Friday, May 29, 2015

A New Goal

Last weekend I attended Wiscon, aka The World's Leading Feminist Science Fiction Convention. I picked up some tips at a session on writing while parenting. I was awed by the Sierra Nevada mountain range during a slide-show presentation by Kim Stanley Robinson about the work of nature writer/environmental activist John Muir. I was inspired by readings and speeches by this year's Guests of Honor (the aforementioned KSR and Alaya Dawn Johnson.) I had the start of my WIP critiqued by fellow writers under the guidance of the very generous Delia Sherman.  I bought a pile of books. I sold two felted creatures. I connected with Wiscon friends.

All around another grand weekend binging on science fiction and fantasy.

But by far the highlight was a workshop on submitting your short story for publication. Here's the program description:

Bring your laptop and learn how to write a query letter, format your story, and choose markets -- and submit it, right at the con! A supportive Den Parent or several will be around for hand-holding and advice. Bond with your fellow writers just starting out, and take concrete steps towards getting published.

And was I ever in need of supportive Den Parent.

Before going to this workshop I had, of course, submitted my work many, many times. To my writing group, to my best friend, to my partner, to my get the drift: not so much submitting to the publishing industry. Well, good news, that reluctance has now been tamed into submission. I sent off "Birch and the Queen of Dirt" during the session.

Excited by that first step, I decided to submit "Old Glassy's Way" over lunch.

I still hadn't gotten enough; the next day, "The River's Edge" got zipped out into the world.

So far I've gotten two form rejections. Bummer, right? Time to sit around for a couple of days moping for sure.

But no! I took those two stories and I resubmitted them as soon as I got the news.

Here's what's helping me make it through the disappointment rejections inevitably bring and still hold on to the tenacity needed to keep submitting:

  1. I've decided to make this a practice. When I get a rejection, I will find another potential market for the story and send it out again right away. I'm good with setting rules and following them.
  2. I've been inspired by writing friends who have 80-100 rejections under their belt. You can't be published if you don't send your work out, after all.
  3. I've given myself a new goal. It is not to get published; I've tried to set that target a bit to the side. Instead, my mission is to get 20 rejections by the end of the summer. If I get them, I'm calling it a success and I'm taking myself out for a fancy dinner.
  4. I've also given myself a reward system for each rejection: my best friend, my sweetie, and my mother are all in charge of coming up with 6-7 ideas for small treats. When I get a rejection, I get to ask one of them what my next treat will be. So far I've gotten an invisible love poem (with the pen/light that makes the writing glow in the dark) and I've got another treat coming in the mail. So when I get a rejection my response is "Yippee, a new surprise treat for me!" I love surprises. I love anticipation. I love little treats. I will get those treats, I tell you. I WILL GET THEM ALL! 
I admit when I got the first two rejections, there was still a bit of "Dang, why didn't they love my story as much as I do?" But so far I'm still excited to be resubmitting.

And I'm already a tenth of the way to my goal.


Jon said...

Congratulations, Lisa! Keep it up!

Mark Teats said...

Lisa: Awesome! Keep on submitting. I've been doing a lot of that myself lately (with a few rejections--although still waiting on a couple poems that are out there entered into some contests). The thing that surprises me is how much work it seems to take to submit something. Maybe it gets easier with time? I like your "rewards" idea. Fun!

Shawn Enderlin said...

Surprises - what a great idea!

And glad to hear you are getting out there!!