Abject Failure?

What to say about May? May was frustrating.

Nearing the end of April, I finished a new story which I was pretty happy with. So the first week or so of May was spent editing and doing touch-ups. I had a few conversations with the good folks at A Writer’s Recluse who have been my “alpha readers” for years now and got some really good input there. More revisions.

Seeing as how this story was a little different than some of the others I’ve written, both in subject matter and intention, I chose to tap unfamiliar sources for beta readers. This is the first story I’ve written purely with the intent of having it published. So in order to facilitate that goal, I thought I’d get some opinions from people who aren’t familiar with my style; to see if it holds up outside of my safe space. I went to Facebook seeking “beta readers.” Some were more helpful that others, one pointed out a glaring error that neither I nor my alphas spotted (for shame AWR), which I was able to fix, and two never got back to me.  Ultimately, though I’d call that action a success.

Once I heard back from most of my readers I began the task of finding a home for this piece. I’ve been utilizing Duotrope. It’s a handy site with thousands of publishers all along the literary spectrum seeking submissions at varying compensation levels. To say it was overwhelming would be an understatement.

The biggest obstacle I encountered was the categories. Those who know me know that I’m no fan of labels or categories. I dislike using labels to describe creative things because labels create a prejudice. At the same time, I have a very difficult time attaching labels to my work. I’ve asked others where they feel most of my work fits and have never really gotten a good answer. If I had to put a label on it, I’ve decided I’d file most of them under Slip Stream; but only because that label is about as nebulous as the actual stories.

I know that while being ostensibly being surrealist fiction, Empty Glass is more of an existential drama. I know that while it bears the hallmarks of a Western, Coyote is more akin to folklore, and that Rorschach appears to be another angst-ridden teen story, it’s more of a psychological horror. I know that Tree Rings was originally written as a children’s story, but it grew up in editing; so I’ve no idea where it fits now. So when looking for a home for this new story which is Sci-Fi only in the sense that it utilizes a time machine to make the plot possible… Where do I put it?

After a while I found a few places, leaning toward publications which weren’t really specific about genre; matching grey to grey. But finding places to submit is easy compared to the next step, the cover letter.

What do you say in a cover letter? Most places say; tell us a little about yourself, and a little about your submission. That feels redundant to me. All of the stories are, in some sense, about me. Is that pretentious?

My gut says to write, “Just read it.” But my gut also craves Taco Bell on an all-to-regular basis and is not to be trusted.  All total, I’d say that by the middle-end of the month I’d written 2,500 to 3,000 words worth of various cover letters. Typically, the description of the story didn’t change between letters, but I tried to include a little bit of how I felt my work was relevant to their publication. I don’t know if that will matter, but it’s been a few weeks for some and so far no one has said, “No.”

Once done with the cover letters and finished with the submissions, I turned my attention to touching up and editing old material; the stuff here on this site (I haven’t posted any edits) with the intent to find homes for them as well.  A surprising number of publications don’t have any problem with submissions which have already been hosted elsewhere; so that was a cool discovery.

Day after day I spent my bus rides too, and from work with my red pen in hand drawing slash marks through things I’d worked really hard on in the past and the more red lines that I drew the more disheartened I became. Eventually, despite having lots of ideas for new material I had to set it aside and take a break.

All total I think I’ve spent more time on writing in the month of May than any month prior, even though the end result is that no new creative writing was completed. I did one blog post totaling about 1,300 words, the cover letters, some handwritten uncounted outlining for a few new stories, and a whole pile of red marks.

So, I didn’t make my 10,000 word goal for the month, but I’m hesitant to call it failure.

Supposedly, AWR will be getting a new competition going in the next few days and I’ll have some motivation to write for that. In the meantime, I’m taking a breather.

I did spot this today, though, while posting this blog entry.

Untitled

My story has been seen, and probably ignored, in South Africa! Thanks Google!
My ignorant ramblings could have offended someone half a world away. That’s exciting!

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