Your first rejection?

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Feature image from MANUSCRAPPED

By Jacob Henwood.

What changes after your first rejection?

Lots of stuff. It is harrowing. It is literally one of the hardest literary things you are ever going to experience. It is like eating carob, but it never ends.   Everything you ever submit ever again gets automatically rejected. Forever. You just get the one go.

No-one ever tells you that until it’s too late.

No.  It is not like eating carob at all. It’s fine. It’s better than fine. It’s really good!

There are lots of reasons why it is good: you can learn about your writing; you get to practice the submission process; and you get the chance to make it better.

I got some fantastic feedback from people who felt absolutely no obligation to make me feel better about myself and in all likelihood were not involved in my upbringing. Maybe they were; the process was anonymous.

The best part though was that the moment the submission went through a wall collapsed. Not a real one. Submitting stories does not compromise the structural integrity of buildings. Imagine if it did. That would be bad. Luckily, it was a metaphorical wall. I had never noticed it before, but when it was gone a lot of things started to make sense.

What I realised as I stood amongst the debris was that it really didn’t matter if I got rejected. Lots of writers have been rejected. That isn’t news. It doesn’t matter to me and my writing. It will change my writing, because everything should change my writing.

It doesn’t mean that the story I am trying to tell isn’t a story worth telling. It means that I haven’t conveyed that yet.  Perhaps I don’t have the skills, or the experience to do that yet. No biggie. I’ll keep going. I will learn, redraft, and submit again.  I will probably be rejected again. When that happens, I will keep going.

There is a question that you should ask yourself. Why do you write? I write because I love the process, and I love books, and I love telling stories. I cannot think of anything that I would rather do with my time. When I look at that story now, I can see very clearly that I gnawed at the story instead of polishing it. That is a good thing, because now I get to make it better. I get to go back to what I love doing, and make it tighter, and make it cleaner, and make it with the best words with which I am able. Words are the wizard’s bananas, and writing them is the complete opposite of eating carob.

Where did all the good time go?

by Jacob Henwood.

I’m not going to talk about how to write well. I don’t think I am the person to come to for that sort of thing. Not on account of my inability to string words together in a pleasing fashion, but because I’m yet  to present much evidence that it is something that I can do. If it’s what you’re looking for, there are lots of books on the subject by a great many people whose opinions on the matter are backed by the weight of this evidence.

Before quality though comes productivity. This is the first step. A blank page may hold infinite possibilities, but a full page holds the first step to not wasting them. I can talk about productivity. I have productively written for a number of years now. I can sit down and write a 2,000 to 5,000 word story outline in an hour. I do a lot of different types of writing, and I do it with both stealth and ease. If you’re looking for stealth, then you are going to need to invest in a quiet keyboard, or a pen. Pens are quiet. If you’re interested in ease, then keep reading.

Words aren’t always in the habit of being there when we want them. This isn’t really about the words though. It isn’t about writers block either. That’s just a name that we use. Despite all appearances, writing is like drawing, playing the cello, or anything else we need to train ourselves to do with ease. For the most part we tend to assume that however many years of school and university have prepared us for this, but think about the time we would put aside for 2,000 words, or 1,500. Where do we now find the time in our lives for 85,000 words? In reality you are more likely to need to find the time for whatever the actual number of words it is going to take you to write 85,000 good words. Words that carry with them everything that you need of them.

This isn’t something that I figured out. It is something I researched. It is something the authors that I respect discovered through necessity, because for them it was part of the trade. A skill that needed mastering in order that bills be paid. Tom Wolfe, Philip K. Dick, Agatha Christie, Edmond Hamilton, Ray Bradbury, Steven Moffet, and so many others relied on their ability to continue to write whenever it was needed of them.

My first step in understanding this process was the work of Philip K. Dick, whose prolific output and commitment to the concepts behind each of his works is, to my mind, without peer. Dick wrote when he was sleep deprived, discontent, depressed, detached, and, most importantly, when he made the time. Dick wrote a lot of material that he was not happy with (the majority of which was not published), but if you were to say that only 1 in 5 of Dick’s published stories is worth reading, that would still be 10 novels and 20 short stories.

Read more at United By Glue – Where did all the time go…