4.24.2007

and i trust her with my heart

Here's a modest proposal from the thinking throngs of writers submitting to all y'all editors of zines, journals and the like:

If you needs must keep our work for more than, say, 15 days, then you needs must return it with a personal comment. Am I right? (Nothing like having your hard written stuff out in the breeze for 30, 40, 50 days, only to get it back with rubber stamp response.)

And if you're keeping it for that long, you might take the time to formulate a response that would be helpful (or not) to the writer, that might (hope against hope) improve their work and thus the submissions to your publication.

It's demoralising for the writer to get nothing in the way of feedback, and for the editor to get nothing in the way of quality material, so if we both do our jobs completely (writers, research the places you're submitting to for appropriateness--DO read some of their stories, or poems, whatever fits, and evaluate them vis a vis your own work, DO submit professional level work), (editors, see above) we might see some true progress in this relationship.

We need each other, yes we do. So spell it with me: R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Socking it to me is optional.

the girl's alright with me, you know the girl's alright

Up and Down Date:

Been hacking away at a story and continuing at a trickle on the novel, but won't (there's just no way) make the deadline for a first draft by the time we jet out for three weeks on 5/15. 'Salright. The last year has seen more continuous progress in my writing work than in many years previous, so I'm good with it.

The story is a trip: started as a nothing much happens but has a great strong character voice story (my speciality), then morphed into a dark revenge tale where something really DOES happen (gasp). This is good. The trippy part is that in the first version, she had one reaction to seeing another character, and in the last version, her motivation is different so her reaction is different, and I've had a hecka hard time taking out the first parts. Not because I'm so enamored of 'em, either. It's like I can't see them, because I've read the silly thing too many times. I'm both sick of it and blind to it.

So, put it away for a while, you say. Work on something else. We'll, I don't want to! I'm excited about bringing the story to this new place. I'm excited about finishing it, having it be a whole thing, not just Frankenstory of the Many Versions, about sending it out, feeling hopeful. I'm excited about someone reading it and liking it, and feeling the same way about it myself.

Despite missing the self made deadline, I will be taking the novel with me on our trip. We're not taking any screens, so I'll print out the whole document, grab a couple of pencils and be off. I'll be seeing you, and vice versa, before then though.

4.15.2007

i'm a loser

According to the fine website Duotrope, I am now the proud recipient of SIX rejections in as many months. That's not right, though. There are rejections they don't know about, rejections I've been hiding from the glaring eye of Duotrope. They're mine, mine! I don't have to tell anyone about them.

Hmmph.

There are rejections, and rejections, though. My New Yorker and Harpers rejections are fond mementos, gentle breezes from the publishing heavens that ruffle the fine feathers of my tail, though not offering to open gates of said heaven.

Then there are the form door-slammers. Slam! Many of them don't have that much energy. Slam. They don't hardly make a breeze, or if they do, it's more like a...wind.

I must say, though, that I like having work out there so I'm willing to risk rejection. I even expect it, especially when so much of the work (though by no means all of it) that I read in print (can't, sadly, say the same for online journals) is superior to my own. That's right--superior.

But readers of this space know I'm not set back by the above naked truth. I'm not giving up. I continue to learn and improve, through practice and study of the work of others, and with the help of my fine writing group and yes, those rejections, too.

And reading the good stuff (Tin House Magazine's fiction, most recently) and the not so g.s. (my recent rejections) reminds me of how much I love this work, this endeavor, this funny little thing I want to do.

It's too late for figure skating, too late to start on the road to being the second female puzzle editor of the New York Times. So, onward this loser goes.

4.09.2007

one terrific radiant humble

(thingama, jingama pig!)

When you look for great writing you see it everywhere. In books, in films, on TV, but mostly we notice when it's NOT there, when we can't stand to read further, to watch more.

Lately, I've been amazed at the inventive and sharp writing from my kids' bookshelf: the original Winnie the Pooh, Charlotte's Web the book and the film ("fine swine, wish he were mine, so what if he's not so big?"), a wonderful book called "May I Bring a Friend?" by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers, the unparalelled Seuss, "The Story of Ferdinand" by Munro Leaf, "Make Way for Ducklings" and other books by Robert McCloskey.

Such a pleasure to share these with the littlies, and to experience an added level of writer's appreciation while doing so. Other nominees are welcome.

Another layer of spooky: In his post of late, anxious m-f (http://anxiousmofo.wordpress.com/) says he's reading the books of the main inspiration for my cousin's novel, mentioned in the spooky post of last.

4.04.2007

novelution: spooky

Ewkaay, how's this for coincidence: at a family gathering on Sunday, a cousin tells me that he is essentially living the situation that is the crux of my novel. That's one.

Then he tells me he can offer "inside information" about the REAL LIFE people who are going through this situation. I can't think what to say to this.

That's two.

Then he tells me he's written a novel.

That's three.

No, it's not on the situation we were discussing.

That's when I start to breathe again.

So, my head is spinning a little at this point. We talk about my novel, which I can tell he thinks is not the most original idea ever, but admits he's never seen anything quite like the idea out there. We talk about his novel. I'm impressed, very, and depressed, slightly, at being in the presence of someone who can talk about it in the past tense. I wrote. Not, I'm writing.

He kept it a secret, mostly, which while I'm talking to him starts to sound like a good idea. No exposure, no risk of public failure for lack of follow through. No risk of never getting to the place he's at: the "I wrote" place.

Finally, I grab a chair and stop spinning.

On one, I'm glad to know that there is relevance in the real world for my narrator and her situation.

On two, I have to say no to this. I'm not looking to be a reporter, and fiction is about creating larger truths from smaller lies, so smaller truths won't help me. The character is driving this bus, and she's not taking any passengers but me.

On three, I'm inspired by his hard work and courage (I think it really takes this to write, for anyone) but I suddenly feel like demanding to see his Longtime Suffering Writers Association membership card.

Funny, on the surface it seemed he had much of what I'm looking for: the nitty g. on the very situation my character faces, and on another level, the divine past tense of "writing". In fact, no one has what I'm looking for but me. I wouldn't have chosen my chosen subject if I didn't think I could make it real, and that past tense of "writing" will only be real for me when I make the present tense of fanny-in-chair a constant.

Talking of which, if I were being paid to write my novel, I'd be fired by now. The last weeks have been uberstressful and chockful of truly paid work, so my poor darling is sulking in the corner. Come Saturday, though, I'm grabbing her wrist and dragging her out. Can't wait.