inasmuch as it concerns Selling My Soul:
"Psst! Wanna buy a story? Hot new manuscripts, exclusively yours to publish! First American, First Serial, E-rights and reprints! Get 'em while they're hot!"
projects proliferate perversely
- 100 wds. long
- 166 wds. long
- 425 wds. long
So I was scanning my list of favorite fiction markets, and it turns out Daily Science Fiction 1. only accepts pieces up to 1500 words long, disqualifying several pieces I'm looking to submit, but 2. does accept pieces as short as 100 words. Yay, drabble market! And it also turns out that they will consider flash-fiction series, which is to say, three or more short-shorts relating to a common theme. And I thought, "Perfect! I have this series of drabbles about talking animals in a post-human world. I'll send three of those!"
And I also thought, "They might need a little sprucing up before they go. But it shouldn't take long."
So. Turns out, wrong on two counts.
Count the first: I don't actually have three unpublished. I only have three, period, and SpeckLit took one of them. Not complaining about that, mind you. But it means I only have two unpublished, so I shall have to write another. Cool. Needn't be a drabble, either.
Count the second: In fact, probably best that it not be a drabble. Because the other two? Are not, currently, stories. They are not shaped like stories, not even as basic as the one in "Priesthood Has Its Privileges." They're more like... portraits. So I'm going to have to expand them.
That's what I spent this afternoon doing, when I really wanted to be diving into the whole Twine/Interactive Fiction thing.
And even then I'm not done. Because, even expanded, both of them have basically the same story: Animals muse upon the forgotten past, then the focus widens to reveal that, Lo! Humankind is extinct; humankind is the forgotten past. Look, variations on a theme require variation. More than just "This one's about pandas and that one's about a gull and a sea lion."
Why do things have to be so complicated?
*brb bemoaning the shortage of hours in the day*
this is my oasis of normality it is a nice oasis have a coconut
- 2,996 wds. long
- 101 wds. long
- 100 wds. long
Things are getting kind of unhinged out there. (Getting?) OK, more unhinged. Dramatically more unhinged. I'm not oblivious to this--I wish I had the luxury to be oblivious, but I don't think anyone has that luxury, not really. I've been keeping a browser tab open on the latest political open thread at Metafilter, refreshing it frequently, and dreading what I'll see but being grateful for the intelligent and bleakly humorous tenor of the conversation there.
For the most part, aside from the occasional outburst in the social mediaz, I've been restricting my reactions to carefully worded faxes to my Senators and Representatives (have you met Resistbot?). I'm... going to stick with that, actually. If I start commenting more, especially here on a blog dedicated specifically daily writing accountability, the writing will get squeezed out and my ability to resist usefully will wither under the blow-torch of perpetual outrage and I'll wither, too, just wither away into an exhausted, whimpering ball of despair.
I'm aware. I'm doing my part. But I'm also setting boundaries and patrolling them as best I can.
Sometimes it seems like the best act of resistance I can muster is to simply continue, day by day, to show up at the page, to submit stories for publication, to publish each Friday's fictionette--to be a small force for normality in the world, pushing forward, come what may. To keep doing the good work of... just being this person in the world.
To raise my little flag that says, "I'm still here. I'm still writing, I'm still skating, and the fuckers can't take that away from me."
So. Hello. We are writing now.
Today was a good day. Good like most of last week was good. This week has not been so good--the crash-and-burn tendency caught up with me Tuesday and bled over a bit into Wednesday--but last week was great and so was today. It would be nice to think I've gone from a "one day on, one day off" cycle to a "ten days on, one day off" cycle. It would be very nice for that to be a permanent change. I mean, heck, ten days on, one day off--that's above and beyond the mainstream standard, right? It's a longer work-week and a shorter weekend, is what it is.
A couple stories came back with rejection letters. I haven't yet decided where to send them next, but I did send one of my other existing drabbles out. I have a good handful of unpublished drabbles from the days when SpeckLit.com encouraged writers to submit ten at a time; since SpeckLit shut down and Drabblecast went on hiatus, it's hard to find paying markets for them. It's not as simple as sending them to places that welcome very short flash fiction. With markets that don't specifically solicit drabbles, there's the possibility that the editor doesn't really consider 100 words to be an actual story. On the other hand, if the market welcomes flash and doesn't specify a lower word-count limit, what have I got to lose by sending one in? I'm trying to thread the needle between shotgunning and self-rejection by targeting markets that seem more likely. The ones that have published, say, 300-word short fiction. Or that take prose poetry.
I could also take one of my drabbles and expand it. That's an option. As soon as the flash piece that's currently taking up my afternoon shift is done, I may just do that.
So. Onward. Just as though everything were normal.
no crashy-burny for THIS fictionette; also, how the sausage gets made
The bad news is, yes I got sick again. Or discovered I'm still sick, and that Thursday was just a day off from being sick because the universe is merciful or because it likes a good joke or maybe just because I took a 12-hour Sudafed at exactly the right time, I don't know. Today was gross sniffly coughing sneezing bleaaarrrrrgh.
The good news is, I got all my work done anyway. So there. Take that, sick! You ain't the boss of me!
Seriously, though, 100% not kidding, today was probably a more powerful rebuttal to Jerk Brain than it would have been had I felt perfectly fine. It's evidence that my ability to Be A Writer™ is not dependent on the stars being aligned just right. It is something that, in all but the most exceptionally terrible cases, is always within reach. That's really empowering.
- Sent "First Breath" off on a new quest for reprint publication
- Published this week's Friday Fictionette
- Set up a Scrivener project for converting an old draft into a new piece of flash fiction
And also freewriting, Morning Pages, this blog entry, Fictionette Artifact catch-up, yadda yadda yadda. ALL THE THINGS.
The Friday Fictionette for July 21 is "Falling Toward the Light" (for Patrons: full-length ebook, audiobook), which is mostly about the hazards of having a rift in the space-time continuum open up while excavating for new building construction in downtown Loveland. It's also partly, possibly, between the lines, about the effects of the above on economics and politics at the hyperlocal level.
When keeping up with Friday Fictionettes was threatening to take over my entire writing life, I was beginning to question their viability as a continuing side project. I was sick of having nothing writing-wise to blog about except them. But now that I'm more or less caught up and reliably on time with the weekly releases (excluding, of course, the Fictionette Artifacts--I am almost ready to mail the ones from March), and now that I'm regularly working on writing and selling short fiction again, I'm going to designate Fridays and only Fridays for blogging about Friday Fictionettes. To everyone's relief, mine especially.
And now that they've been reliably on time for a few weeks, I feel like I can speak to the weekly routine of making them happen. So! Here is my Process, in case you are wondering.
Saturday: Tomorrow's Saturday! Yay. It is the Saturday preceding the July Week 4 release. So I'll take a look at what I wrote during my freewriting sessions during the fourth week of June and choose one of those pieces to develop into the Friday Fictionette for July 28. I'll copy it from the Daily Writing scriv to the Friday Fictionettes scriv, then set up its folder with all the relevant templates. That's pretty much it. It's the weekend, and I just valiantly published the previous release, so I get to take it easy.
Sunday: NOTHING. I started giving myself this day off from even the most minimal writing tasks after I was forced to recognize I wasn't doing them. Something about starting the day with a three- or even six-hour roller derby practice. I've still been optimistic enough to set up writing dates with friends on Sunday afternoons, though.
Monday: Back to work. Once in a while, I'm fortunate enough to have produced a pretty good first draft during the original freewriting session. Most of the time, I'm not, and the output will be this rambling exploratory babble. So I'll spend Monday's fictionette-prep session just creating a very wordy outline. It's mostly about structure: Start here, then this happens, then that, then the other, then finally end with this.
Tuesday through Thursday: Write the dang thing. Using the outline as a sort of fill-in-the-blank, using the weave-and-dodge strategy to keep from getting stuck, trying not to waste any of my daily 25-minute fictionette-prep session on staring into space or doing too much internet research. This is the hard part but it's getting easier.
Friday: Publish the sucker. Come up with a title and an author's note if I haven't already. Ditto cover art. Sometimes I have all the foresight and I create the cover from my own photography or drawings, but usually I do a last minute search for public domain or creative commons attribution/share-alike commercial-OK licensed imagery. Export the Fictionette as PDF and epub, convert epub to mobi, record the audiobook and convert to mp3, and post to Patreon. If by this time it is not stupidly late o'clock, do the excerpts for Patreon, Wattpad, and my blog too; otherwise, do those over the weekend. (I try not to have to leave them for the weekend.) It sounds like a lot, but everything after creating the cover art is pretty mechanical by now. It only takes forever if I didn't finish the actual writing by Thursday.
And that is how the sausage gets made. The end.
See you tomorrow for the weekend YPP report! Or, if that's not relevant to your interests, skip it and I'll see you Monday.
that's it, no more crashy-burny for you (you don't even LIKE crashy-burny, what the hell is wrong with you)
- 2,996 wds. long
- 100 wds. long
So it turned out to be just 24-hour sinus drama. Went to bed sniffly and feeling crappy, woke up before seven o'clock still sniffly but with boundless energy and well-being. It's confusing as hell, but I'll take it.
I submitted three things to paying markets today, y'all. Three! That's five submissions this week! And one of the things I subimtted today was a brand new drabble (100-word short story) that I just wrote this afternoon. And I finished up the promised manuscript critiques, and I did all the required daily things, and I continue to catch up on the Fictionette Artifact backlog, and I cleaned the toilets. (They really needed it.)
And now I am back from scrimmage. It was a lovely scrimmage. We hit each other really hard, damn near ended in a tie score, and then we had a party with beer and cake. (Also, one of my teammates wore assless booty shorts. It was a themed scrimmage, so this makes sense. Trust me.)
Days like today scare me. Rather, what scares me is the prospect of the day after a day like today. Past recent experience says I'm due to crash and burn tomorrow. I always crash and burn the day after phenomenally productive and fulfilling days. That's what jerk brain says, anyway. I tell it, "Hey, jerk brain, you have selection bias like woah, you're ignoring all the non-crashy-burny days, there is no good reason that I should crash and burn--I mean, unless I get sick again or something, and it would be just like you, wouldn't it, to make me get sick again tomorrow just to prove your crappy naysaying point?"
I spend a lot of time talking to jerk brain. But you should hear the mouth it has. Someone has to stand up to it.
So the thing about drabbles is, I planned to put together a raft of eight or ten brand new ones and submit them to SpeckLit. That went rather well for me in the past. Only I haven't visitied them in ages. I visited them again after writing that one drabble today and trying to remember what kinds of things authors put in their author's notes there. Turns out, they closed their doors last September. Dang it.
But there is, as it happens, no shortage of online markets looking for very very short fiction. Not all of them will pay SFWA professional rates, but at one hundred words the difference between pro pay and token pay is more in the percentage than in the pocketbook. And I just wanted to submit something that was new. You know? Rather than just collect another handful of rejections for the stories I've been shipping around for the past few years?
So I found a place (which does pay pro rates, by the way), and I sent it, by the Gods.
This is me, feeling like Real Writer™ again. It is not my default feeling. I have to work at it. Tomorrow I will work at it some more. It'll be great. (You hear me, jerk brain? It'll be great!)
what is this fresh nonsense cut it out
Well, I wasn't to know my sinuses were going to attack me today, was I? *sigh* Had to call in sick today, more or less. Got about a half day's work in, brain moving at half-speed the whole time. Got the daily stuff done--and congratulated myself for that accordingly--but nothing beyond that. And did not make it to yoga+derby. Hopefully my body will stop with the dramatics and let me go to scrimmage tomorrow night.
(I honestly don't know if I'm sick or just suffering some weird sinusitis-like reaction to last night's Fieldburger with cheese. The throat irritation kicked in immediately after I finished eating; the post-nasal drip continued all night long and into today. I have no allergies that I know of, but bodies are weird. More research may be required.)
That aside, "daily stuff" properly includes submission procedures, even if it's been a while since I've treated it as such. Finally got over my embarrassment, logged the duplicate submission rejection, and sent "Caroline's Wake" out again. And again, since the place I sent it yesterday got the rejection right back to me today. (And yes, I triple checked my records; neither that place nor the place I sent it today have seen it before. NOT MAKING THAT MISTAKE AGAIN. I hope.)
So tomorrow with the remaining manuscript critique, popping something else into some magazine's electronic submissions system, and--maybe?--writing something entirely new, just to prove I can.
And scrimmage, I hope. And less with the sniffly, sore throat, post-nasal drip, high-on-Sudafed nonsense. Because that's what it is. NONSENSE. You hear me, body?!
this fictionette is very, very embarrassed
First, the Friday Fictionette for June 30 is out: "Strange Tidings" (ebook, audiobook) which begins with an observation about the gaps in the official Rider-Waite tarot interpretations and from there goes somewhere odd.
Secondly, I have just received the most embarrassing rejection letter in as long as I can remember. My face is red as we speak. Turns out, the place I just sent "Caroline's Wake," that sounded like the perfect home for it, and whose submission window just happened to open at the time I sent it... I had actually sent it there before. During a previous submission period. When I undoubtedly thought it would be just the perfect home for it.
The editors were really gracious about it. Apparently it was memorable--in a good way--so when it crossed their desks they recognized it immediately. They hope I will send them something new the next time they open for submissions.
I am very, very embarrassed. Since it is not good form to respond to rejection letters, even to say sorry (editors are busy, I am not adding to their caseload just to soothe my own feelings), I am exorcising the embarrassment demons here.
(I am sure that Very Famous and Successful Authors the world over have made just this mistake and been just as embarrassed about it. Someday, when I am a Very Famous and Successful Author, newer authors will read this blog post and say, "Oh, what a relief, even Very Famous and Successful Authors make that mistake too." See? This is a public service.)
one catch-up day equals several days moving forward into the kind of future that requires sunglasses
- 1,129 wds. long
It's catch-up day! The Friday Fictionette for April 21 is out at last, rejoicing in the title "In Your Lifetime" (Patron only links to ebook and audiobook; links for everybody to excerpt on Wattpad). It's a coming-of-age story--well, it's a coming-of-age scene, anyway--in which the legendary monsters are just the regular schmucks of the world, and the humans are the legendary monsters. One human, anyway. Nobody likes that guy. He's a jerk.
Meanwhile, the Fictionette Artifacts for January will hit the mail tomorrow. Finally. I have at last got to a point where I can just chip at that backlog bit by bit every day until we're all caught up, just in time to send out the Fictionette Artifacts for April. I'm using a delightfully parchment-like gray stationery for January, which was a great idea right up until I realized that the correction tape on my brand-new typewriter ribbon is white. Thankfully it's not quite as tacky-looking as I feared. (The surprise inside is not paid product placement, I swear. I'm just that excited to have fresh supplies of brand-new typewriter ribbon.)
I've logged all the submission acknowledgments and responses that were pending for pretty much a whole month. This puts me at the uncomfortable status of Slush Zero--I got nothing out on market at this time. But that's OK! Because today was a successful catch-up day, the rest of the week can be oriented more toward going forward. For instance: My writing group came through with some great feedback on "Caroline's Wake" that I think pinpointed where I was inadvertently diluting the characters' stakes, and I know how to fix it. Well, I've identified a fix I'm definitely implementing, anyway. On rereading it I may find other places to fine-tune things based on Sunday's discussion. I am utterly jazzed to get this done and send the story out all hopeful to its next date with fate!
I continue to experience angst over why this timesheet-and-checkbox thing isn't actually working. But today I have Taken Action. A small action. Small corrections are sometimes the best correction, in life as in roller derby. ANYWAY, I changed out the timesheet template to make it more generic, with a First Session given over to the gotta-dos and a Second Session for fiction and submissions. And I've got this idea that if I create tomorrow's template tonight, filling it out with tomorrow's task list before I go to bed, I'll be more likely to wake up on time ready and eager to Do All The Things. The key is in having those Things clearly identified. If I wake up feeling like the day is full of a Vague Yet Menacing Too-Muchness of Things, I'm liable to panic and flee back into the safety of REM sleep. And we can't be having with that, because...
That's it! No more trying to get stuff done after derby, not even "just a little bit." Come 6:00 PM, the work day is over. I want to come home from practice with nothing to do but relax, play, and put myself to bed in good order. Suiting thought to deed, or deed to thought, whichever order one says that in--I lined today up such that even my blogging would happen before practice tonight. And lo, it was done, it is being done, and it is good. It will be good. It'll be so good tonight around 10:00 PM. We are talking beer and post-derby dinner and self-indulgent soak in the tub and probably a couple hours of Puzzle Pirates. Yes, all at once. What do you think wireless keyboards and mice are for?
i guess that's what i am
What was I saying, last post? Can't do everything in a single day? Right, well, I've have several "single days" since then, and some of them I haven't managed to do anything in. I think the problem is, no matter how cheerfully I say things like, "It's cool! If I just do nothing but write all day then I'll get caught up!" ...I still exert sufficient pressure on myself to shut me down completely.
And I'm still not sleeping right. What the everlovin' eff, body?
(I'm working on that. Getting up closer to on time every day, avoiding afternoon naps, avoiding caffeine past 5 PM, installing f.lux in hopes of making nighttime computer sessions have less impact on my sleep cycle...)
I caught myself using the phrase "working writer" to describe myself recently. Well, I used the phrase; I caught myself experiencing the impulse to qualify it. Y'know. Disclaim it. Belittle myself. "Well, lately it's more like 'hardly working writer'..." I caught myself in time not to speak from that impulse, though, because speaking from that impulse does me no good. For one thing, if I belittle myself, it invites others to belittle me--not that they would, right, the people I was talking to are supportive people, but if I tell them I'm "hardly working" as a writer, why wouldn't they believe me? For another thing, why wouldn't I believe me? Every time I belittle myself, I add another grain of negativity to the huge, heavy pile I use to constantly put myself down.
But if instead of disclaiming it, I own that term, Working Writer, what happens? Well, maybe I just wake up one Thursday morning and say, "Yes. I'm a working writer. So let's get to work." And I do. I get up 'round seven, yeah, and I go to work at nine. (Or thereabouts. Still working on the sleep cycle thing, like I said.) And then I don't just devote the whole day to a heroic but ultimately doomed heave at the overdue stuff. No. I give that stuff a shove, yes, but not to the exclusion of doing the working writer things. Which is not to say that my Patreon experiment, the Friday Fictionettes, isn't part of my work, it is absolutely part of my day job, but--look, I got into this writing gig in the first place in order to sell fiction to paying publishers. And last week the very last story I had out on submission came back with a rejection letter. Now I have nothing out on submission. I should never have nothing out on submission. So I took a half hour or so away from toiling up Mt. Overdue so that I could...
- log that rejection in the Submission Grinder and on my personal database.
- send the rejected story to my writing group for help in fixing it (it's been getting personal rejections with consistent feedback across the board, so it really does need fixing before it goes out again).
- looked through my unpublished flash-length stories for a suitable candidate to submit to Fireside, who are open to flash fiction just for this week.
- read some flash fiction that Fireside has published recently to get an idea of which of mine might be a good fit.
In other words, submission procedures. Which I decided a long time ago needed to happen every day. Which is why I made a line for it in my timesheet template. It's in the "morning shift" section, which is where I done put all the daily "gotta-dos." For a reason.
So. With any luck I will have both last week's and this week's Friday Fictionette published tomorrow. But whether I do or don't, I will be making time for submission procedures. Because I am a Working Writer. Dammit.
when you get to the ends of things you might look back
Would you look at the size of those carrots? This is the last week of veggie shares from my CSA, and those are finale-sized carrots. I dug up the potatoes I'd planted this year in hopes of matching those carrots in a soup, but all I seem to have grown are potatoes the size of kidney beans. Large kidney beans, like you'd make red beans & rice with, but still. Even smaller than the potatoes you might see sold as "pee wees." Will nothing match those carrots for grandiosity? Perhaps I should go buy some parsnips. And a huuuuuuuge daikon radish.
Speaking of retrospectives (I kind of was, if you squint a little), I've reached the point in The Artist's Way where Julia Cameron tells you to reread your Morning Pages. I've been doing so, but slowly, because even only going back to the beginning of the year, even given that I've only been doing them on weekdays, that's a lot of pages and there are other things I'd like to do with my waking time after all. I'm taking along for the ride a brand new blank notebook that I bought in New Orleans at the Tremé Fall Festival in which I'm jotting down any insights which arise.
it's interesting, and sometimes disheartening, to see what problems remain an unchanged part of my life, and most of them my own doing, too, like "Mustn't get distracted and try to multitask other activities during Morning Pages" or "Mustn't let the day leak away through the cracks in the hours." It's refreshing to see, from what I wrote in anticipation of my very first All Stars practice as a just-made-it A/B crossover skater, that I no longer have the insecurities and self-esteem issues I had back then. (I still have insecurities in that area, but they're different insecurities.) It's surprising to see turns of phrase striking the page like sudden lightning with no indication I thought twice about them at the time I wrote them. ("Pin the blame on the donkey"--ouch. "Morning Pages as a devotional practice"--really? Wow, yes, really.) There's a dream back in early January that I don't think I paid much attention to the morning I jotted it down, even though I'd just come back from a family visit, undoubtedly because I was dealing with more dramatic emotional upheaval fresh from Christmas afternoon, still too blindsided by that to notice the chronic low-level background unease that the dream was pointing out. ("I have brand new arrows. Dad borrows them. He says he has to prep the arrows for use. He does this by breaking them about 6 inches behind the arrowhead. He doesn't understand why I'm angry, nor will he promise to stop doing it, so I have to hide the remaining unbroken arrows in the attic behind a loose board in the wall." SHIT THAT'S UNCOMFORTABLY REAL.)
I'm taking notes and hoping to learn from them. And flinching sometimes. *flinch* It's cool. It's just the contents of my head from ten months ago. No big deal. The contents of my head are often thorny.
In other news, "It's For You" came back last week with a rejection letter and went back out again today with fresh reserves of hope. This is its twelfth time out in the slush mines. I know very well that, in this business, twelve isn't that high of a number, nowhere near high enough to mean I should give up on a story, but it's sometimes hard to remember that. I just keep telling myself, "Remember how that other editor loved it and passed it on to the second round? This is a good story! Someone will buy it!" But what would really make me feel better is having a brand new story to send out to meet the nice people. Only one way to make that happen, though. *cracks knuckles, surveys revision queue*
this fictionette registered late for grad school
OK, so, I'm not sending "Late Registration" anywhere tonight. It needs more than a quick once-over in order for me to feel happy with it out there bearing my by-line. But! I did finally post the Friday Ficitonette for August 12. Revel in it! It's called "Dr. Green Ascends to the Nether World" and that is not a typo. It's about BEING A SCIENTIST even when that means breaking through barbed wire fences and climbing sheer cliffsides to FIGURE SHIT OUT.
Here's the thing I never count on when I say "I'll be able to get so much done Saturday afternoon!" Getting sick. It starts with post nasal drip and that itchy, raw spot high up at the back of the throat, and next think I know I'm in bed, sniffling and miserable, and then I'm in the bathroom pawing through the medicine supplies and saying things like "I don't care if the doctor says it'll raise my blood pressure--pseudoephedrine is necessary for me to function. What do you mean I only have five more of the 4-hour tablets left? And how did we wind up with an odd number? We better not have dropped one on the floor. This stuff is gold." Sudafed is a modern day miracle. It makes the difference between 1. flat in bed wishing for unconsciousness, and 2. upright at the desk getting things done.
But the things I get done are still only getting done slowly. And not with a heck of a lot of concentration. So after I got the Fictionette up today--which took most of the day because I couldn't wrangle enough concentration to work straight through it (and also because I took a brief walk to the drug store to get more pseudoephedrine, the 12-hour kind this time)--I kept getting distracted by stuff rather than moving on to the short story. Besides, I really doubt I'd have any better chance of getting it ready had I started at 6 PM as opposed to 10 PM.
My initial thought was, "It's an anthology that pays only token rates. I can send it something from the college file. I mean, I'll need to polish off the obvious infelicities and maybe update some references, give the main character a cell phone, that kind of thing..." Then I settled down to work on it, and I had a second thought. "I don't care how little the market pays. It's going to have my name on it! It had better be perfect." And, well, maybe perfect is the wrong word, but... I have standards. And it was going to take more than just a handful of hours to bring this old story up to those standards.
On the other hand, hearing about the anthology did get me to dig this story up and reread it. And, having read it, I've decided I really do want to rehabilitate it and get it into the submissions cycle. It's a good little story. It's got characters I'd like to reacquaint myself with. I mean, hell, back in the day I had the idea of doing a series of related stories starring these characters. It's good to be reminded of these old goals that once fell by the wayside. I can pick them back up, brush the dust off, and breathe a little life back into them.
So even though I didn't end up submitting to the anthology I had in mind, a great deal of good came out of considering submitting to it. Neat.