Setting the Bar High

Posted: March 10, 2013 in Writing

Stage one of my novel is done. It has been for a while. Now that it’s three pounds of paper and I’m editing the b’jebus out of it (which is a whole different blog post), I’m paying a lot more attention to the back end of getting things published. You know, all the stuff that happens after the writing. Finish my initial editing pass, dole it out to the beta readers and dust it up after that. So all that other stuff like agents and submissions and contracts… that’s all on the horizon for me.

Well, the SF world is all up in arms about that kind of stuff now. Writer Beware dropped some info on a new imprint that’s douchey to writers. With no real experience whatsoever, even I knew it was pretty douchey. The Random House people responded and people got even angrier. Scalzi has a lot of it over on his blog. I’m sure anyone who is even tangently involved with SF writing has heard about it.

Two things in all this really stood out to me and struck home. First is Never Reject Your Own Story from Kelly McCullough’s blog. The other one was from Scalzi again, New Writers, eBook Publishers and the Power to Negotiate.

McCullough’s post in particular is helping me out a lot. There’s a great opportunity for a short story out there. I outlined it from scratch six weeks ago and then lost all my steam on it. I wasn’t feeling it. That story wasn’t exciting to me anymore. I tend to outline when I write. I tend to have idea’s marinate in my head a long time before anything gets committed to paper, outline or skipping to the actual story. I didn’t in the case of the Great Opportunity. I pulled a couple of characters I really like from another story and created this from scratch. Now it’s weeks later, the thing is due this week, and I’ve been sitting around wondering if I should try to push through it to take advantage of the Great Opportunity or keep working on one of the projects that’s exciting, Amity v1.5 or outlining the Connecticut godpunk novel.

Never reject your own story. It’s up to me to write it. If I get all blah about the story, it’s never going to go anywhere. It’s got to be sent out on its way to go anywhere. It was a kick in the pants. Not one I needed for the novel writing, that comes more natural to me. But my short story writing really needed that. It’s more of a challenge to me so I needed that kick.

I lopped off the beginning and redid the entire outline. It’s going somewhere now. I like it again.

The Scalzi bit is important as hell for anyone trying to shop around anything, novels, short stories, their kidneys. Don’t sell yourself short. Look, I know my stuff isn’t out there yet, but I’ve gotten to a point with my work that I know it’s pretty good. I’ll never call it perfect. I don’t think any writer should call their stuff perfect. We should always be trying to do a bit better than the last thing. I can actually believe the “we like it, it’s just not for us” rejections now. I’ve read a lot of stuff that’s better than mine, but I’ve also read plenty that’s worse. So I can get it out there and get on the other side of the fence.

So when I do, I don’t want to accept a pile of crap for my work. I’m sure it would suck real hardcore to be handed a garbage contract when I shop my novel around. But damnit I’m going to say no to garbage. I don’t shop my short stories to markets that don’t qualify as professional. It’s not going to help me to take the short stick. People keep going on about how exposure doesn’t count as anything worth a damn. I can get exposure in the pro markets. So what if my stuff is kind of weird for them? Maybe my Great Opportunity story sells. Then maybe someone wants to see the other story with those characters. That quirky story that was too weird for someone might become prime then. But if I dump it off on a second rate market, then all those opportunities dry up. If I end up dropping a story here on my blog or dabble with an estory, that’s my choice to pull it out and apply it to a different area. That’s not someone else making a buck off of giving me the short end of the stuck.

I’ve got more pride than to sell my own work short.

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