After a series of rejections, I checked my email late yesterday to find that a story of mine had, in fact, been accepted for publication. I’ve got to say, that is one good feeling. 🙂

I fixed it up and sent it back, and now… well, I’ll let you know when and where you can see it as soon as I can. It’s the steampunk/zombie mashup that I did called “Dr. Adderson’s Lens.” I was proud of it! And now even more so.

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After getting two rejections on short stories in just about two days (okay, three maybe now that I think about it–I’ve been under the weather) and twittering a bit back and forth with Paul Jessup, the concept of rejection is certainly on the brain.

What’s my reaction? Well, I’ve had rejections before. Used to that. Doesn’t make me happy to get rejections–I mean, who would, right? But it does make me mad, in a way. In a good way, I think. It gets my gritty determination going, my resolve. Makes me want to write more, and better, and cooler, and weirder…

And that’s good.

Michael linked a great interview with Ira Glass talking about storytelling, and how you get better–and how, many people, when they’re still in the growing stages, give up on their work because of a few rejections. They never move past the crappy/mediocre into something great. I highly recommend you watch.

It’s not easy for anyone to get published, not even seasoned writers (unless you’re from a select few who are Untouchables in the industry). Thing is, you have to keep at it. Or you don’t. Either you decide that you’re in it, or you’re not. For some, there’s a breaking point. For others, there isn’t. You just keep moving along in the hopes that somewhere along the way your little baby of a story will resonate with the right editor for the right issue for the right publication.

Anyway, polishing up a new one, contemplating homes for it. Then back at it again.

FriggaStephen King calls it telepathy, this ability to conjure unseen worlds into words, and by extension, pictures. It certainly is an odd vocation, to be a writer, and all of us who write by compulsion have our own approaches. Some are regimented, they can sit down and say “I’m going to write 3,000 words” and they do. Others plan every step up to the writing, taking copious notes and making outlines, and then sit down to do the work. Still others just wait, listening in the dark corners, for fancy to strike.

My process is odd, I admit. I’m highly undisciplined, and–though this time ’round I’ve broken a little with tradition–I typically don’t organize, and often have no idea where in the Universe the story is going in a given chapter, until I’m there. Most of my ideas appear to me as I’m falling asleep, a combination of events that’s meant I often have a difficult time getting to sleep. I write “in the dark” I suppose, waiting for glimpses of light in between cracks, and then excavating what I see.

The Aldersgate started when my friend Karen said to me, “I’m surprised you’ve never written a Western.” In the space of about three minutes, half of the characters in the novel appeared to me with astonishing clarity. I scribbled down some of the first chapter (which is now completely rewritten) and set the scene, then let it be for quite some time. You see, I was editing Another Book which, at this point, is sitting in cold storage for a while. Then it became apparent to me that it was time to work more on The Aldersgate, and in the space of about half a year, I wrote the entire first draft.

And by draft, really I mean outline. I just can’t plan ahead. It’s not in my nature. And I’m crud at actually editing my own work. I’m such a fast typer that I usually find it much better to simply rewrite the chapters as opposed to editing the bits and pieces. Whether or not this saves time, I don’t know. I just know that the second draft (the one I’m reading from which as also been edited by my brilliant godfather) is much, much stronger than the first.

But there are times where telling the story becomes such a Huge Thing that I get rather tongue-tied. Or, I suppose, finger-tied. I’m tossed into brain numbness. It’s not writer’s block, because I know where the story is going (at least now I do). I even outlined all my chapters to the end (yes, I’m proud of myself). It’s just at times it feels like there’s so much to say and so much to do and so many words to write–and write well–that I just can’t get it right. The last month or so has been replete with hurdles, writing huge sections and deleting them, restructuring, moving around, petitioning the Muse (Aelfric has one heck of a sense of humor, I tell you).

I just finished a chapter that was, I noticed, at the exact center of the novel. I didn’t realize this until I finished it, and it was hideously long. But it had to be long. It establishes one of the most important themes of the whole books, and one of the most important locations of the entire series. I couldn’t very well leave it to a few thousand words. Writing felt tedious though, and when I finally came up for air and looked at my word count it was shockingly high–in fact, the longest chapter I’ve written to date.

When it comes down to it I don’t know if I can suggest writing a multi point-of-view novel to anyone. Sure, they’re entertaining to read, and often a ton of fun to write. If you love getting inside of multiple characters, it’s truly thrilling. However, I get stuck. What if I don’t feel like Emry today, but I’ve got to finish this Emry chapter? How about what happens when Cora and Emry cross paths? Whose narrative do I go with? Whose do I drop? Where is everyone else? Where is my MAP?

My map is in my brain and it’s a perilous place in there. I lament the fact that my poor characters have to rattle around up there, in between the junk that I store, waiting to be put down in ink.

Process. We all do it differently. I suppose, when all is said and done, so long as it works for you, then it is successful. Very few writers approach their work the same way, and why should they? We don’t all want to write the same book (though some critics I read in grad school would argue that yes, we’re all writing the same book).

I think it’s a little late in the evening to be blogging, but I’ve been a bit too quiet. I’m working on putting together a .pdf version of Chapters One and Two and should be posting Chapter Two this weekend.

Well, I’m off to dream the next chapter. Cheers. 🙂

Aspiring novelist seeks wealthy patron. Still has lots of years left in her. Is awesome. I promise. Except that was a sentence fragment, so that might make me look worse than I intend. Oh… screw it.

Last night I jokingly mentioned to my husband that I should put an ad in Craigslist looking for a patron. While this concept is, I know, laughable in our culture, it wasn’t always so. You know, as early fifteenth century, Christine de Pizan was not only a professional writer, but she was supporting her whole family by it. And it had nothing to do with royalties.

Patrons supported writers, provided them with money and living expenses, so that they could foster the growth of culture in their society. I suppose, these days, there are so many kinds of arts, and so many bizarre takes on art, that wealthy people aren’t exactly tripping over themselves to throw money at ’em.

But if getting a patron means having to live in a time period without private bathrooms, and with sewers that run through the main roads… well, I think I have the better end of the deal.

I guess, all in all, I just have to keep plowin’ on, eh?