Why do you want to write, anyway?

If Fitzgerald had my temperament, he could never have written even his first book, he would have gone straight to drinking.

Advertisements
Journaling with a fountain pen again …

Why do we write? I ask this of myself sometimes. The answer is obvious, for me, perhaps as it is for you: I can’t stop.

Yesterday, the yoga teacher asked us to consider that our strengths become our weaknesses and our weaknesses become our strengths.

I thought about this, and how I tend to go too hard and then despair. This goes for writing as well as yoga. There have been times, too, in my life when I quit writing: when we moved to Canada, and when I began teaching school. At these times, I had too much stress and exhaustion.

At other times, there was another struggle: I love to write but I hate being rejected! And I can’t write for publication when I’m stressed out. If Fitzgerald had my temperament, he could never have written even his first book, he would have gone straight to drinking.

But there was one time I wrote because I was stressed. It was because I needed hope when we came home from Italy. I tried to write three pages on lined paper, every morning, with a fountain pen. I did this in total silence, before the kids got up. This practice somehow lightened my mood.

There was no submissions or rejections in journaling. I was totally alone with this writing. Though I occasionally suspected Leo was reading my journal, in general I felt safe with saying what I wanted, confident that any decipherment of these papers would happen in terms of my grown children reading the words after I died, and that would happen only if they had significant perseverance and interest and patience with cursive handwriting.

When I feel better, I think about writing a novel, a memoir, a blog post, an article for publication, but when I’m low, it’s all about writing for myself. A shout into the future, saying: “I’m here.” And perhaps that’s where it all flows from. When I want to be published, it just means the pain level is lower. that I feel safe in expanding my horizons. But when I feel low, I write for myself.

Why do you write?

It didn’t take very long for me to get ticked off at paying for submissions

Yeah, I have to admit.  The first month I decided to try it, I spent $73, most on entering three contests, which do tend to be pricey, but the rest on those $3 Submittable submission fees.  And after doing it, I didn’t feel as good as I hoped. 

The stats on the paid for subs aren’t really promising, yet, either, although I have yet to hear from most of them: 


Paid subs:  8, one rejection, 7 still out.  That’s 13% rejection, and 87% still in submission. 

Unpaid subs:  28, 5 rejections, one requested manuscript, 22 still out.  That would be:  17% rejection, 4% acceptance (count manuscript request as acceptance) and 79% still in submission. 


The contests still haven’t been called, and they could be a big deal, or no deal, but at this point, the pay-for-subs plan is still unproven.

As for my emotional response to putting almost my whole allowance in the submission payments pile, well, that’s just one more hurdle faced by being a writer.  As is Monday morning ennui. 

Need to get up and go to the library. 

How will I know whether it’s time to send the Manuscript out? And what will I do once it is?

Since I started querying my novel last week, I’ve had a couple of conversations with friends on twitter and everywhere else too about the querying process, when you should send out you book, how many people should you query at a time, how long might it take, how will you feel, and how will you know if this is the final edit, the final agent, etc … it’s left me with the feeling Whitney Houston sings about in her famous song:  How Will I Know?

I found a blog post on The Debutante Ball this morning by Martine Founier Watson, debut author of 2019, who tells us of her own experience of getting an agent, including within the post all those intangibles (not how to write a query, but how to get the fortitude to send one out, for example) that you and I need to know to keep querying and keep revising.  I heartily recommend this blog post.  I have read a lot of blogs about writing and this one really delivers the goods. 

Thank you Martine!


Online Memoir Summit from Village Writing School: Going on now, and it’s free!!!

All right, if you don’t have something to do this weekend, and you’re interested in Memoir and Creative Nonfiction, or you just want to listen to  some very cool and inspirational writing videos by some knowledgeable and admirably-published writers, MFA teachers, and industry insiders, here’s your gig.  And you don’t even have to pay for it.  Unbelievable.

What: Village Writing School Memoir Summit

When:  This weekend

Where: Your home computer

How: By Youtube video

Why: Because it’s the exact same type of presentation you get from going to a writer’s conference, without the travel time and the price tag of $100 to $400.

Submissions Challenge Month Three: Accepting the hard work of writing; rejection statistics of the month

By the end of the month, I had run through my budget for submitting and was only submitting to free markets.

Submission Tracker 3It is now that I begin to see the real hard work of writing.  I mean, in order to get 22 submissions in 30 days, I had to pretty much work on the submissions challenge every weekend day and some nights.  Kindof like grad school.

Actually, it was grad school which made me believe I could do this.  It was clear from finishing grad school that if I was disciplined, I could carve a good 15 to 20 hours of writing/reading/thinking time out of the average work week, with short bursts of up to 40 to 50 hours in seven days.  Deciding to apply that kind of work load to writing was just the next step.

This month I have made 22 submissions.  I received two “warmer” rejections, each with an invitation to resubmit, from literary magazines.  I received five “stone cold” rejections, with one flash fiction piece getting a quick rejection twice.  I wrote “what’s wrong with this story” on its line on the submission tracker and stopped submitting it for the moment.

I did not get a request of any type from any of the four #pitchwars mentors I queried.  Although I’m sure I’m not alone, it was a disappointment.  Made me feel like back when I was in 7th grade, and I wasn’t one of the popular girls. Perhaps I will try again next year.  To the organization’s credit, they didn’t charge me or any other contestant anything, which given some of the other contest fees could be seen as quite generous.

Last month I wrote that I was willing to pay to make submissions and enter contests.  I spent $73 submitting stories this month, mostly for three contests.  In addition, I paid $8.50 for the Literistic List of the Month, which was pretty helpful.  During the second half of the month, I saw several more contests I might have entered. But it just cost too much. By the end of the month, I had run through my budget for submitting and was only submitting to free markets.  We get paid on the first of the month around here.  I had to cut back.

So, to sum up the stats:  9/22 to 10/22

Submissions:  22

Personal or warmer rejections: 2

Stone Cold rejections: 9, including the four from #pitchwars

Still in submission:  23, including six emailed and website-form submissions and 17 with Submittable.

Next month’s goal will be the original first month goal again:  30 submissions in 30 days.

And no, I am not doing NaNoWriMo.   I’m doing my submissions challenge until I get an agent or enough street cred that I’ve got editors who’ll just look at my work.

I admit this may take a while.

 

The query challenge continues, with the surprising recovery of long-lost fiction manuscripts from an unexpected source.

I am moving along on the query challenge.  Not only have I submitted 11 items, had three rejected, and entered the #pitchwars contest, but I began researching submission trackers, both paid and unpaid, for a planned blog post which will tell people what you need to know about constructing or choosing a submission tracker, including a review of Duotrope and Submittable.

Interestingly, when I signed up for Duotrope, I was able to recover a number of good (IMHO) stories that I had lost due to the theft of my computer back in 2009. My long-lost stories were located in my email “sent” file, but I had forgotten where they had been sent and thus how to search for them. I was able to find them because my submissions were entered and had been maintained all this time on Duotrope.  By backsearching the names of the publications on my email, I found the manuscripts.

Finding the stories again has made me smile.  It’s like being reunited with children who moved out and now have come back.  Whether these kiddos will ever make good, I’m not sure. But there is the potential to give them a chance by entering them into the query challenge roster.  In fact, one or two has already gone out.

How to Write a Cover Letter for a Submission of Completed work, and do you put a Salutation in the Cover Letter Blank on Submittable?

So, getting down to the submissions for the Query Challenge.  On Submittable, on most (not all) of the forms they ask you for a cover letter and you have to type it into the blank.  My standard cover letter is:

(salutation)

(one to two sentences about the work I am submitting and what the theme or intent of the work is)

(standard bio paragraph, which right now is most-noted publications plus professional affiliations and biggest current project, my novel)

(standard paragraph thanking them for considering the work)

(name)

But what should the salutation be?

“Dear Editor”

“Dear Editorial Team”

“Dear (name of editor I looked up on their masthead)

“Dear (name of journal)

or … nothing, just go into the letter.

Any thoughts?