September 19

Clearing the cobwebs

So, a funny thing happened while I was clearing out the cobwebs in my last post. I was in a low place as far as writing was concerned, full of self doubts. To be honest, I still am, and yet somehow I’m feeling a little more upbeat about it all. Part of that, I think, is because I have begun to go back to basics.

When some people refer to going back to the basics, they invoke images of pens and paper pads. Alas, not so much here, at least not for the bulk of my writing (I do that occasionally, but not often.).

First, some context. We’re doing the homeschool thing again with the kids, which means a lot of home projects and time spent online. The program we began with initially required each of the kids to be able to get online for video conferences multiple times a day. That meant a lot of bandwidth in use, but even worse, that there were times when each of the girls needed a computer of her own.

And so, my aging iMac went to the youngest. The decision wasn’t an easy one, but there were other contributing factors. While still a good computer, it needs more RAM to continue to be usable for my work when I’m home. Not for writing, but for the actual day to day work from home stuff. Because of the model, it has to be sent out to get more memory added, which means it’s going to cost hundreds just for the maintenance. Money that could better be spent towards a new computer for me.

That’s when I realized I didn’t want a Mac for my next computer. It’s been a great run, but I’m ready to go back to using something I’m more comfortable with, namely Linux. I’ve picked out the model and brand, but that started raising other questions.

The software I’ve used for the last few years to write is Scrivener. It’s an amazing, flexible application, that someday will have an iPad version. But as I find myself moving away from Apple and their products, that tie just isn’t enough.

A month or so ago, I tried out Ulysses, another writing app for Macs. This one is based on the simplicity of using (muti)markdown for formatting. I’ve extolled the virtues of (muti)markdown before, but althought I wasn’t enamored with Ulysses itself, I was intrigued by the idea of writing in markdown.

You see, using markdown gives me freedom. I can use any editor, on any platform. Until it comes time to render it, all my editor has to support is plain text. For someone looking for cross platform writing tools, that’s like a magic formula.

I might post some links to some helpful resources (or, egads, become one myself), but I’m still feeling the waters on this. I have a novel project (or two) I’m working on right now that are doing well. Simpler writing tools means less distraction, more focussing on just getting the words out of my head. Well see how well that translates in the final product. I will say that I’ve written every day for 75 days now (a modest number), but it’s only been in the last week that I’ve seen my word counts start to jump again. Some of that may be the length I’m writing to – I find that short stories are harder to get write and take longer than an equal number of words in a novel length project. But we’ll see.

September 6

Closing for Repairs

Well, this week has been another series of rejections. I’m trying not to let them get me down – one for a novel, two for short stories – but one of those stung a bit more than the rest. Without going into the details, there was a hard limit of 100 submissions allowed, and they were choosing the top ten to move on.

I didn’t make that first cut.

I don’t doubt the legitimacy of that decision, or the quality of the other stories involved, but it does give me pause to wonder if the stories I write are of any merit. To say it was a blow to my ego is an understatement.

And yet, I’m still writing every day. Not a lot, to be sure, no more than 3-500 words a day, but every day for the last 62 days (as of September 6, 2015) has seen something written. Which is to say, I’m not giving up.

What I am doing is taking a break from being so vocal. You all have been wonderful, and these hiatus of mine are always shorter lived than I think they will be, but I’m taking a break. I’ve uninstalled Twitter and Facebook on my phone, and I’m no longer checking them during the day. Not that they were a distraction, but my blathering about on them isn’t productive either.

To reiterate, though:

  • I am still writing
  • I am still sending it out for consideration

I’m just taking a break from relaying the bad news on the blog.

August 16

Still here, being rejected

I admit, I’m not doing a good job of keeping up with the blog these days. Largely, it’s a lack of things worthy of pulling up an editor and blogging about.

I almost had a break through recently with my writing. Almost, because after being held for consideration, the story was ultimately rejected. It was a fine rejection, and knowing I made it past the first cut was reassuring – but in the end, it was still a rejection.

What’s a person to do?

Keep going, of course. I don’t send stories out because I want to be famous or think I can make it rich. I send them out because I want to do something productive with the stories that keep tumbling out of my head, and because I think other people might enjoy them. I’m sending to (mostly) professional markets because if I can, I’d like to be compensated at a professional rate for the time I spent.

But the rejections still sting, I won’t lie.

First issue of Amazing Stories, art by Frank R...
First issue of Amazing Stories, art by Frank R. Paul. This copy was autographed by Hugo Gernsback in 1965. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The best I can do is to keep submitting. In addition to magazines, I’ve also been submitting to a few contests. I have a story in for Michael Sullivan’s Death at Dulgath contest (reward: winner is published at the end of the book), one into Amazing Stories for the Gernsback Contest (reward: ability to apply for SFWA membership even if it’s your first sale), and the Orbit contest (reward: feedback from Orbit editor and Karen Miller on your fantasy novel sample). And that’s on top of the dozen or stories that are floating around waiting for replies.

I’ve talked about trying to get published for years, but I think this is the first year that I’ve made a real effort, both at perfecting the stories before sending them out, and at persistently sending them after rejection.

I read recently that Kevin J. Anderson once won a contest of who had the heaviest pile of rejections (he has over 800). I may not always like what he writes, but I can respect that sticking to it pays off in the end.

As for this blog – I’m still posting, just less often. Think of it as my way of ensuring that the blog entries you read are actually worth your time, given how rare they are.

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