Thursday, August 19, 2010

Theraputic work

Another day, another rejection slip. This one from Asimov's (a form letter, of course, but hey, they're big name. So it's understandable). And then you get to thinking in the back of your head "So you wrote a book. Big deal. Everyone's done that, chump."

And you feel unprofessional. You feel like a slob. You think "how in the flaming HELL did they do it? King, Clancy, Grisham, Patterson - these guys are professionals. I want to be a professional!"

You know what makes me feel like a professional? Like I'm serious about my work? A highlighter.

A blue highlighter that I stole from a data entry job I worked at like three years ago. Here's what you do: take that highlighter and a copy of the Writer's Digest. Go to the literary agents section. Read about what kind of agents are out there. Highlight the ones that you think could represent you.

That's it. I think technically it's work - trying to further your career - but something about highlighting an agent (AGENT! Pros have agents!) is kind of fun. It's like wishful thinking that has an ultimate goal. You think of them calling and saying "Why hello, Mister Futch, we received your query letter and the outline of your project and would like to represent you."

Representation! Doesn't the word just make you salivate? Cant you see the line where it says 'Client's Signature'? By golly, doesn't it just make you all tingly?

Are you tingly? You should stop drinking. Seriously. You have a problem and need help.

So whenever the world gets you down, grab a highlighter and highlight the ever-loving SHIT out of something. A book, a manuscript, your boss's desk, the walls of the bathroom, your own body, your kid's face. Highlight and say proudly "I am a professional!"

I'm a professional! But... still, not a writer.

Wordslinger-117 out.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I feel dirty

I just wrote a flash fiction piece. I feel like I need a shower now. Don't get me wrong, I don't think people who write flash fiction are dirty or not writers (I'm not a writer, remember?) or anything. I just... it feels like I had a quicky. Little exposition, no world building, I didn't even name any characters! There were only two of them!

It's like I've taken all the stuff I'm good at and thrown it to the side and said 'FUCK this stuff, where's the dialogue and development?!'. I don't know if that's good, bad, or what. I'm just so confused right now.

Taking an hour to write a completely contained story that should be easily understood is like... I don't know, it's almost like cheating. Like using Cliff's Notes. But there wasn't anything more to the story: a guy is talking to a local grave digger who is more than meets the eye. And he doesn't transform into a robot. That's it, really. It's all dialogue, a bit of build up, and reveal.

Well. I guess now I'll let it stew, edit it, and see if anyone wants some flash fiction.

Wordslinger-117 out.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The waiting game

So, this is what happens when you're trying to submit stories to magazines and you've got no credits to your name.

1. Submit story to a publication (usually one at a time. They dont like it when you send it to them and somebody else. They're special.)
2. Wait a month.
3. Wait another month.
4. ???
5. Profit!
5a. Rejection!

It's agonizing waiting for that rejection (or maybe profit! you never know!). You're sitting there scratching at an itch to submit, but the itch doesn't go away. "It's okay," you tell yourself. "I've submitted a piece... they'll get back to me soon."

"NOOOO!" Your itch says. "Submit it again! To somebody else! At the SAME TIME! Consequences be DAMNED!"

And you fight it. And fight it. And then you get an email from somebody you submitted to and it says....

Dear Michael Futch,

"Thank you for sending your manuscript "Pinked Void," number 19818, to us here at Blahblahblahmagazine via the online submission manager.

We are sorry this particular manuscript was not selected for publication in Blahblahblahmagazine. We hope you will send us another soon, though. We could not publish Blahblahblahmagazine without the fine writing submitted to us. While we regret that the large number of submissions we receive makes it difficult for the editors to respond personally, we want to emphasize that an editor personally read your manuscript. Devoted reading is part of the Blahblahblah magazine editorial mission; it is also our own personal one."

A fucking FORM LETTER! GODTROHEORGMQERGOQW$%H RAAAAAGE. But they did read it. I think. That's what they say anyway. OR DID THEY?!

Well. That's the way it goes. I can submit it somewhere else now and rage again a couple months down the road. At least Asimovs has online submissions now (you Luddite bastards). Maybe someone else needs that, too... I'm LOOKING RIGHT AT YOU, F&SF MAGAZINE! YEAH, YOU SEE ME!

Wordslinger-117 out.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Dodged a bullet on that one.

So, going through some rejection slips, I noticed one where I sent in a story on impulse. I didn't read the magazine first. Shame on me, I know. But it turns out I should have read it for more than just to "get a feel for it".

I went and read a couple shorts on there. The first one I clicked on... well, it was sci-fi. But it was heavy handed, and I just could not get into it. No problem there, right? Just not what I like to read.

So I go to another one. The title was something about avocados. Written by some woman, forget the author's name. And I almost feel bad about trashing another writer's works, especially one who is, like me, submitting to short story magazines and online publications.

But holy shit. Let me give you a brief rundown. It's told in a first person narrative. It's about a woman (possibly the author) in a grocery store, looking through the avocados on display. And hey, look who strikes up a conversation with her, but actor and director Billy Bob Thorton.

I shit you not.

The story goes on to where her and Billy Bob throw a couple avocados at each other, and end up spilling to the ground like a bad '80s movie. You know, that moment where things get all serious and the two leads kiss. Well, she didn't kiss ol' Billy Bob. Instead she reaches out and caresses his face and tells him he's beautiful.


That's pretty much the whole thing, right there, minus the descriptive parts and the dialogue. I read that, immediately closed the window, and wrote on my submission-tracking Excel sheet: "Do not submit".

So this is possibly the one post you'll ever read where I celebrate the fact that I received a rejection notice. I consider it a victory, perhaps not by my own doing, but a victory nonetheless. Rejoice!

Wordslinger-117 out.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I feel bad for my keyboard

Sometimes I feel like I dont pay it enough attention. It's there and shouting "Hey, remember me? Remember all that shit you've got in your head? I can get it out for you." But then I look at it and say "Silly keyboard, if I do that, then I'll just obsess over it and want to get it perfect."

And that doesn't happen. You don't get things perfect, you get them to the point where you go "Alright, maybe..." and then you send it off for someone to read it and hopefully they think "Alright, maybe..." and we're back to square one of waiting for that reject slip.

Damn, that's pretty pessimistic, huh? A bit too George McFly. I just don't think I could take that kind of rejection.

But I do have an odd relationship with the keyboard. It wants me to use it, and when I use it, I beat the poor thing relentlessly. And then I saw what I beat out of it and beat it some more. And it never complains. I think it likes it.

The dirty thing.

Monday, July 5, 2010

To the editor: personalized rejections plx

So I've resubmitted to publications that had previously rejected one of my stories. I sent them new ones. Why? Well, for one, the story I sent in was kind of... an experimental piece. One big internal dialogue, really. But mainly it's because they read it and had something to say on it.

The rejection notice had a little something in there more than "We're going to pass on this one". One wrote me saying the character was very believable (score!), but it was mostly world building and exposition. Little action. And I agree; the story was just something I came up with while listening to Rocket Man on the radio. Another one told me that it fit too comfortably into the sci-fi genre, and their magazine is more of a subsection deal. Fair enough.

I read a few stories on one of them - Ideomancer - and thought "Yes. Yes, I can do this. This is good shit they've got up. My stuff belongs here. So I sent 'em another one I wrote. Dear Lord, let them read it and think the same thing.

So editors, keep the personalized notices coming. I'm going to feed on your recognition that I've written something like some kind of nerdy genre author vampire. I von to read your rejection.

Wordslinger-117 out.

Your lack of online submissions disturbs me...

So two of the most illustrious Sci-fi short story markets - Asimov's and Fantasy & Science Fiction - only accept submissions via snail mail. This cuts me deep. I would like to be published in these two circulations, but I have to print. And mail. And wait. I'm a child of the electronic age! I demand instant satisfaction!

Though it wont stop me from submitting. They're top notch pieces, and if it takes a little extra work for somebody to even submit a piece... well, cowboy up. Nothing worth having ever came easy.

The first thing I submitted was to F&SF, and it was rejected. A little slip of paper that said "I'm going to have to pass on this one. It just didn't work for me". A form letter, yes, and I paid for the postage to have that slip sent to me, sure. But dammitall, it had my name on it and the name of the story. It's hanging on the wall by a strip of tape, but one day it will be framed next to my first acceptance letter.

Wordslinger-117 out.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

We hold these truths to be self-evident...

Happy Independence Day everyone! Eat some barbeques, kill a Redcoat, and shed a tear for freedom.

On a serious note, I want to say thank you to all who serve. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, past and present, alive and dead. Stateside and overseas, you are and always have been the reason America is subject to no one but its people. I know you're just doing your job, and it's an overly used thing to thank the troops, but you'll take this thank you or you'll get on your face and knock out two five. Don't make me make you push.

So light the grills and the fuses. We're the only country who fought the English for our freedom and won. USA! USA! USA!

Wordslinger-117 out.

Tom can read?

It's the weirdest feeling, having a friend say they like what you wrote. Especially one of your guys, your homies, your brudders from another mudders. Case in point, my friend Tom. Tom is in the army. He's high speed, Rangeriffic, leads the way all the way. And I hear that he not only reads a lot, but liked what I wrote?

On the one hand, hey, alright. Thanks, man. On the other hand... Tom can read? You have to understand the relationship between us - us being all of my friends. We drink and make fun of each other. Constantly. "Dumbshit" is a term of endearment. A fun, memorable night should involve a) bleeding from the face, b) "Wow, did I really say that?" or c)bar tabs that we cant afford. Sometimes they're all interconnected.

So to not only have proof of something so nerdy as writing genre, but to have it read and then liked? Weird as hell. But it's a good weird.

Of course, it's criticism from a friend, which will always be good. I suppose it's biased, by in On Writing, King said something along the lines of "would you rather have some random asshole critique you first?" I suppose he is right.

Now I've just gotta get the damn thing published. Anyone want to take a risk on a newcomer, nothing under his belt and nothing to his name? Come on. It worked for JK Rowling. I think Clancy and Grisham were more or less the same way. I'll knock your damn socks off if you give me the chance.

Wordslinger-117 out.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

S for Sucks

So I heard about this awesome deal for the new Xbox 360 at Gamestop. Trade in your old one, get a hefty dose of credit to a new 360 S model. The one with the 250 gig hard drive and built in wi-fi. So today I call and see what's up.

Yes the deal is still on.

No they dont have any in stock.

No they wont be getting any that I can buy.

Yes they will get some more. By the end of the month. When the deal is over.

And nobody else has them in stock either. I still have a functioning 360, so it's hard to bitch too much. Still, when you can get a brand new console for about $125 bucks and it costs $125 to upgrade to the new features, it kind of makes your soul hurt.

Good times, right? I wonder what Microsoft has to say about this. Probably the same thing Nintendo had to say: "Wow. Didn't expect THIS much demand!"

Just thought I should share my agonizing, soul crushing pain with everyone else.

Wordslinger-117 out.

I'm not a writer, dammit!

Really, I'm not. Writers are those guys you see in coffee shops, wearing black turtle necks and writing on laptops. Okay, so maybe I own a black turtle neck. And maybe I am currently writing on a laptop.

But I write genre. Genre! Science fiction western! Post apocalyptic survival! Zombies! I'm not a writer. I'm just a guy who writes.

Does that make sense?

So far tonight, I've submitted three short stories to three different magazines and ezines. Mostly for peanuts. At this point, I'll take a letter saying "I like what you did, we'll publish it and you'll get nothing."

Nothing?! Yes, thank you very much, I would LOVE nothing!

So I'm starting this blog to recount my experiences as a twenty-something guy who just wants to write. Share my experiences: excitement and adventure at every turn! Low paying jobs! A girlfriend with a PhD (who is way smarter than I am)! Escaping New York! Okay, so only one of those is a downer. But they're exciting, yes?

If it helped keep that Julie and Julia lady sane, maybe it can do the same for me.

It's past 3:30 AM. I'm going to bed.

Wordslinger-117 out.