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Month: September 2010

A whole new level of rejection

Today was a roller coaster day in the world of my writing. I had a poem get picked up W5RAn, and got some good positive feedback. It’s always a good feeling when I write something, think it’s okay, then come back to it and think, “Man, that’s really good!” Dramatic distance really is a very difficult thing to achieve.

Then later in the day I heard back about a volunteer job I applied for. It was a slush reader position at a new online magazine for young adult science fiction/fantasy. I didn’t get the job.

I heard it about by chance, on Twitter, after I wrote a post about the latest piece I’ve been working on, which is kind of a magical realism, mock-sci-fi piece. I decided to follow the #sff tag I included and happened upon a tweet about the position. I followed the link and read up on what they were looking for.

  • Someone willing to volunteer
  • Someone willing to read 6-8 stories a week
  • Someone who could write concise reports about the stories

That was pretty much it. I was immediately interested, because it would be a great resume builder, and it’s always satisfying to support new literary ventures. I grabbed my Moleskine and thought of all the ways I would be perfect for the job. I love to read, I am very familiar with the submission process, I am willing to volunteer, I write concise reports for a living, I’ve judged lots and lots of writing contests, etc. I even threw in some zingers – said I’d be willing to represent the magazine at SXSW 11, talked about my bachelor’s degree in fiction writing, discussed my copy editing experience in college, blah blah blah.  Maybe I’m just an optimist, but I seriously thought I would be a shoe-in. The editor also followed me on Twitter the day after I applied, so I thought I had it in the bag. I was really looking forward to it –  a great resume builder and a good way to give back. Yeah, I’d probably have to read a lot of crap, but then I’d probably also get a taste for how people feel when they read my submissions and could improve accordingly.

So I was really disappointed when I got the all-too-familiar “not what we’re looking for at this time” email. Not even a “we were seriously interested in you” email. Just a standard old “dear author”.  I mean, I did see that they had a higher level of interest than they expected, but I didn’t anticipate that a world of skilled people just willing to give up some time would be applying.  It kind of makes me wonder what level of people were vying for this unpaid position. I’ve been pretty well desensitized to submission rejections, but this one hit me like a whack to the head. Okay, so sci-fi/fantasy isn’t my favorite genre ever, which I was up front about, but I enjoy writing of all kinds, even SFF. I figure they must have just had some really really impressive people apply, or this is a blatant case of Kellyism.

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Screw you, spell check! Oh wait, that IS how you spell Wednesday…

Tonight I was plugging away at some submissions/future rejections, and I noticed something both disturbing and embarrassing.  It has been over 3 months since I moved, and I got tired of manually typing my new address, and I figured it was probably time to give the query letter templates the once over anyway.

The query letter for The Redheaded Stepchild misspelled protagonist. The query letter for Two Steps Forward misspelled Forward. Twice. And it’s in the title. It also referenced The Other Dentenia Zickafoose when it should not have. It’s no wonder these magazines have dismissed without a second thought. That, and “I’m not what they’re looking for.”

There are few things I hate worse than writing query letters. I’m sure many of my fellow writers feel the same pain. We’re writers; we want our work to speak for itself. I have part of marketing degree, and I still hate marketing myself. So I spend some time trying to say what I want to say, and save it to a template so I don’t have to think about it every time. Apparently, I’ve been too lazy with this as of late, and as much as I hate, I know that a good query letter is important and a necessarily evil on the route to being a novelist. I encourage all you writers out there to spend 15 minutes to take a look at your query letters, just to make sure they are in tip-top shape. And that the title of your piece is not misspelled.

I am equally annoyed when I see outdated or incorrect information on a publisher’s website, or worse, a 404 or a bounced email.  Since most literary journals are run by colleges, I know they don’t accept submissions during the summer.  News flash – it’s back to school time, so you’re probably accepting submissions again. And if your submission banner reads “We are currently not accepting submissions. We will begin accepting submissions in July 2010” and it is now September 2010, there is something wrong with that.  If you say your next edition is coming April 2010, it should be posted by April 30, not still hanging around as a “coming soon” in November. You want me to not be lazy, do my due diligence, see what kind of work you typically publish and then craft my query letters accordingly? Do yours. Update your goddamn website.

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Weekly writing challenge 9-7

I’ve been struggling with killing a lot of my less-than-stellar ideas for the last few weekly writing challenges. Sometimes, no matter how many ways you try to look at and change a piece of crap, it’s still a piece of crap.

But this week, it was all inspiration and just an eesny bit of motivation and perspiration. I write best when it comes like that. Not to say that this new flash fiction piece is my best work ever, but I give it the stamp of approval instead of the wadded ball in the trash.

This was inspired by an album released early last week by artist who is part of my favorite band, and a word I have hated ever since an unfortunate incident in college. Enjoy 🙂

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