IWSG: My Race Score Sucks

September 4, 2014

Well, it’s time for Insecure Writers’ Support Group again!

I said, a little earlier this year, that I would submit lots of writing and my ‘race score’ would soar to incredible heights. If you haven’t heard of it, the race score is basically just one for each story you have out at a market, and it’s one of a few different ways to ‘gamify’ the submissions grind. There are a few other rules; I think simultaneous subs, if you do them, don’t count for extra race points, and longer things like novel partials and full novel manuscripts (out at an agent or directly to a publisher) count for multiple points.

Just at the moment, my race score is 1, thanks to ‘Return to Civilization’, which has been in the Analog slushpile since January now. The other two stories I’ve submitted over the past year, (including “Love is a Masterpiece” that got an Honorable Mention with Writers of the Future) are in this weird limbo hold where I don’t know where to submit them now.

I even had a two-step plan for how to bring my race score back up, but both steps are lagging. I was going to fast-track revisions on “TimeBubble Blues” and “Gotta Have That Look” so I could start sending them out–and I’m still not feeling confident in the revisions. And I was going to start scouting out new markets that I could submit to.

I’m not even sure why the scouting part is something I’m hitting so much resistance on. I love reading genre short stories. I really like finding out new places to read shorts and figuring out what kind of stuff they want most.

At least I think I like it, so why haven’t I been doing any of it lately? 😦

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My first brush with Rejectomancy

March 21, 2014

I’ve heard a lot about rejectomancy, the practice of puzzling over a rejection letter and trying to figure out what it means. I even critiqued a very fun story where the term was taken literally and the MC could always tell what was on somebody’s mind from any sort of rejection, be it verbal, electronic, or printed. But I guess I’ve never really gotten into the act until today, where I sorta tripped over it backwards.

I’m not going to share the market with you all, but it’s a pro market that takes science fiction and fantasy. I submitted ‘Tough Love’ to them a week ago, and got an email back this morning saying no thanks, it didn’t push enough boundaries for them, and actually suggesting that I read what they publish to get a better feel for it. (D’oh!) I did read a few stories from this market before I submitted, but I guess I didn’t pick up on how much they liked really weird stuff, or I put it out of my mind because I thought ‘well, I can’t tell how weird my own stories are.’ Maybe that’s true to a certain extent, but now that I’m really thinking about it, I have to admit that Tough Love is not particularly weird.

One of my Odyssey friends suggested that I should write something weirder next time, but I’m not sure if I can be weird on command. My natural inclination is just to not bother submitting to this market again until one of two things happens: either somebody else suggests them to me as a market for a particular story, or I spontaneously think, “Oh wow, this story is so weird I have to submit it to [Market]!”

🙂


IWSG: Writing without a long-term plan

January 8, 2014

Hi there! Since New Year’s Day fell on a Wednesday, the January meeting of the Insecure Writers Support Group got pushed back a week. Welcome everybody!

I’m actually feeling pretty secure about a lot of writing stuff right now. I got a story draft finished during the Christmas holidays, and I’ve been making some good progress on revising short stories. I’m even up to three Race Points!

However, after reviewing my progress on my 2013 creative goals, I’ve been procrastinating on picking my writing resolutions for the new year. I’ve just come from a great writing year, but some of the most amazing parts were things that I hadn’t planned or anticipated. Maybe the thing that’s tripping me up is that setting concrete goals seems to trivialize or minimize the value of that kind of serendipitous side-journey.

I’ll probably put some kind of 2014 goals down before long; as well as the crowd over at Stringing Words, a few of my Odyssey Team Ambitious friends have been sharing their lists. But right now I’ve set some targets for January and that’s as much looking forward as I’m ready to indulge in.

 


IWSG: Submissions and The Race

December 4, 2013

Hi there! It’s Wednesday, it’s the first week of the month, so that means it’s time to meet with the Insecure Writers Support Group! Today, I wanted to go back to talking about submissions, and something a little scary that I’m going to try: Race points.

It can be really intimidating to send your shorts to a market, where it’ll get judged in the slush pile for all kinds of things you might not know about, and discouraging to keep sending anything out after a rejection.

I hadn’t submitted anything to an actual market in years before this fall. When I was at Odyssey this summer, everybody was really encouraging about submitting, and talking about how it might take up to 100 rejections for a good writer to make their first sale. A lot of my Odyssey classmates are full of plans to become ‘Centurions’ (ie reach their 100th rejection) by next Summer.

Sigh. I’ve made two submissions so far in 2013; got one rejection back, and the other is still in the slush pile.  I think I’ve made progress on letting go of my perfectionism and refusing to leave stories in the trunk because I don’t know enough to fix the flaws I see in them.

I used to be intimidated by Race Scoring, maybe because I felt there was something I was missing, and maybe because I’d come across some really high Race target numbers, (like Dean Wesley Smith’s, which is 60 points! :-o.) The idea with Race points is just to keep your points up at a high level for as long as you can; you get one point for every story that’s submitted and out on the slush pile, you lose the point when it’s rejected or when you get paid for the story. There’s some ‘equivalent points’ stuff to factor in submitting novels and other stuff, but that’s the basic idea. And part of the reason I’m drawn to Race points now is that they’ll keep me from targeting markets that have a really quick turnaround time, as opposed to really good markets where I’d like to make a sale, and that I think are a good fit for my stories.

I think I may keep count of my rejections as well, just to turn something that could be depressing into a badge of honor as a writer.

So, what about you? Any followers out there who are also struggling with the submission grinder?


An Eagle Can’t Sit Waiting on the Wind

August 23, 2013

Well, I’ve been trying to get myself up into submissions gear again, after more than a year since I’ve submitted my work to a market (as opposed to applying for workshops, getting critiques, etcetera.) I set a goal of making a submission in August, which I might not make, just because I don’t want to send anything out that I know I can make better with a little more time.

I find a lot of good personal inspiration in certain country/pop songs, and when I came upon one particular number yesterday, I realized that it could serve as my anthem for submitting fiction. The song is a duet by Mel Tillis and Pam Tillis (who are father and daughter,) and it speaks to me about chasing your dreams instead of sitting around hoping that they’ll find you:

Of course, the big problem is telling the difference between “Waiting on the wind”, and the times that you really need to take a rest because your wings are way too tired. An eagle can’t fly all the time either, and taking off in a dead calm isn’t as easy as it looks.


IWSG: Facing rejection and accepting ‘as good as I can make it now’

August 7, 2013

Okay, it’s time for the August 2013 edition of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Apologies for not participating in July, but I was pretty ragged with Odyssey writing that week, and my blogging was down to the minimum.

It’s nearly two years now since I last submitted anything to a publishing market. At the time, I told myself that I needed to concentrate on the craft, but really, that was probably just my insecurity, finding a way to avoid rejection. Well, I’ve definitely learned a lot about the craft of writing, and I while I was at Odyssey a lot of people told me that I should be submitting a lot, that I was ready for it. Jeanne told me, Sheila Williams told me, Nancy Holder told me, I think Patricia Bray told me, the resident adviser told me and my fellow students told me. So I’m doing it. I’m going to submit again before August is finished, and I’ve set a tentative goal of reaching 42 new rejections in the year after I left Odyssey.

Part of what I’ll need to get me to that goal, as well as a willingness to face the rejection again, is a willingness to accept something short of an ideal perfection in my writing. Basically, if a story’s as good as I can make it right now, then it doesn’t get to sit on the hard drive for months as I learn more about writing; I pound the digital pavement and start sending it out. Yeah, I’m going to learn more about writing in the meantime, and use what I’ve learned to write better stories; maybe I’ll be able to revise something in between rejections, or maybe it’d be better not. But I can’t let the process bottleneck at the end. Keep writing, keep revising, keep submitting.


Goals versus Expectations

September 15, 2012

I’m on Holly Lisle‘s mailing list and get some interesting tips from her on a weekly basis. There was a particularly great email yesterday talking about Goals and what she calls ‘expectations’, which a lot of people confuse. Basically, in her terms, a goal is something that you can achieve, (pretty certainly) if you work at it hard enough, but expectations are the things where all you can do is keep trying, do your best – and hope. Like being signed by an agent, being published, having a best-seller, or winning awards. I think that’s a pretty good way of looking at it.

On the other hand, I’m also a bit of a nit-picker. One of the examples Holly gives as a goal is accumulating X many rejection letters from submitted stories. Myself, I would say that submitting stories X many times is the goal. A rejection letter is an outcome that you have no control over, just like a sale, so you can’t necessarily reach X many rejection letters just by hard work. You’re quite likely to, but that’s not the same thing, because by fluke luck you might keep getting sales.

😀

Yeah, I know that doesn’t make much of a difference in the real world, but I like to think about the remote impossibilities as well.

So – what goals are you working on now, and what hopes and expectations are you entertaining?


Submitting stories

May 4, 2011

I submitted a science fiction story, ‘Harry and Mars’, to a magazine yesterday. I feel somewhat good about having actually gone and sent something in somewhere, but I’m also waiting for the rejection shoe to drop.

The magazine that I sent to is called “Title goes here”, and it seems like an interesting market. I found it through the Duotrope engine.

I’m not really sure if the story is where I want it to be, but I included it in my applications for Clarion and Clarion West, so I figured that it was worth a shot. Then again, Clarion and Clarion West both rejected me already, while Odyssey, which didn’t get a look at this story, put me on wait-list. Hmm.

In a weeks time, the critters get a chance to look at ‘Harry and Mars’, so I guess I’ll see what they think then. And it’s probably a good habit to not let myself wait for a piece to be perfected before I start sending it out, at least when it comes to short fiction. Maybe one editor will like something about a story that I might change if I get a chance to do another draft. It’s more important, in the long run, to be actually getting my work out there, instead of chasing after a shining diamond standard that might be an illusory and unreachable goal…

Right? What do you think??


Duotrope for the win, and other submissions stuff

December 31, 2010

So, one of the items I mentioned on my December goals list was ‘submit two short stories to publishers,’ and I’ve been putting that off. So I finally sat down to do it this afternoon after I got home from work, and I remembered that Elizabeth Twist had mentioned something about a new way to find markets in the Hamilton Nanowrimo lounge. (As well as Ralan, which may be very complete, but just always makes my eyes hurt to spend much time on.)

So – Duotrope! This is a very nifty little writer’s market site, with a submission tracker that lets you state where you’ve submitted what stories, what the response was and how long it took – and a search engine that lets you say what kind of story you’re looking for a market for and it comes back with a list of possibilities. The two of them are integrated, as well, so that you can tell the search engine to order results based on a good acceptance rate or quick response time, and it’ll use stats from other writer’s trackers to give you those results. Very cool.

I submitted the new rewrites of “The Landing” and “Wolves of Wyoming” to places with decent acceptance rates, and spent some time working on getting the formatting right for each of them. And then I came upon something else – this little article at sfwa about the proper way to calculate a word count.

Now, there’s some very good points to this. It makes sense to me that the ‘word count’ that an editor would be interested in would have very little to do with words as we understand them, but more with the characters/6 metric that they were using since back before there were computerized word counters. I hadn’t thought of the extra fudge factor designed to take account for short lines of dialog and estimate how many lines worth the text will cover – though of course that metric will vary based on how many characters per line you can fit in with your font and margins.

The ridiculous thing, to me, is the notion that we should still have to tote this magic number up by hand in the 21st century!

It seems like it should be possible to get an MSword macro to do all the logic for me – but I’m not quite sure if it can actually be done or how, because you’d need to make MSword VBA aware of the way the text is actually broken up into lines on the page. Is there actually some function or property for that?

Happy New year, everybody, and wishing us all great creative energy and focus (not to mention plenty of time,) in 2011.


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