Category Archives: Uncategorized

Taking Rejection like a Boss

I am the Rejection Queen! Watch me laugh in the face of defeat!

Actually, I don’t consider receiving a rejection letter to be a defeat. Not anymore. I don’t love rejection emails, but they don’t ruffle me like they used to. When I first started submitting stories to magazines, anthologies and competitions (four years ago, almost to the day), every ‘it’s not for us’ email stung. I cried once or twice, wondering if I’d ever get anywhere with writing. Over the next year or two I had a couple of positive replies, the occasional writing ‘win’, but so few and far between! Still, as time went on, rejection emails affected me less and less. I grew a thicker skin and began to believe in myself, just a little.

These days, I read the email and move on. Mostly I feel neutral, like I do when I’m cleaning my teeth. Sometimes I sigh, but that’s about it. I’ve decided it’s simply a numbers game. Write, re-write, polish, send out. Write, re-write, polish, send out. I don’t wait for replies on anything – I just go on to the next project. (Or sometimes I bake. There are times when cake is needed first.) I figure spending time mourning a story not accepted just gets in the way of finding the next possible placement for that piece, or blocks the writing of a fresh, new story.

I just counted them up, and since my very first submission, I have sent out 89 pieces (many of these are repeat submissions). I try to have at least ten stories out at any one time. Currently I have twelve pieces out there in the big, wide world, so I’m happy with that. I figure all I can do is write the best work I can and send it to well-suited homes. The rest is in the lap of the writing gods.

I’m hoping for some good news soon. I’m ready for an acceptance email or a competition win. But if nothing happens, if the next writing mail is a rejection, I’ll pull on my big girl panties, adjust my Rejection Queen tiara, (make a quick red velvet cake) and take it like a boss.

*Feel free to leave a comment … I wrote this in the hope that other writers might feel less alone, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.*

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Big award for female writers

I stumbled across this today – an award with a huge prize ($50,000 US) available to women authors with a short story, novel or screenplay that ‘gives an insight into the lives of women’. The deadline is June 8, so you have a little time (and the shortlist comes out June 22).

Got something you could submit? Here’s the link.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Stories and a poem

I’ve been reading a lot of short stories lately, soaking them in. Helen Simpson, Cate Kennedy, Angela Carter. Christos Tsolkas, George Saunders. Flannery O’Connor, Alice Munro and Lorrie Moore. Joyce Carol Oates and Raymond Carver. Sometimes I am almost breathless at the end of a piece, and I have to get up and move and shake myself. These writers blow my mind.

I’ve also been reading a bit of poetry, in a small volume I bought myself a couple of years ago, Penguin’s Poems for Life. And although I’ve read this particular poem before, and no doubt you’ve seen it too, when I read it today I had that breathless feeling again. It’s by Raymond Carver, written when he knew he was dying of lung cancer.

***

 

Late Fragment

And did you get what

you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself

beloved on the earth.

 

***

 

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Redemption

So, it seems I’m a terrible blogger. No post for over a year – abysmal. But here I am, just checking in. Trying to redeem myself.

It’s a funny thing about redemption – that seems to be the theme of so many of my stories. I’m attracted to the idea that no matter what mistakes we make, despite how we mess up and do the wrong thing as we muddle through life, there is always the potential for change. There is always hope, no matter how small.

This applies to writing as well as people, I think. I wrote a really bad story last year (so bad it frightened me. I’m not being dramatic, it actually terrified me how bad it was. I had trouble continuing to write). But because I am finally learning that to create a good story, you must write a whole lot of awfulness (or middling-ness, at best), then revise, edit, change, fix … because I am finally realising that only weird genius writers actually write stuff fully-formed, I let it rest. I let the smelly, messy, bulging bag of manure just sit there in the corner. I pretended I didn’t even know it was mine, and I wrote some other bits and pieces to console myself. Finally, I opened the bag of excrement that was my story, and kind of gently poked around (with gloves on, of course), and found something in there that wasn’t poo! It smelt a bit and took me awhile to separate from the poo, but it wasn’t actual poo. Let’s just say it was grass, or a stick. Not a diamond that’s for sure.

Anyway I took that tiny section, and stretched it out; I cleaned it and brushed it, and lo! it is not too bad. I’m not saying it’s going to win any accolades, but it’s got some redeeming features. I like it.

So to any other newbie writers out there – I say don’t be afraid of the poo. Keep all your dodgy, smelly stories, and come back to them. There will be something good there, no matter how small.

And now I must go. There’s another sack waiting to be opened.

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

What I Have Learnt From Quitting my Sensible Job and Writing Made-Up Stories All Year

1) Change is terrifying

2) Change is good

3) To become better as a writer it’s important to read plenty of good writing and to write a lot.

4) It’s not hard to read but writing is hard. Suck it up, do it anyway.

5) Some jobs (like my previous job) give you status, ego stroking and a daily sense of making a difference. Writing isn’t like that.

6) Learning something new (writing and surgical assisting in my case) when you’re not a young thing is bruising. You feel five years old again. People treat you like the imbecile that you seem to be. Suck it up, do it anyway. (My nurse friend told me “Now you know how I get treated every day”. Gulp.)

7) Supportive family and friends are an absolute blessing.

8) I’m braver than I thought.

9) Persistence really does pay. I’m getting a story published (in The Suburban Review) this month, and I’m so happy, and grateful for the opportunity. I honestly didn’t believe I’d be published by now. So I guess sending stuff off, even when you feel terrified at the thought of others reading your imperfect work, is the only way to get your work read.

10) I love making up stories.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

A neglected garden

I haven’t taken to blogging a second time around (obviously). Last time I blogged, which was from 2005-2010, I had an anonymous blog. That was incredibly freeing. I wrote whatever I wanted about anything I wanted. I used nicknames only, never posted photos showing faces, and I was honest and open, without fear of ‘the wrong person’ reading my words (whoever that might be. At the time, mainly people who might roll their eyes and say she is SUCH a drama queen – or something equally unkind/true).

Blogging under my own name is not so much fun. I feel really self-conscious and stilted. So I’ve been working away, doing a ton of writing, but none of it here. Very unsociable I know. This blog has wilted and become overgrown with weeds.

I’m happy to accept that blogging as a writer isn’t going to be my thing, but I’ll leave this blog up as a way for anyone to get in contact, should the need arise. And I’ll go take a wander around the many thriving gardens.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Countdown

It’s all happening. In less than two weeks, I will walk away from my life as a clinician. Instead I’ll be doing some part-time work in a more simple medical job that will keep some income coming in, but that won’t occupy my mind all hours of the night and day.

I’m terrified and excited, both at once. I have no idea how the whole writing world works, and I have a steep learning curve ahead of me. I’m reading and writing as much as I can. I hope to do some study in creative writing down the track. I’d be grateful for any words of wisdom from other writers! What are your top tips for a writer starting out?

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized