A Week of Writing: 5/6/19 to 5/12/19

One more week of writerly endeavors.

Words to Write By

The quote this week comes from Robert Hass.

“It’s hell writing and it’s hell not writing. The only tolerable state is having just written.”

– Robert Hass

This one sounds severe; I know. That said, I do feel like this a fair amount of the time. When I’m writing, it’s often an exercise of sheer will to keep writing, keep putting those words on the page no matter how much self-doubt and fear eat away at my resolve. It’s so easy to quit, to say “I’ll write tomorrow or the next day,” than it is to push past your own bullshit and get the work done. Is it hell? Maybe not quite that bad, but it’s often challenging. Now, not writing carries it’s own price. It’s called guilt. If I don’t work on the novel or a short story or whatever for a day or two, that guilt creeps in and can be just as destructive as fear and self-doubt. Finally, the best state of mind is having written, the golden panacea for all writing woes. When I complete a first draft or send that final revision to my editor or agent, that feeling of accomplishment is so grand it makes all the other shit fade into the background for a while. So, yes, this quote is tough, and it may not be that way for all writers, but for many, myself included, it’s can often be the reality.

The Novel

I made excellent progress last week. I finished the last bit of completely new material I needed to add (about three thousand words) and then pieced the first act back together. I was expecting a wild mismatch of tone and style and plot points that would require hours more revision, but, as these things often go, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought. In fact, the first act is pretty cohesive and now the pacing is better. I’ll need to do some minor tweaks to match everything up, but it’s not that impossible task I feared. That feeling of starting downhill after a steep climb is definitely there. That feels pretty good.

Short Stories

Big fat goose egg of a submission week.

  • Submissions Sent: 0
  • Rejections: 0
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist: 1

Yep, zero submissions last week. Hell, I didn’t even get a rejection. The only thing of note was a further consideration letter for a story that has really been around the block (to the tune of like fifteen rejections). I’m crossing my fingers it’s found it’s forever home at last.

The Blog

Not only did I send no submissions last week, I barely blogged too.

5/7/19: A Week of Writing: 4/29/19 to 5/5/19

The usual weekly writing update.

Goals

The novel revision is on hold for a bit as I turn my attention to the next Privateer Press novella I’m contracted to write. I’ve already got an approved outline, and I’ll knock out the first draft this week and next. Beyond that, I’ve got some new stories near completion, so it would be great to get those done and get three or four submissions out this week.


That was my week. How was yours?

A Week of Writing: 4/29/19 to 5/5/19

A day late, but here’s another week of writing wins and woes.

Words to Write By

The quote this week comes from Ernest Hemingway.

“Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.”

– Ernest Hemingway

I’m featuring this quote not because I think it’s how everyone should write, but because it’s how I tend to approach writing. Hemingway is famous for spare, unadorned prose, and I tend to write in a similar fashion (note, I am not making any kind of qualitative comparison between my own writing and Hemingway’s). I certainly look at my prose as a means to and end rather than anything approaching the end product itself. What does that mean, though? Generally, it means I don’t spend a lot of time describing people, places, and things; I rely heavily on dialog to express plot points and develop characters; and I weed out passive voice, most adverbs, and try not to get too complex with my sentence structure. If I do it right, I end up with lean, fast-paced prose that conveys a story efficiently and is, hopefully, compelling. So, why do I write this way? Simple. It’s a style that tends to highlight things I’m good at, like action and dialog, and downplays things I’m not so good at, like truly stylish prose and expansive descriptions. Once more, this is not the best way to write (there’s no such thing), but it’s how I write. Looking at my prose like architecture, as Hemingway suggests, has helped me do what all authors must–finish stories and novels.

The Novel

I was out for a few days last week for a badly needed vacation, but I did manage to get a fair amount done on the current revision of Late Risers. I’m confident things will speed up once I get out of the first act where the bulk of the heavy revisions are taking place. This week, I’m working on the last bit of completely new material, and my goal is to finish that, integrate it into the manuscript, and get beyond the halfway point in the revision.

Short Stories

Finally, a respectable submission week.

  • Submissions Sent: 4
  • Rejections: 1
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist: 0

I got 4 submissions out last week. That’s solid, and it’s a good start to May. That gives me 39 for the year and puts me back on track for 100 for 2019. I’d like to end up somewhere around 10 to 12 submissions for the month.

The Blog

Three blog posts last week.

4/29/19: A Week of Writing: 4/22/19 to 4/28/19

The usual weekly writing update.

5/1/19: Submission Protocol: For the Record

In this post I discuss why it’s important to keep detailed records of all your submissions.

5/3/19: Submission Statement: April 2019

A detailed account of my submission endeavors for the month of April.

Goals

Keep revising the novel and chugging toward that finish line. As usual, I’d like a side dish of short story submissions to go with my revision main course.


That was my week. How was yours?

A Week of Writing: 4/15/19 to 4/21/19

Another week in the books. Here’s how I did.

Words to Write By

The quote this week is another of Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing.

Never open a book with weather.

If it’s only to create atmosphere, and not a character’s reaction to the weather, you don’t want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people.

– Elmore Leonard

I think Leonard meant this literally, in that it’s an old cliche best avoided, but I think there’s something else to be gleaned here from “The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people.” What I get from that is, basically, open the book (or story) with characters doing and experiencing things rather than static descriptions. Like all of Leonard’s rules, these are useful guides for writing in a particular style, and may not be a perfect fit for everyone. They work for me, though, and I tend to use his rules as a kind of checklist when I’m reviewing my manuscript. In fact, the original opening to my novel was a little, uh, weathery, so I revised it and opened with characters doing stuff important to the plot. The new opening is one I hope prompts readers to ask: Who are these people? Why are they doing these things? More than that, I hope it prompts folks to read further in search of the answers to those questions.

The Novel

I continue to make good progress on revisions with the novel. Its going slower than I’d like, but I feel like the changes are good. Last week I added a lot of new material, made adjustments immediately downstream for that new material, and plotted out where further changes would need to be made. This week, I’m adding more new stuff, cutting some of the deadwood, and, again, making changes to existing chapters to fit with the new stuff. The main thrust is that I had a very talky novel, and while some of that talking was interesting and important and will remain, it needed more “people doing stuff,” especially in the first act. At this point, I’m gonna stop setting deadlines for this revision and default to a simple “soon.”

Short Stories

After getting back on track in the weeks prior, I’ve derailed this week.

  • Submissions Sent: 0
  • Rejections: 1
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist: 0

Yeah, not great. My focus has been on the novel, and I think that’s where it needs to be for the moment. I’ve got stories ready to submit, and I might send out a few this week, but if I don’t, I’ll catch up next month.

The Blog

Only one blog post last week, but I got more planned for this week.

4/15/19: Weeks of Writing: 3/24/19 to 4/14/19

A big catch-up post of the past three weeks of writing and submissions.

Goals

The novel is priority and will command the bulk of my writing time. Though I’ll try to get some short story submissions out, I won’t beat myself up if I don’t.


And that was my week. How was yours?

Weeks of Writing: 3/25/19 to 4/14/19

Well, I fell behind on these again, so here’s a three-week catch-up of the weeks that were.

Words to Write By

The quote this week comes from Stephen King

“The writer must have a good imagination to begin with, but the imagination has to be muscular, which means it must be exercised in a disciplined way, day in and day out, by writing, failing, succeeding and revising.”

– Stephen King

I’m kind of a fitness nerd, so likening the imagination (and the writing process) to a muscle that must be exercised on a regular basis make a lot of sense to me. Like working out, it’s something you have to do even when it’s the last fucking thing you want to do. If you want that literary muscle to get stronger, you have to use it, and though the first thing King lists, writing, can be hard enough, it’s those other things, especially the failing and revising, that really stimulate literary growth for me. As I continue to revise my novel, I’m definitely learning, getting better, and next time I’ll be stronger and faster because of it.

The Novel

Well, my goal for finishing the revision of Late Risers by mid-month was a little optimistic, but the extra time I took was mostly planning and additional outlining, and that’s paying dividends now. I’m in the thick of the revision, and I like where things are going. The story feels stronger, more cohesive, and the changes and additions I’ve made are leading me to some very interesting and, I hope, compelling places. In short, I feel good about how the novel is shaping up, and even though my writer brain is screaming at me not to trust this feeling, I’m gonna run with it and hope it gets me through this round of revisions.

Short Stories

What’s below accounts for roughly three weeks of submissions, and I’d say I’m back on track for the most part.

  • Submissions Sent: 10
  • Rejections: 8
  • Acceptances: 2
  • Publications: 1
  • Shortlist: 0

So, those 10 submissions put me at 34 for the year (6 in April). That puts me on pace for around 120 submissions in 2019. I need to get out three or four more in April to stay on target, but that shouldn’t be difficult. A fair amount of rejections in these past three weeks, and a few of them were heart-breakers, but the acceptances and a publication softened the blow somewhat.

The Blog

Here are the blog highlights for the last three weeks.

3/27/19: Submission Top Ten: Shortest Waits

This is a list of my quickest rejections and acceptances, including what I consider an unbreakable record.

4/1/19: A Month of Microfiction: March 2019

Just what it says on the tin. This is all the Twitter microfiction I wrote last month.

4/8/19: Micromanagement: 4 Benefits of Writing Tiny

In this post I explore some of the benefits of writing microfiction.

Goals

I’d like to finish the revision of Late Risers by the end of the month, but if it takes a bit longer, that’s okay too.

Publications

One publication over the last three weeks. I took 3rd place in The Arcanist’s Magical Story contest, and you can read my entry, “Paint-Eater,” by clicking the link below.

“Paint-Eater”

Published by The Arcanist (free to read)


How was your writing week(s)? Tell me about it in the comments.

A Week of Writing: 3/18/19 to 3/24/19

Back on track with the weekly writing updates. Here’s the week that was.

Words to Write By

The quote this week comes from the incomparable Ray Bradbury

“You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.”

– Ray Bradbury

I touched on this a bit last week, but I think it’s worth talking about again. Obviously, if you want to make it as a writer (at any level), you have to learn to accept rejection. That’s a given, but what might Mr. Bradbury mean by “rejecting acceptance?” I think what he’s not saying is don’t enjoy acceptance or success. Those little (or even big) victories are important to celebrate (though, admittedly, I suck at it). What I take away from this quote is you can’t rest on your laurels or believe an acceptance, even to a prestigious market, means you no longer need to work on your craft. I think it’s about an attitude of stopping for a moment to revel in success, but always with a mind to what’s next? What can I improve? How can I get better?

The Novel

I’ve finished with my chapter summary spreadsheet, and it has been an enlightening process. I was really able to pinpoint where I need to do the most work and how best to incorporate my agent’s feedback. This week I’m going to plot out the new material, add it into the spreadsheet, make notes of changes it’ll create downstream, and then start writing. I think my mid-April goal is still a possibility, but I don’t want to rush the process. I’d rather take a bit longer and do it right than give in to the urge to finish, finish, FINISH! 🙂

Short Stories

Not exactly burning it up this week.

  • Submissions Sent: 1
  • Rejections: 0
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist: 0

Yep, just one submission, but it’s a story I’ve been working on and revising for–I shit you not–seven years. So getting it to the point where it’s ready for submission felt like a victory. Still time in March for me to send a few more submissions and hit my numbers toward the goal of 100 submissions.

The Blog

Three blog posts last week.

3/18/19: Weeks of Writing: 2/25/19 to 3/17/19

Catching up on the weeks I missed.

3/20/19: Why I’m Not Writing: Procrastination

This post deals with the ever-present bane of deadlines and finished manuscripts: procrastination.

3/22/19: Submission Top Ten: Longest Waits

In this post I took a look at the longest I’ve had to wait for a response to a submission and how it turned out.

Goals

Broken record time: continue with revisions to Late Risers and send out more short stories.

Very Short Stories

Had a pretty good crop of microfiction last week. Here are the top three, in my humble opinion.

March 20th – Prompt: Pseudonym

He does his job under a pseudonym. Sometimes he goes by cancer, or stroke, or heart attack; other times he’s car accident, killed in action, or simply victim. No matter what he calls himself today, his true name is writ large and bold across each of our frail bodies.

March 21st – Prompt: Magnify

A demon walked into Lucifer’s office with an idea.
“I’ve invented a way to magnify human evil so it’s easier for them to be terrible to each other,” the demon said.
“Wonderful! What’s it called?”
“That’s the best part. It sounds harmless. I call it ‘social media.'”

March 23rd – Prompt: Assassins (theme not word)

He began his career with a gun. When it got too easy, he used a knife. After that, he just strangled his hits, and we thought we’d seen the pinnacle of the hitman’s art. Then they found Jimmy Moretti, eyes wide, mouth open, not a mark on him, literally scared to death.


How was your writing week? Tell me about it in the comments.

Weeks of Writing: 2/25/19 to 3/17/19

Well, as you can see, I fell a bit behind with these weekly updates, so I’m just gonna go ahead and get caught up all at once. 🙂

Words to Write By

The quote this week comes from science-fiction and fantasy novelist Fred Saberhagen

“I had immediate success in the sense that I sold something right off the bat. I thought it was going to be a piece of cake and it really wasn’t. I have drawers full of—or I did have—drawers full of rejection slips.”

–Fred Saberhagen

I think this an interesting quote about rejection because it highlights something important. Success does not (necessarily) put an end to rejection. Sure, it might change form, but rejection is still probably a part of a writer’s life despite all the accolades they may acquire. I’ve fallen prey to this misconception myself (on a vastly smaller scale than Fred Saberhagen, of course). When I made my first pro sale, I thought, “Okay, I’ve passed that hurdle. Things are gonna get easier now.” Well, four years and a couple hundred rejections later, I’m still waiting for it to get easier. I don’t mean to be a downer here, and things have gotten easier in the sense that I have more understanding of the process, the industry, and what to expect from it. I treasure my successes, try to revel in them, and most of all, let them serve as a buffer between me and the (still) inevitable rejections to come.

The Novel

Well, I’m back on the revision wagon for my novel Late Risers. Like I mentioned in a previous update, I’m trying to be a lot more organized and surgical with my revisions this time, and I’m taking pains to incorporate my agent’s feedback in the smartest and most efficient way. Currently, I’m reading through the book, summarizing each chapter in a spreadsheet, and making note of where I need to make the big changes (which is primarily adding material). Essentially, I have a flow chart that will help me decide where the changes and new material need to go AND how they will affect later chapters. Although there’s more preparation with this method, I think it’ll make the actual revision easier and more effective.

Short Stories

I’ve been a bit more active with short stories lately.

  • Submissions Sent: 7
  • Rejections: 3
  • Acceptances: 1
  • Publications: 2
  • Shortlist: 0

This looks more impressive than it is since it covers three weeks instead of just one. Still, I’m up to 23 submissions for the year, which is a little off my pace for a goal of 100. I need to send 4 more in March to catch up, essentially, and I don’t think that’ll be an issue. The acceptance is a fun one in that it’s my first microfiction submission and acceptance.

The Blog

Six blog posts over the last few weeks, but I’ll just highlight the important ones.

3/6/19: 300 Rejections or THIS. IS. NOT FOR US!

In this post I discuss reaching the milestone of 300 rejections and what it means to me.

3/8/19: Charting the Rejection Progression

This post deals with looking at the types of rejections you’re receiving from a publisher and if they indicate any progress toward an acceptance.

3/14/19: The Rejectomantic Arts: Reading the Wait

Is there any merit to using rejectomancy on other parts of the submissions process? This posts seeks to answer that question.

Goals

It’s pretty much all revisions, all the time here, but I’d like to get a few more short stories out as well. I’d really love it if I could turn the revised novel over to my agent by mid-April, and I think that’s doable.

Very Short Stories

As I mentioned in my last update, I’ve been writing microfiction on Twitter under the #vss365 hashtag. I started on February 23rd, and I haven’t missed a day. It’s been a blast, and one of those little Twitter scribbles became my first microfiction submission and acceptance. Below are three of my favorites I’ve written in the past weeks and the ones that seemed to resonate with folks the most (based on Twitter impressions, likes, and retweets). If you’d like to read the microfiction in real time, just follow me on Twitter @Aeryn_Rudel.

March 2nd – Prompt: Listen

I don’t watch Lucky work. It creeps me out. My job is talking, his is making people receptive to talking. He comes out of the garage, wiping blood from his knuckles, that weird satisfied look on his face.

“You’re up.”

“Can he still talk?”

Lucky shrugs. “He can listen.”

March 4th – Prompt: Improvise

The apocalypse taught me to improvise, to use brains and instincts I never knew I had. Every tin can is a way to collect rain water, every rusted-out old car potential shelter, and every person I meet . . .

Well, let’s just say I can “improvise” the taste of chicken.

March 16th – Prompt: Question

When death came for me, I refused to go. So it asked me a question. “When should I return?” Like a fool, I said never. That was a long, long time ago, and now I spend the endless stretch of years asking my own question. “Where is death?” I’ve yet to get an answer.

Publications

Two publications over the last few weeks. The first was a microfiction piece called “Treed” with 50-Word Stories. The second was a flash horror piece called “Far Shores and Ancient Graves” with NewMyths. You can read both by following the links below.

“Treed”

Published by 50-Word Stories (free to read)

“Far Shores and Ancient Graves”

Published by NewMyths (free to read)


How was your writing week(s)? Tell me about it in the comments.

A Week of Writing: 2/18/19 to 2/24/19

Another week in the trenches, and other week of submissions, rejections, and miscellaneous literary endeavors.

Words to Write By

This week’s quotes comes from, uh, *checks notes* Wayne Gretzky?

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

– Wayne Gretzky

This is a quote from the greatest hockey player to put on skates (I know that, and I’m not even a hockey fan), but, damn, does it apply to just about everything, including writing. I send out a lot of submissions–one-hundred and twenty last year–and those are, well, shots I’m taking. They don’t all score, of course, but each time I send a submission I have a chance of acceptance. If I don’t submit, I have zero chance. The writing and submission gig can be a tough one. Rejections are as common as weeds, and some of them have thorns. They WILL get you down, and that’s okay, but you still gotta take those shots. Just ask Wayne Gretzky. His career shooting percentage was 17.6%, so even he missed a few, and, hey, they still call him The Great One.

The Novel

My next revisions of Late Risers is on hold while I finish a novella for Privateer Press. I wrote 8,000 words of it last week, and I’ll bust out another 8,000 to 10,000 this week.

Short Stories

It doesn’t get much slower than this, folks.

  • Submissions Sent: 0
  • Rejections: 1
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist: 0

Yep, no submissions and a single rejection last week. I’m not exactly setting the world on fire in February. I did send a submission yesterday, and I’ll send a few more in the next day or so. That’ll put me up to 10 for the month, which keeps me on pace for 100 submissions for the year.

The Blog

Two blog posts last week.

2/20/19: A Week of Writing: 2/11/18 to 2/17/18

The usual weekly writing update.

2/22/19: The Rejection Archives: Rejection #84 (Personal)

Another entry into my Rejection Archives series. This one covers a personal rejection with excellent feedback.

Goals

I’ll finish up the first draft of my novella for Privateer Press this week, and then I’d like to get some short story submission out.

Very Short Stories

So, I’ve started writing microfiction on a daily basis on Twitter under the prompted hashtag #vss365. It’s a great exercise trying to fit a story into 280 characters and a hell of a lot of fun. I’m gonna start rounding up the weekly crop of scribbles on these updates. If you want to get these tiny tales in real time, follow me on Twitter @Aeryn_Rudel.

February 23rd – Prompt: Lame

They call me a leg breaker, but that ain’t right. Bones hurt, but soft tissue remembers. A guy hears that meaty pop when I shred his ACL, and he knows he’s gonna hobble like a lame horse forever. If that don’t remind him what he’s done wrong, he’s always got another leg.

February 23rd – Prompt: Humble

The men who come for me with crosses and holy books are sinners in pride, Daddy says. He hurts them, and I’m always hungry after. I know it’s wrong to waste the Lord’s bounty, and Daddy makes what he calls humble pie. It’s warm and red and just what a growing girl needs.


How was your writing week? Tell me about it in the comments.