Friday, May 29, 2009

Positive Rejection?

Well, Derek Daniels came back with superficially sad news. Writers of the Future didn't want him. Poor fellow; but we'll send him back out again soon with hopes for better luck.

However, there's a silvery lining! When Nixie came back, all we got was the rejection. If I am not mistaken, it was even through email. This time, however, we got the lovely bookmark pictured here to the left and below. One side is printed vertically, the other horizontally.

So, freebies are always a nice consolation for failure rejections. However, even nicer is a message of hope! First, the letter was a form letter, even starting out "Dear Contestant," but in ink, the "Contestant" is marked out and my first name written in! I got individual attention! Then, below, is written the message "Submit Again Soon!" and a signature. This strikes me as a message of hope, something that says I almost made it. Then again, maybe it's a trick to make me feel good so I'll keep submitting to them. I choose to believe the former, but either way, it means they still want me to submit again! Guess I should get writing!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Writing as a God

I started writing novels before I was in high school. The problem with that sentence is, I started, but never finished them. Until now. In April of 2008 I finally finished writing a novel. Now that I’m counting the years, I realize that I spent over half my life, nearly two-thirds, failing to complete novel projects. I spent plenty of time writing. I would reread and rewrite those first few chapters countless times, and then do the same with the next idea that came to mind. They may have gotten better, but they never got finished. What changed is that I realized a couple of things about myself and then acquired a couple of tools to apply to my work. And now I would like to share them with those who might benefit from it.

I recognized that I am an explorer. I want to go see the sights never before seen and discover what lies over that next hill. This is great for keeping an open mind, which I value. However, whatever lies beyond that next hill… hasn’t been written yet. That’s my job. I can’t discover what’s out there, I have to decide what’s out there. When I eagerly wait to see what the character is going to do in the next scene, the story stalls and he never makes it there. If I can’t wait to find out “whodunnit,” then no one did.

In effect, I have realized that in order to succeed, Writers Must Be Gods. We have created a world. We have populated it with animals (or machines). And we have formed people, characters, from the dust of our minds. And if you’re doing NaNoWriMo, you’d better do it in less than 7 days! This sequence of events sound familiar to anyone? We are the one and only god of our creation and it is up to us to write the future. We must decide the End days, and what the signs are that lead up to it.

Every one of my characters gets to the end of the scene, turns around and says “Hey, big guy, what now?” It’s my job to decide on a course of action and give him an answer. I’m not saying I have to have every detail ironed out in advance. (Even if I did, it would probably change along the way.) I am saying that if you don’t know where your story is going, it’ll never get there. It might be a mystery to you at first how Elena, the beautiful seamstress, ends up in love with Timmy the Robot, but you know they’re fated to be together. You may not know how you’re going to kill Jefferson MacGregor, but you know he’s gotta die.

So, realize this. Recognize and revel in the inherent power of being a god. Characters are born, live, die, cry, and celebrate at your whim. The entire world is your playground, and you can do anything you want within it. When you are writing, you have to be a Creator first, and then you can discover the details.

The Once and Future Author

Well, in the fading lamplight of hope for On Common Ground being published with Mundania Press, I remind myself that I have at least been published, once. Then it occurred to me that I started this blog after that publication, so I decided to share it retroactively.

I was honored to be chosen as a guest blogger on about a year ago. I submitted an article called "Writing as a God" and got some nice comments and attention. (Some of them were even from people I'm not related to! Can you believe it?!)

Anyways, since it has been a year, I hope John won't mind me reposting that article here on my own blog. It'll go up in a few minutes.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

"Great News!" said my wife.

She said "It's good news; we are now free to submit On Common Ground to new agents/publishers, because Mundania Press turned it down! OK, granted, it wasn't quite the great news we were hoping to hear from them." And she has a point. Two of them.

Each rejection of a work can/should be viewed as a new opportunity to find it a home with someone who really appreciates it. If an editor or publisher offers a contract, but doesn't really believe in the work, they aren't going to be giving it their best shot while simultaneously tying up its possibilities elsewhere. So, it should soon be venturing out again on missives with the mission of finding its rightful place in the publishing world.

Yes, naturally, I'm a little a disappointed, but I am trying to look at the bright sides: Mundania doesn't pay advances, and many other publishers do. Perhaps, in addition to landing a publishing contract, On Common Ground will also bring home a nice pretty advance check. (Always welcome.) Also, though I don't have any actual issue with the printing format, I'm not quite as fond of the larger-sized paperbacks so now perhaps it'll be in the more common trade paperback style.

However, when you boil it all down, it got rejected and that never feels quite as nice as a chocolate-covered banana split with sprinkles. In the words of one of my 8th grade students, "Well, they're just stupid-heads and they should have bought it!" [Specific terminology changed to protect the less-than-innocent.]