March 2013


I recently received another rejection — three, now, for the same story — but this time, instead of a form rejection email or letter I actually got feedback from the magazine, which was a wonderful thing!  Not only did I agree with the criticism — and just as importantly, I think, the criticism is something I can remedy with only a little work and rethinking — but it also included some praise for elements of the story I tried hard to get right, and it was clear from the feedback that the responder read through the entire story.  That was a particularly pleasant thought, as until this point I had visions of people looking at the first page or two and dismissing the whole story out of hand before getting any further in.

It’s one of two rejections I’ve received from magazines or publishers with comments; once for the forgotten novel whose lead character’s name adorns this blog, and once for this short story.  And on both occasions, the comments have been encouraging.  So although it’s a rejection, it’s really put me in a good mood this morning.

Sick days suck.  Days when I’m sick, or days when my wife’s sick — they both blow mighty chunks that would make the many Gods proud.  And as far as writing goes, the stickiest, stinkiest chunk of all is that I feel pretty blah, low on energy, low on inspiration.  Given my ongoing commitment to try and work on my writing every single day, it presents a problem; if I pick up a project that I care about, something that I genuinely want to bring to a satisfying conclusion, then there’s a very real risk that my writing will plummet down hard into turdsville and deliver something that would best be deposited in the Bog of Eternal Stench.

See that?  That's your writing, that is.

See that? That’s your writing, that is.

Today is a sick day.  But today, I find that I have a perfect task for days like this — editing.  Editing is not much fun at the best of times, but what it doesn’t need (or at least, what it doesn’t need as much of) is inspiration and fresh ideas, namely the kinds of things that my sick-day brain seems loath to provide.

This doesn’t always hold true.  Sometimes, when I’m sick or miserable or in other states of emotional funk, I can channel it directly into my writing either in reflection or opposition of that emotional state.  The emotions can drive a different way of thinking, prompting my brain to ask different questions than it might otherwise, and in that process give me different answers that either take a story in a new direction, or reveal entirely new stories to be written.  But in a state of Blah, my brain doesn’t want to answer questions at all.  Not the interesting kind, anyway.

Fortunately, it does seem willing to be asked “does this sentence work”, “did you forget anything obvious”, “do his actions actually make sense” and the other kinds of questions that are useful during editing.  And editing seems to be able to warm my brain up a bit, so that by the time I’m done, I may even be ready to tackle something a little bit more interesting.  Today, should it strike me, I have a path lined up towards a small light horror tale I began writing; the idea is still fresh in my head, and I’d like to pursue it.

However, editing first.  And that’s probably not a bad thing; editing is a task I hate, as I enjoy creating more than correcting.  I can be perfectionistic, but I lack the patience to achieve perfection, which can make for a frustrating conflict.  Today, however, editing is on my table, and I’m already actually enjoying it.