Monday, July 2, 2012

Instant Gratification

No. This post isn't about self-publishing. It could be. I can't think of anything instant about traditional publishing. Wait! *shakes head* Nope. If you want instant gratification, you'd better grab a bag of Swedish Fish or a jar of Nutella. You're not going to find it in the publishing world.

That said, I like writing poetry and tiny stories. A few years ago, I hypothesized that my little writing projects were probably sucking away time and energy that I should be devoting to larger projects, and I quit making them a priority. If inspiration struck, I still wrote the story or poem, but looking through my records, I just realized that I haven't been submitting anything to editors. The last poem I had published, the one published by Highlights High Five, I submitted in 2009.

I also realized that my experiment has not reinforced my belief that these side projects take away from my writing as a whole. On the contrary, writing the little stuff and interacting with editors has been and will continue to be an important part of my writing journey.

Aside from the obvious fact that perfecting stories on a smaller scale is good practice for perfecting them on a larger scale, I like having something out on submission. Most of the writing I send out gets rejected, and rejections aren't so fun. But knowing that editors are reading my work keeps me focused, infuses me with hope. And with smaller projects I feel the gratification that comes from finishing something. It's a good feeling. And opening up an envelope to find a contract from an editor who wants to buy your work? That's a great feeling. The only thing better than receiving a contract is looking over complimentary copies of your finished work. It's worth the rejection and the time spent because it makes me better; it makes me happy. It's time for a new experiment.

What makes you happy? Do you ever experiment, or is my inner-nerd shining through? 

8 comments:

  1. In the autumn, after I turned in all my papers (I wrote 32 pages in six days for finals--urgh), I could barely string together a sentence. It was frustrating for me, but very entertaining for my friends. I was pretty sure I'd used up all my words and wouldn't be getting any more for a few days at least.

    I was wrong. That night after I got home from dinner, I was blindsided by a very strange little thousand-word story. I went to bed thinking, "Okay, that was...weird." The next morning, I read it again and discovered to my surprise that I LIKED it a lot!

    That's all to say that sometimes, you burn through one type of mental circuitry, but can and should still use other related types. (In the morning, you see, I could talk again.) I experiment a lot. It's fun.

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    1. Yes to your last paragraph! I spent three hours revising yesterday (was thinking about you because I was reading your notes), and then last night when I was going through some papers I came across a cute little poem I'd written and wondered why I hadn't submitted it. So, I typed it up and came up with a cover letter. But it had been SO long since I'd submitted that I thought I'd better check submission guidelines, just in case, and then I wrote this post.

      You do know I'd be happy to read anything of yours, don't you?

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  2. Since I took up blogging, I haven't been submitting my work at all, but I think that's just a phase for me. I'm still an avid blogger, but I'm not as consumed with it as I was, and I'm beginning to feel the pull to get out there and test the market again.

    I think I will submit some children's stories in verse that I have written for my grandkids. But I still don't feel the yen to publish my poems in literary journals or magazines that I once felt. I think I just prefer putting them up on my poetry blog because they get more exposure there.

    Having said that, you are right. It's fun having manuscripts out there. Exciting to see what gets sold and what doesn't. And the contracts are definitely gratifying!

    =)

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    1. I hope you do submit your children's stories. :)

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  3. I need to do more of this, too. I received a couple rejections from Highlights on two short stories and I mentally gave up and reverted to spending more time on novels. But I do miss writing the stories. They are (more) like instant gratification than the YEARS it can take to write a novel. I need to be better (and more determined) in submitting them. I don't know why I have a harder time with the short stories than I do with novels. Weird. Maybe because I have the submission process for novels down, and the snail mail required by most magazines still feels slightly uncomfortable. Not sure, but you have inspired me to focus on this a little more. I think writing shorter things does make our writing better and keeps the creative juices flowing. :)

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    1. It is a different sort of submission process, and it's normal to see rejections, even when you have editors who like to work with you. They can't buy something just because they like it. Your piece has to fit in with whatever else they have going into a particular issue. If you find an editor who writes personalized rejections and encourages you to submit again, keep submitting to that one; he or she likes your writing.

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  4. I like having stuff out on submission, too. It kind of takes the pressure off of whatever I happen to be writing at the time for some reason--maybe because there is already something DONE that is OUT ThERE so my poor little story (or whatever it is that I am working on) doesn't have to carry all the burden of my writing hopes.

    And sometimes, that weight really stifles my creativity. (Like right now, I am working on two novels at a time, so that neither of them will crack under the pressure....)

    Great post!

    Shelley

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    1. Yes! That is exactly how I feel about it. :o)

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