I found a couple of short-story rejections in my email this morning. That’s always tough to deal with, although one thing that’s a little bit heartening is that I’m starting to get to the point where I’m getting personalized rejections with critiques, rather than form rejections. Which is a major step up!
And it’s interesting to me that there’s a recurring theme to the critiques, which confirms something I had suspected about my stories: they tend to ramble. This is the thing that keeps getting pointed out — my stories have good characters and ideas, but they’re loose and unfocused, and need to be tightened up.
I’ve always known that I had a tendency to do this. My betas have also pointed it out. It’s partly, I guess, that I naturally lean towards long-form rather than short-form writing, and this means that I want to stuff ALL the worldbuilding and ALL the characterization into my short stories — and you just can’t. But even in my longer stories, I do need to teach myself some better editing skills, and better techniques for maintaining suspense.
I know this is going to sound embarrassingly full of myself, but I’m one of those people who is used to being good at things. I breezed through school and always did very well at work. Of course, the down side of that (and this is true of a lot of other “smart” people I know) is that we maintain our mental image of ourselves as “person who is good at stuff” by only doing things we’re good at. When we run into something that’s hard for us, something we can’t pick up quickly, we have a tendency to reject it and do something we already know how to do instead. Which is obviously not a good life habit to develop. And it’s humbling and probably very character-building to have something that I want very badly to do, and work very hard on, that I’m actually not that good at — or, at least, not nearly as good as a whole lot of other people that I’m tacitly having to compete with.
Just for the heck of it, because I like numbers, the other day I was playing around with my submission spreadsheets to see how my numbers track over the years.
|2013 (so far)
This is slightly misleading because some of the “unique stories” are actually from previous years. However, these numbers definitely indicate that I’m not sending out enough stories, and in particular I’m not doing nearly as well as I should be at resubmitting the same story to different markets. In 2012, for example, I was basically only sending out any given story once, and that will never do. (In 2011 I kinda gave up. :P )
This month I’ve set a new goal for myself of (minimum) 5 submissions each month for the rest of the year. Get a story back, turn right around and send it out again until it sells somewhere. That’s the plan!
Crossposted from Wordpress