I don’t usually brag, but someone asked… they asked!
I once woke up with a line to a story. It was four in the a.m. and I woke up with “the day she ran over her neighbor’s dog…”
(Pet lovers – no dogs were injured in the writing of this story.)
I wrote it down, but then the story started pouring out, so I got out of bed and wrote for three hours until I had to go to work, then finished it when I returned home. Of course, that was the first draft of “Of Strays and Exes.”
A few more drafts and it was published just a few months later. Sometimes that happens.
They wowed – so I wanted to share that not all stories go that way. Another story, took YEARS. I want to say maybe six or even eight years to get right. It went through many drafts and grew.
I’m pretty damn proud of that story. Yeah, I said, it was pretty damn good.
Maybe I lost them, I don’t know. I laughed, they laughed.
See – sometimes things spill out and they are a gift from the muses; other times, things are hard and you have to work and work to get them right, and when you’re finished and it’s accepted and loved, you feel your hard work has paid off, it’s successful.
I return to my usual humble self.
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.
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!
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?