Monthly Archives: May 2013

Just a Little Bit

Annoyed.

Yes, I admit it. For the most part, I’m genuinely cool with waiting to hear back on subs for my manuscript. But three months ago, I submitted a flash fiction story to a particular online magazine. I like the vast majority of the stories that they publish, so I thought I’d try one of mine.

It’s quick, fun story that’s meant to be TOTALLY tongue-in-cheek. And, trust me, it’s very obvious.

I heard back the other day, and it was rejected.

That’s fine–been rejected before, and I get it. This really is a subjective business. No harm, no foul, and all that.

But what annoyed me was that the critique of the story by a few of the editors was as if it was NOT tongue-in-cheek. They took it totally seriously.

I honestly would have thought it would be a good fit. They do a lot of serious stories, but occasionally a lighthearted one, too. And some of the stories they do publish aren’t awesome. (Hence, I thought I had a chance!) 😉

Anyway, I’ll try submitting it a few more places. If it doesn’t go anywhere, I’ll post it to the blog.

In the meantime, I prefer my grapes sweet, not sour. I’ve gotta to work on that.

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One Is The Loneliest Number

Writing is so solitary. That’s part of what I like about it. Although I consider myself friendly and outgoing, I also adore alone time. I crave it. I cling to it like a remora on a shark.* And after the wonderfully fantastic shmoozefest known as NESCBWI last weekend (see last blog post), I needed to be . . . alone.**

The risk is when you spend too much time in your writing world. You can become isolated working in a vacuum, and words can lose their meaning. Writers need other writers. Yes, even you, little Ms. Shy Writer over there. We need to commiserate, bounce ideas off of each other, and analyze each others’ work.

It seems like writers don’t always realize that by critiquing someone else’s writing, they can get better at it themselves. First of all, by exchanging critique, a good critique partner or critique group will help point out flaws in your story. Second of all, closely examining someone else’s writing will ultimately help you be more objectively critical of your own.

Not to mention, a good critique partner/group provides all of that support we sorely need. Even the most supportive friends or partners don’t exactly understand the trials and tribulations of writing, revising, querying, and critiquing.

Be diligent when seeking critique partners. I found my two lovely CPs through Ladies Who Critique, which is a fabulous resource. The three of us jumped into it blindly, which lots of blogs tell you not to do. They say to look at samples of each others’ writing, evaluate your shared goals in critiquing, blah blah blah. Yes, all that’s significant. But what I found most important is that we shared a level of enthusiasm for writing and were similarly (in)experienced in the field. So no one of us is carrying the others along.

During the NESCBWI conference, I talked to a lot of people about my CPs and the fact that we do all of our critique online. A few were incredulous that it could work, but I argued that sometimes it’s easier to write critique in an email than to say it to someone’s face.

“But I can take honest critique–it’s not a problem!” I heard several times. I explained that for me, at least, it’s not a question of whether or not I can take it–I sure as heck can–but whether or not I could give good (honest, though never brutal!) critique to someone’s face.

I’m not maligning in-person critique groups, either. In fact, I might look for one just to get an additional experience beyond my current fabulous critique group. There’s value to both. We shouldn’t always write alone.

The idea is to partner with other like-minded people and work towards a common goal of improving everyone’s writing. You’ll be glad you did.

*Look it up! It’s cool.

**I feel like Greta Garbo.

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Get Thee to A Conference

Let’s go back in time to a year ago. I was just about to attend my first writer’s conference (The Muse and the Marketplace–totally rad) and hadn’t yet finished revising my Very First Manuscript. I was starry-eyed, intimidated, and completely clueless. I’d been writing in my little bubble, with the encouragement of my amazing friends/beta readers, but knew no other writers.

Ignoring for a moment all of the other awesome things that happened that day (Meeting Lois Lowry! A fellow (very young) writer telling me out of the blue that I looked to be in my twenties (ha ha)! Hanging around with other YA fantasy writers (one of whom coincidentally graduated from my alma mater)) . . . the very first session I attended taught us all that we Must. Join. Twitter.

I rolled my eyes–I tend to be a wee bit anti-technology at times–but figured hey, these folks knew what they were talking about. So, quietly, and a bit skeptically, I joined. Slowly, I started following people who seemed interesting, and even more slowly, people started following little big ol’ me.

Let me say that *just* doing that made every penny of the conference fees worth it. I have learned so very much on Twitter, by following other writers, agents, publishers, readers, you name it. Not to mention the support that we get from others in this field. So nice!

When I look back at me a year ago, I was such a novice. And I’ve gained so much knowledge that I think I can call myself an intermediate. 

In about 36 hours I’m heading out to Springfield, Mass. to the New England SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators)* Conference, and I’m excited to find out what new information I’ll be learning and contacts I’ll be making this year. This time I won’t be a newbie, nervous about talking to the “real” writers.

And this year, I know I have nothing to lose by reaching out and building even more of my own community. Because writing on your own is just not as much fun.

*That is a wicked long name, BTW. Even saying the initials is a mouthful, and I’ve been told that saying “skibwee” (which I want to do) is a faux pas! 😛

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