Submissions mean rejections, sometimes

The last few weeks, I’ve gotten back into the habit of submitting my work for consideration. For two or three years now, I’ve only submitted a couple of stories or poems a year. Mostly, they sold, and I’m grateful for that, but instead of taking that forward momentum and going with it, I retreated back into the day-to-day stress of trying to make a living. Neglecting what I love for what I need to survive.

But what kind of life is that? All along, I’ve wanted to keep working. It took a long time to convince myself that I’m in a secure enough place in my life that I can write, some, and submit, some. Get out there. Take a chance. So, I’ve been putting effort into that. I’ve been going through old work, looking at it critically, and revising it. (I take real joy in seeing that I’ve improved as a writer from where I was two years ago – and I was pretty good then.) I’ve even been submitting it to places that scare me. Big markets, pro rate markets, markets with tiny acceptance rates.

And I’ve already gotten some rejections, because that’s what happens when you share your stories. Not everyone wants to buy them. Even when they like the writing, it’s not always marketable, or it’s not the right fit for them at this time. When you aren’t writing something already bought (like a novel your publisher’s already contracted you for), you are guessing when you send your work into the world. There’s no guarantees you’ll succeed. The more you send out, the more rejections you garner, and that adds up. If you let it, it eats away at you.

It doesn’t bother me anymore, for a couple of reasons. One, I know that I’m a good writer and also a marketable one: I have a higher acceptance rate than I do rejections. Most authors can’t say that. Two, I know it’s the cost of participating in the process. All writers get rejected at some point. Often, you get rejected dozens or hundreds of times.

Third, and most important: I don’t want to sell a bad story to a bad market. That doesn’t help me. My goal isn’t quantity, it’s quality. I would rather publish two or three pieces a year, in solid, respectable markets, and eventually garner a reputation for quality, memorable writing, than be that writer who’s got 100 or a 1000 sales to low-paying or reprint markets, churning out forgettable work so similar as to be meaningless. For me, the path I’m on as a writer means being receptive when editors tell me this piece or that one needs work, or isn’t right for their market. I listen when an editor tells me to try somewhere else. I listen when an editor or my readers tell me that this line or that section doesn’t work within a story, even if I loved it. I’ll read slush for Lakeside Circus and I’ll read great authors and I’ll read everything that interests me, because I learn from it all.

I can convince myself to put my ego aside and create the best possible fiction because I know how amazing it feels to get an acceptance for a story or poem I’m truly proud of, and that’s the feeling I want more of. So I’ll take that rejection, and those notes, and that revision (or three) and I’ll get better. And try again.

College is expensive, but you can help (Plus, Free Fiction!)

Late start classes began yesterday; I’m taking a 10 week Sociology class that just began, so this also means that my final installment payment for my Spring semester tuition/fees is due. For spring, I still owe $718.00. I’m also taking one class over the summer, to hurry my education along, and the cost for that will be another $600. Together, that’s $1318.00 still due on top of what I’ve already paid, plus what I pay to take care of rent and food and that child I’m so fond of. I’m doing well, financially, compared to the last couple of years: I’m working every freelance job that comes my way, I’m carefully watching my spending, and for the most part, we’re okay each month… which hadn’t been true for a while. It’s the cost of college that’s above and beyond what I can manage on my own.

If you’d like to help, you can do so by:

Contributing directly with a one-time donation through my PayPal account.

Subscribing to my Patreon (where you’ll get sneak peeks at my writing work in progress, and other treats each month)

Hiring me to edit your project, or taking my upcoming flash fiction workshop

I even have an Amazon page, if you’ve got some extra Amazon credit and want to help out with household supplies.

So far, I’m doing well in my classes. I’ve got a 4.0 GPA, going into midterms, and I’m hoping that with enough hard work, I can carry that through the semester. I’m applying for scholarships for the fall, and I’m learning a lot. I know it will help me find a profitable and stable dayjob when this is all over, so I can stop worrying so much about money, and start spending more energy writing.

Speaking of writing, if you haven’t already, please check out this sorted list of where to start with my writing. Everything with a link – which is nearly every story and poem – is free to read online. Plus, you can get the digital editions of my short collection, Women and Other Constructs, for FREE. Download a bundle of all 3 ebook formats, here, or individually: ePubMobi, or PDF. If you don’t have it, please take it, read it, or give it to a friend. Posting so much for free online is my way of saying thank you, for your continued support.

Using Scrivener for NonFiction (with links)

I got Scrivener as a birthday present last year, and up until this week I’d been using it to work on a couple of novels. The workflow suits my note-taking style: I jot things down wherever I can, whenever I’m thinking of it, and then have to assemble the pieces when I have a bigger chunk of time to do so. As I’ve gotten used to Scrivener, gotten into the habit of collecting my various bits of writing this way, I’ve expanded how I use it. First, I started putting together a new short story collection (though I’m still writing the stories in a separate text document and copying them over). Today, I started porting my notes over from a nonfiction project I’ve been kinda sorta working on the the last two years.

I mean that in the sense that I maybe worked on it a few days a month, but enough that over time I’ve got a good idea in my head of the book’s structure, contents, and style. I know this book. I know the point of it. I know how to write it. All that’s left is the research to back up what I’m saying. Well, and a lot of writing things down.

It turns out, there’s less of that to do than I thought. Once I got everything imported into Scrivener, I discovered my disparate notes actually make up a solid framework. If I can find the time to devote to more research, I think I can have a complete draft done in a few months.

What’s great about writing nonfiction in Scrivener? In addition to the ease of simply writing out of order, as you think of whatever you’re writing that day, I like:

  • Using the split screen, or a QuickReference panel, to keep a separate file open to compile a glossary as I write.
  • References! Citations! Keeping track of every title I used for research! It’s a bit complex to set up, but this is a great explanation.

I also found some links that might help you if you’re writing any flavor of nonfiction with Scrivener:

Want More Diverse Voices in Writing? Please Support the Lao Writers Summit 2016

One way to encourage a greater range of diversity in the writers we have access to is to support spaces where they can go to develop their skills. My friend Bryan Thao Worra is one of the keynote speakers at this year’s Lao Writers Summit, taking place May 27 and 28 in San Diego, CA. Bryan is a poet and genre author, as well as a leader in his community, constantly working to promote Lao American writers, genre fiction, and speculative poetry.

The focus of this year’s summit is:

finding an answer to the question of how do Lao Americans use writing to push art, creative works, and policy/grants using ingrained themes of Lao / Lao American Diaspora history to create visibility of community issues while crafting work that will be coined as Lao American for future years to come. Lao Americans are creating spaces for themselves to explore the possibilities through presentations, panels, and participatory workshops lead by emerging and established Lao American artists.

To do that, Sahtu Press is crowdfunding part of the expense, along with the Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota, a Minneapolis-based non-profit refugee resettlement organization established since 1982.

Since 2010, LAWS has recognized and brought together over 250 writers of all genres including poets, playwrights, filmmakers, teachers and policymakers.

As of today, they’re 33% of the way toward their goal. Please take a moment to visit their fundraising page and contribute.

Thank you.