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Anybody who’s been in this game long enough is used to rejection. Constant, merciless rejection. You do get used to it, and I know quite  few writers who claim rejections don’t even sting them a little anymore, simply because–why? It’s just another of many. Thicken that skin!

But while I’ve gotten significantly more comfortable with rejection, I still feel that slight gut-drop whenever a “no” comes to my inbox. Especially a form no. UGH. Form no’s. I’ve had a couple tastes of personalized no’s and let me tell you: they’re sweeter. Just, so, so much tastier. I’ve gotten hooked on them, but there’s never any guarantee of catching one.

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Phew! Dodged *that* submission!

Got a rejection yesterday, which hit me harder than I expected. I knew the market was a long shot. I knew this one probably wouldn’t fit there. I don’t know what it was, really. Maybe it’s just because it’s the first submission I’ve sent out in a while, or because I still feel really confident the story’s a good one. I can only liken it to a fencing duel in which you’re all fired up and ready to kick the other guy’s butt, and in the very first movement, he nicks your cheek, just to show you he can. It’s not a bad injury, not even a deep cut, but somehow it shakes your confidence ever so slightly. That microscopic ding in the paint of the new car. The slightly bent cover on the brand new book you just unpackaged. A gnat’s bite, really, but somehow you feel it more than you should.

At least at this point, I’m perfectly aware that I can’t let it get to me too much. Back when I was a really, really young newbie, rejections used to hit me like a sucker punch to the kidneys. I’d be crushed, and feel like I needed to do something big to take the sting away. Once upon a time, I’d buy myself a chocolate bar, but these days, I get so many rejections, so often, when I’m submitting, that I just can’t spend that kind of cash.

My new routine is fairly simple. I can have one spoonful of Fluff or I can sulk, but I can’t do both. And then I move on, get the story out again, and work on the next thing, because seriously, that’s all there ever is. And someday, I hope to toughen up enough to become one of those authors who don’t flinch at rejection.

(Though acceptances are nice, too… XD)

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Quiet, dignity, and grace…

It’s a dark morning. The skies are clouded over, there’s a breeze too light to hear rustling through the leaves, and there’s a heavy, humid stillness over the world. It would feel like a foreboding omen, except I’ve looked at the weather, and there’s no sign of a heat-breaking thunderstorm on the horizon, so it’s just quiet.

I’m obsessing over the story I submitted Sunday night (Woo! Submission!). I’m obsessed with the awesome, amazing, satisfying feeling of having even gotten something submitted in August. It’s been so long since I got something fresh out, and it feels SO GOOD. I need to figure out a way to get more out with some regularity, because I need this just to feel like a “real” writer. And then I’m also obsessing, because the place I sent it to has online tracking, and GOOD GRIEF I should not look at that kind of thing. Yesterday, I had to put a moratorium on checking it until 9PM. Today, I think I’m going to have to do the same thing. Noon and 9PM, if the rejection hasn’t come in yet. (But the place–if you can guess–is pretty damn fast about their turnaround, so it very well could come between now and then, since it’s currently Under Review.)

I’m finishing up my banana/berry/spinach smoothie and have Bug set up with his morning Winnie the Pooh (my parents–bless them!–recorded and saved almost every episode of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh from my childhood, and recently my dad digitized them), so I can get all my morning chores done. Writing comes later. If I get all my tidying/readying things done early, then the rest of the day is a lot more relaxed and flexible (and staying on top of the dishes allows me to write a bit in the early evenings). Since it doesn’t look like rain, maybe we’ll go to the park before it gets too sunny and scorching. Another hot day, up in the mid-to-high eighties, with high humidity.

Today, I buckle down and start the hard rewrite of “Any Day But Today.” I’m still feeling out the finale, trying to figure out if it’s the finale I want, or if it’s just a fall-back. Puzzling on themes and substory, too. We’ll see. I’m hoping retyping it makes some of the possible forks in the road a bit clearer to see and choose between. We’ll see how that goes…

Over and out!

It’s that time again, and thankfully, things *have* started to get a little better this week. The short story I *wanted* to edit, of course, is still languishing in the “I don’t wannas” but I did go over it a bit, pinned down a better climax, cut a uselessly long ending, and now it’s just a matter of retyping from scratch and weaving the changes in as organically as possible. But I also got the aloud read-through done on “Circles,” which I think may be very close to ready to go (maybe by Wednesday! EEEEE!)

This week, I’m working on: Finishing “Circles” for submission by EoD Wednesday. It’s practically ready. A few minor tweaks, a little clipping here and there, and honestly, I feel fairly confident that it’s solidly competitive. Once that’s done, then at least start the retype on the superhero lady business story. XD HA! Lady business. Ok, but seriously, I need that one wrapped pretty soon, so I’ve got to buckle down on it.

What’s inspiring me this week?: Health. Me and the Little Guy got sick as dogs Tuesday-Thursday, and it’s been enlightening how much smoother life normally is. Regular sleeping hours, time in the evening to read (and write) and relax like an adult, how good we normally feel without heads stuffed with mucus or the Little Guy’s puke on our clothes. SO MUCH BETTER. So I think that’s given me a little wind beneath my wings (that, and the total lack of focus for the past week because YUCK.)

I also just started reading Why Call Them Back From Heaven by Clifford D. Simak, which is 1960s Sci-Fi-licious. There are *so many* things in this book that would be totally frowned upon by today’s standards (“As you know, Miles…” and the “Oh, we have everything related to the issue of immortality, faster-than-light travel, terraforming, food consumption fixed, but we just don’t have enough LAND on Earth for everybody (so we’re going to send people back in time to colonize THAT land)!”–seriously, you can molecularly simulate as much food as anyone will ever need, and you *can’t* figure out a basic housing problem? They have FASTER THAN LIGHT TRAVEL, and they haven’t thought about space-stations?!), but honestly, I’m still LOVING THE HELL OUT OF IT. It’s got that dreamers and thinkers quality, that willful obsession with idea beyond all else, and it’s fantastic, even if one of the first lines is: Perhaps, she thought, a woman had no right to defend a man in a court like this. In the ancient days, when the Jury had been human, it might have been all right. But not in a court where a computer was the Jury and the only point at issue was the meaning of the law. Yowch, because obviously women can’t defend someone on any other basis than the “heart” of the law, because…because…vagina. XD Still, it’s kind of magical. Reminds me a bunch, obviously, of Day of the Triffids and a lot of John Christopher’s stuff, too (which I also love).

What I’m avoiding: “Any Day But Today” retyping. For some reason, I am just so unenthused right now. I loved it as I wrote it, and I think I managed to capture something fairly fun, but there are a lot of tweaks it needs, and I think I’m just feeling overwhelmed about successfully incorporating them. And I really just need to bite the bullet and get to work.

This has been a craptacular month for reading. Or writing, if I’m being honest. A whole month! *sobs* There are a number of factors that may have contributed to this, but the simple formula is BOOK APPETITE > TIME + ENERGY. And I worry the rest of 2016 will just be more of the same. I was so close to hitting that 55 books for the year goal, and maybe, maybe I can still get there if I double down, but I’ve been feeling it slipping through my fingers in June/July/Aug.

And a good portion of this slipping (at least in Aug) is my own fault. I jumped on two large collections of short fiction, and–while it scratched my itch to read more short stuff–has just been slow going. The audiobooks–my staple for upping my reading count, I’ve realized–have stalled on a crappy audio-rental app that I just don’t have the energy to fight with, and I’m not quite ready to give up on the audio-form of The Soul of an Octopus, because the author has a great reading voice, but BAH. THAT APP. And energy levels have been at an all-time low, and I’ve been so braindead at 10PM that reading just isn’t what I fall back on. (BLASPHEMY!)

So this coming month has some straight-up novels (some for context research), and I’m just going to keep plugging away on what I’ve started. I need to start thinking “categories” again, like I used to. Quite a few of my current list satisfy the same cravings which tend to clash and slow progress. I really want to get back to that earlier year book appetite!

So, current reading list is:

Status Update:

The Soul of an Octopus — I’m stalled on this one until I either check out the paperback or find another way to rent/purchase the audiobook. I love the author’s reading voice, but if I have to purchase it, it may be a little while…

Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace — UGH. This book just… I know it’s all important stuff, and it’s not even really inaccessible, but for some stupid reason I just have 0% motivation to read this one. I’l probably have to put a moratorium on future writing books until this is finished.

The Art & Craft of Novel Writing — I’m about half through this one, but I’ve already picked up a few really thought-provoking tips already.

Flotsam: Exile — I’ve decided to go ahead and count this for what it is: a trilogy of novellas, each of which were published separately first. So I’m going to try to wrap Exile by month’s end. Really like the whole idea of the alternate-dimension/other world “The Gloom.”

Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2014 — I’m in shooting distance of the halfway point on this one, but I’m really enjoying the absolute influx of great stories so far. It’s just what I needed.

Sandman: Volume 1 — Just started this to see if I could get through it by month’s end, but it’s great to have a touchpoint for some of the Sandman references I’ve seen bouncing around. Still can’t quite get over how much Dream looks like a gaunt Neil Gaiman, but I suspect that was intentional. ^_-

Selected Stories of O. Henry — Man, still just one story in. This definitely suffered from trying to tackle two collections at once. I may back-burner this one until I finish the Year’s Best.

Osama — 50% through this one. Still finding it hard to make time to read it on my phone in the evening, but Bug’s been enjoying longer baths again lately, so I can get a little reading in then. Still enjoying the style and underlying idea behind this one a lot, though there are times I feel like the main character does a bit too much sitting around brooding over a scotch and cigarette in his puzzlement. Still, I suspect the final reveal on this one is going to be fantastic.

The Beck Diet Solution — About halfway through this one, too (seeing a trend?). It’s very interesting, but it’s been kind of out of mind lately. Time to change that!

To be fair, I’ve also picked up a copy of Albedo One which I’m thinking I might try to blast through in the next week to up the count for the month, and I’ve started Chiller, one of the research-related novels, so we’ll see what next month looks like!

(Oh, please be better…)

So, I’m running a bit late this week. No real excuses, just the usual travel and lack of free time.

What I’m working on this week: Still settling back in to the general, unpredictable routine post-travel and family wedding. It seems crazy how long it takes me to get back into my normal place post-disruption these days. Still, I did start the short story edit like I wanted to last week, so that’s something. I’m going to try to continue that work this week. It would be fantastic to get it to a retype-able second draft, but that may be overly optimistic.

What’s inspiring me: Stranger Things, Stranger Things, Stranger Things. Finally finished it on Friday last week, and quite enjoyed it. I do think Barb’s characterization was a bit thin, and the whole “hole in the tree” sequence was pretty heavy-handed, but overall, it was a lot of fun. I’m worried, of course, about whether or not they could continue what they started here in the first season in a second season. American Horror Story was fantastic the first season, but I haven’t been able to get back into it since.

Also: bullet journaling. Yes, it’s a “thing” right now, and no, I probably won’t do it *exactly* like it’s described (I’m interested, though, in incorporating some of the Accidental Creative stuff (notecard translation/Weekly/Monthly Checkpoints/etc.) into it, too), but I’m playing around with it. Plus, dear lord, don’t get me on Pinterest looking up bullet journaling ideas, because DEAR LORD, there are some folks with way too much time on their hands who can make absolutely beautiful spreads and pages. Me, I’m going for simple (but not entirely unpretty). Because pretty is fun, too! But only in so much as it doesn’t interfere with the getting-things-done aspect. I’m not entirely sure if this will replace my day planner, since I really need the visual calendar and have to make my own in my current notebook (pain…), but we’ll see. I love the idea of keeping everything in one place, and even the more artistic ways of tracking habits/time, because I’m definitely a scrap-paper-notes packrat right now.

What I’m avoiding: Really, it’s the short story edit. This less uniform approach to writing, while necessary for me at this point, is fantastic for writing new things (the energy build-up is palpable for new projects), but not very effective for editing. I need a more regular schedule for the editing side of things so I continue to bring projects to submittable-completion, so for now, I’ll keep trying to commit to 20 minutes a day and just see where that gets me.

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Day 2 – 9:30AM – Twenty hours after our initial experiment, the creature has begun to rise and bubble in its own putrescence. Dr. Bugwallis has made no comment, but his silence appears pleased. This is a good sign. I, admittedly, had my doubts. While I, too, desired to test the hands of fate and conjure some unholy form of life, I was uncertain our methods would produce any such results.

I had spent some considerable time (re: fifteen to twenty minutes) reviewing the tenuous instructions within the weathered pages of the Cook’s Illustrated before I dared apply the requisite mixture of whole wheat and all-purpose flours to the room-temperature, filtered water. But despite my hesitations, it appears we have struck upon something… Dr. Bugwallis ignores this mixture for now, presumably indicating more time is necessary before the extraction or application of the first transfusion of fresh flour can occur. I shall follow his lead carefully.

IN OTHER NEWS…

Finally (after three days) I feel like I’m finally starting to crawl, clumsily, back onto the horse of regular routine. Monday and Tuesday were both disasters. After so much socializing and entertaining Bug in non-two-year-old-optimized surroundings, I think I was just completely done. We watched copious amounts of TV and lazed around in the sandbox and kiddie pool and eventually ordered a pizza, because even making dinner was just…no. Tuesday we got to the park and went grocery shopping, but that was the extent of achievement. Did try a veggie pad thai, but…I mean, it was good for the one bowl I had of it, but the thought of eating the leftovers is just…bleh. Not sure what it is, but I think it’s a texture thing. It did taste like pad thai, so that was good. Maybe I just don’t like pad thai as much as I feel like I should.

Yesterday was better. I got back into my FlyLady morning routine (a miniature version consisting of getting dressed, swish-and-swiping the bathrooms, making the bed, and keeping the sink shining). It helped, though. We got to the park again, then went swimming at our friend’s lake-side apartment, which was lovely. And I even came back and made salmon and asparagus, and after Bug went down, I even did some short story editing.

And watched Stranger Things with Andy. We’ve been addicted since we started right before I left for the wedding festivities last Wednesday. OH. MY. WORD. Seriously, it’s right on the edge of too scary for me, but it is SO MUCH FUN. I’m really glad we’re checking it out, and Andy’s loving it too. It’s hitting all the right nostalgia buttons. It’s one of those shows I enjoy watching so much that the theme music literally gives me chills when it comes on. I haven’t had that since X-Files! So good. The last episode (episode 5) wasn’t as fantastic as the previous four have been, but I suspect it’ll pick up again. It was just a little force-plotty, which up until now, it hasn’t been.

And on that note, enjoy a few really AWFUL, HILARIOUS truck songs, because this is currently the soundtrack of my life:

The original Sunday Circle is here, on Peter M. Ball’s blog. 

What I’m working on this week: Well, this past week was about as busy as I’d expected. We have family visiting from far-off, and a wedding, so we’ve been away from computers and traveling quite a bit. I did get a chance to reread the short story edit, and am hoping to get started on the rewrite this week.

What’s inspiring me?: ZOMG I finally started watching Stranger Things, and am loving it. The music alone is fabulous, but it’s really nailed that Steven-Kingish-80s-Horror-Novel feel spot-on. (I’ll admit I’m too much of a coward to watch it alone, so Andy and I ate only 2 episodes in so far, but we mainline those in one weeknight, which is rare for us theses days unless something is really fantastic.) It’s definitely right on the edge of my scare-limit, but so far my adult tendency to not have nightmares about movies is holding. (Though I did wake up the other night half-convinced someone was in the room…took a while to get back to sleep! Lol) 

What am I avoiding?: Again, I’m just trying not to guilt myself about the speed of my progress currently. One little goal at a time, and trying to be open to bursts of inspiration whenever they happen. :)

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