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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

zanzjan

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I had twins in August, and most of the year was spent either being pregnant and unwell or running around like a lunatic taking care of two tiny little men. Only now that they're four months old am I able to grab time to write every day, and even that isn't much.

My twins are now eight and (slightly) more amenable to letting me write in peace, but man do I remember those early days. And yeah, my writing/subs for that year were woefully thin. Any writing you get done is a major victory.
 

CharlyT

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I started the year out well last year with keeping up with the 1 short/month last year, but I didn't end well. I'm recommitting to that goal for 2017, and I want to hit a minimum of 10k words per month on my various novel projects.

So far so good on the 'short per month goal for 2017', I've finished a long flash /short short piece and got it out on sub today. I did push pause on the longer short I've got about 3/4s done, so I plan on finishing that one by the end of the month too, hopefully getting me a step closer to catching up to the cumulative goal and what I didn't get done in 2016. And *then* I'll return my attention to the novel I've got in the edit stage. I have to fill in lots of stuff in the middle - it pretty much goes from catalyst to climax with very little in between. Gotta fix that!
 

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Sounds like you're well on top of things, Charly. I think that having a good January is half the battle. My first draft of my January short is done too, and although it wrestled me to the final word, I'm pretty happy with how it came out so far.

zanz, twins are amazing, and I could spend all day holding them. 2017 for me will be the year that I finally figure out how to balance family, writing and the day job. Honest it will.
 

mistri

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I've got a two-year-old and I still haven't got back to being able to find a routine that works for me. Doing it with twins is amazing!

This year I want to write shorts regularly, but not at the expense of the novel projects I'm working on, which suffered last year.
 

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I need to ask you all a personal question. Are you able to write during periods of depression and despair? I just got some terrible news. My cat, Lizzie (the one I'm holding in my profile photo), is only 6 but is suffering from congestive heart failure. She probably only has a few months to live, maybe. It might sound silly to some, but I'm devastated by this news. She's such an innocent soul who gives unconditional love. I had an instant connection with her the moment I met her in the shelter. She greets me happily at the door every day and sleeps beside me every night. The idea of seeing her decline and losing her so soon has just shattered me. I can barely eat or function. I'm able to get through my day job but my creative drive is completely dry. I don't want to write about it (aside from what I'm typing this moment) and my heart's just not in anything else. I know everyone handles grief differently. Is it able to fuel your writing? Do you sometimes just have to take a break until you're able to normalize and focus? I don't want to drag up sad memories for anyone, but I'm wondering if you've had a similar experience.
 

CharlyT

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I need to ask you all a personal question. Are you able to write during periods of depression and despair? I just got some terrible news. My cat, Lizzie (the one I'm holding in my profile photo), is only 6 but is suffering from congestive heart failure. She probably only has a few months to live, maybe. It might sound silly to some, but I'm devastated by this news. She's such an innocent soul who gives unconditional love. I had an instant connection with her the moment I met her in the shelter. She greets me happily at the door every day and sleeps beside me every night. The idea of seeing her decline and losing her so soon has just shattered me. I can barely eat or function. I'm able to get through my day job but my creative drive is completely dry. I don't want to write about it (aside from what I'm typing this moment) and my heart's just not in anything else. I know everyone handles grief differently. Is it able to fuel your writing? Do you sometimes just have to take a break until you're able to normalize and focus? I don't want to drag up sad memories for anyone, but I'm wondering if you've had a similar experience.

For me it depends on the nature of the relationship. If it was an unpleasant or complicated one but not a particularly close one (ie, a dismissive grandparent), I'm pretty angry and I write like crazy on topics that irk me. If it was an encouraging or positive but not close in my day-to-day life I'm inspired to write stories about hope (ie, an aunt who I adored but lived in another city who passed away after a long battle with cancer). If it's a close (proximity!) relationship (I've gone through some traumas with my 'complicated' adult son over the years) I Just. Can't. Write. At least, not while I'm going through the crippling-eating-out-your-insides-24-hours-a-day pain. Once the raw edges of that pain passes I can write again, but I find it's always a rocky start because of all the feelings of self-doubt those particular traumas raise up for me.
 

CharlyT

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I finally got that short I started in August done! It took three tries to get the ending worked out - the first two were as boring as snot, and I really hated them. I shelved it, let it get to me, procrastinated on writing all together, and turned my attention to other projects completely. Then last week I whipped out the fastest write I've ever done (it was a flash, but I find those *really* hard to write) and it spurred me on to finish off this one.

That makes 2 in 2 weeks! And I've started on another one! That said, I haven't touched either novel project in progress, but I'm taking my wins where I can find them right now.
 

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For me it depends on the nature of the relationship. If it was an unpleasant or complicated one but not a particularly close one (ie, a dismissive grandparent), I'm pretty angry and I write like crazy on topics that irk me. If it was an encouraging or positive but not close in my day-to-day life I'm inspired to write stories about hope (ie, an aunt who I adored but lived in another city who passed away after a long battle with cancer). If it's a close (proximity!) relationship (I've gone through some traumas with my 'complicated' adult son over the years) I Just. Can't. Write. At least, not while I'm going through the crippling-eating-out-your-insides-24-hours-a-day pain. Once the raw edges of that pain passes I can write again, but I find it's always a rocky start because of all the feelings of self-doubt those particular traumas raise up for me.

Thank you for sharing that. So true about the way we deal with different types of sorrow. The greater the pain, the harder it can be to function.
 

JJ Litke

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I need to ask you all a personal question. Are you able to write during periods of depression and despair? I just got some terrible news. My cat, Lizzie (the one I'm holding in my profile photo), is only 6 but is suffering from congestive heart failure. She probably only has a few months to live, maybe. It might sound silly to some, but I'm devastated by this news. She's such an innocent soul who gives unconditional love. I had an instant connection with her the moment I met her in the shelter. She greets me happily at the door every day and sleeps beside me every night. The idea of seeing her decline and losing her so soon has just shattered me. I can barely eat or function. I'm able to get through my day job but my creative drive is completely dry. I don't want to write about it (aside from what I'm typing this moment) and my heart's just not in anything else. I know everyone handles grief differently. Is it able to fuel your writing? Do you sometimes just have to take a break until you're able to normalize and focus? I don't want to drag up sad memories for anyone, but I'm wondering if you've had a similar experience.

I'm sorry, DF. One of our dogs died in 2015 from cancer, so I'm afraid I have an idea what you're going through. I forced myself to keep up with my 2-stories-a-month goal, but most of what I wrote got trunked immediately. Though I did write When the Planets Left somewhere in there—it's about loss, following the stages of grief.

I did take a big break last year, leaving a finished novel manuscript sitting and waiting for most of the year for me to get to revisions (finally finishing those revisions now). That was more about other life stresses, but I didn't try to force myself through like I did the year before. I don't think it was all that helpful to push when I didn't feel like it.
 

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Fork, I'm sorry that you and Lizzy have to go through this. I find that I can't write at all when I'm going through the trauma -- the creative well is dry for me. After a while, when I've reached the processing stage, then I find writing around the subject can help, just as JJ said. Not on the topic exactly, but allowing my characters to explore the grief or betrayal or anger within their own circumstances.

Mistri, I think that in some ways fitting writing around a two-year-old is harder. I think balancing writing with family and outside work is always a compromise. It's a matter of piecing the jigsaw together in a way that you and the people around you can live with -- I haven't figured out the right configuration yet, but I'm still working on it.

Fantastic productivity, Charly! It's fantastic that you hit your stride like that.

Me, I'm on track to meet my January goals, and I'm a bit amazed by that. My January short is done and out, and my novel word-count is where it should be. To be fair, I didn't set my goals too high, but even so I'm enjoying being slightly ahead of the curve for once. I seem to spend most of my writing life chasing after my plans as they disappear into the sunset.

Hope everybody else is having a successful January too.
 

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I need to ask you all a personal question. Are you able to write during periods of depression and despair? I just got some terrible news. My cat, Lizzie (the one I'm holding in my profile photo), is only 6 but is suffering from congestive heart failure. She probably only has a few months to live, maybe. It might sound silly to some, but I'm devastated by this news. She's such an innocent soul who gives unconditional love. I had an instant connection with her the moment I met her in the shelter. She greets me happily at the door every day and sleeps beside me every night. The idea of seeing her decline and losing her so soon has just shattered me. I can barely eat or function. I'm able to get through my day job but my creative drive is completely dry. I don't want to write about it (aside from what I'm typing this moment) and my heart's just not in anything else. I know everyone handles grief differently. Is it able to fuel your writing? Do you sometimes just have to take a break until you're able to normalize and focus? I don't want to drag up sad memories for anyone, but I'm wondering if you've had a similar experience.

My heart cries out for you, DF. That's not silly at all. I've felt the same way when my pets have passed. It's immobilizing. I wrote a poem (I never write poetry) through tears once on the back of a napkin hours after one of my babies passed, but that was a rarity. Usually it takes me time to process (and stop accidentally calling their names out of habit). I frequently visited a site with a chatroom for people who have lost pets. A lot of people there will share their stories, both fresh and from years gone by. Many are very painful to read, especially if a loss is impending or fresh, but seeing other people talk about their stories did get me to voluntarily open up about my own. It's wasn't writing with the intent to publish, it was just an outpouring of raw words (confusion, regret, rage), and it felt cathartic to say them among so many people who knew exactly what I was feeling.
 

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Thank you so much for all of your kind words. The connections we've been fortunate enough to have with pets can leave us, as Cmalone said, immobilized when they get sick and pass away. I might have to check a forum about that at some point. Now it's just daily sadness as she seems to fade a little each day. I just try to focus on the good moments she has, like jumping up in bed to snuggle with us last night for the first time in days. That was really nice.
 

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That makes 2 in 2 weeks! And I've started on another one! That said, I haven't touched either novel project in progress, but I'm taking my wins where I can find them right now.

And I finished that 3rd one! At this rate I'll have caught up to my lifetime goal of 1 short per month by the end of Feb.

I really should find a way to drag myself back to at least one of the novel projects, though... It's just so.... daunting. :(
 

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I have this one story that's been rejected close to 50 times. I don't know if I'm just being stubborn, but I really don't want to give up on this one. I think it's some of my best work. I've got another one with 30-something rejections. Again, it's a good story in my opinion. I guess the rejection count is getting up there with a lot of my stories. Am I crazy for continuing to believe in these pieces? Do you guys have stories you just don't want to give up on? What's the most amount of rejections you ever got on one story and did you eventually find a place to take it?

Also, DetectiveFork -- Hope you are doing okay. Thinking of you and Lizzie and sending positive thoughts your way.
 

Tamlyn

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I have a fair few rejections on some stories that I still believe in. I also have stories I've put aside after a couple because I don't think the story works. So at least I'm probably not completely blind to my own work. Are there stories of yours you know aren't up to standard? If you think everything's brilliant, maybe you need to reassess, but otherwise if you believe in it, keep submitting it.

So far the 'best' I've done is a story with 17 rejections, then 1 acceptance. I just had to find the right place for it. (I have stories with more rejections, but I haven't sold them so...)
 

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Also, DetectiveFork -- Hope you are doing okay. Thinking of you and Lizzie and sending positive thoughts your way.

Thanks, gettingby (and to everyone for all the positive thoughts and understanding). We lost her earlier this week. She just wasn't responding to the meds and she got weaker every day. Saying goodbye is awful, especially when you have to make that choice, but we had a veterinarian come to the house - and I have to tell you, it was respectful, compassionate, and we were allowed all the time we needed. I wish I had known about this before with our previous cat; taking her to the cold and alien vet's office still haunts me. Anyway, it still broke our hearts. I've had cats before and loved them all, but there was an extra special connection with this one. The emptiness in the house is surreal. The most I can say is that in spite of the sadness, at least the constant worry and dread are over. We're just trying to focus on the good times and smile. I do feel the urge to write coming back, not about this situation, but as more of an escape and as a positive thing to do to keep busy.
 
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zanzjan

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So sorry for you loss, DetectiveFork. They leave such holes in our lives. :(
 

gettingby

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How much do you guys spend on your submissions if anything? It seems like so many of the literary journals are charging fees. A way around this some places is to mail hard copies, but that costs about the same as a fee. I want to submit my work to these places and have before (with no real luck). Last year I submitted everywhere I wanted. I didn't keep track of what it was costing me, but it did add up, I'm sure. I want to be smarter about this, but I also want to give myself and my stories a real opportunity to be published. I know a lot of you write genre and don't have this problem, but what do you think is a reasonable amount to spend on submissions (including contests) for a year? Or since I am having such a hard time placing my fiction am I just wasting money? I would love to hear from some of you about this. I feel like if I just ignore all the markets I would have to spend money to submit to, then I'm not really trying and pursuing all my options. It's just that money is real tight right now. Am I too poor to be a short story writer?
 

Joseph Schmol

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am I just wasting money?

I haven't seen your work anywhere on this site, so unless my search was flawed, it would seem you ask an unanswerable question.

How would anyone here tell you, "stop wasting your time," or, "with the way you write it's just a matter of time -- hang in there, fella" or any other such variation without being totally disingenuous?

In professional poker circles they call it "dead money." It's when a person with no chance of winning sits down to play with the pros. So you want to know if you are dead money? Don't you know only you can figure that out?
 
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gettingby

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I haven't seen your work anywhere on this site, so unless my search was flawed, it would seem you ask an unanswerable question.

How would anyone here tell you, "stop wasting your time," or, "with the way you write it's just a matter of time -- hang in there, fella" or any other such variation without being totally disingenuous?

In professional poker circles they call it "dead money." It's when a person with no chance of winning sits down to play with the pros. So you want to know if you are dead money? Don't you know only you can figure that out?

Shit. I'm totally dead money. That is exactly what is going on. I really don't want it to be true, but... I'm trying to sit down and trying play with the pros. Even if I'm great, the odds are still not in my favor. I am the amateur poker playing, thinking if I just keep betting on myself I will hit the jackpot. Meanwhile I lose all my money and fail to be taken seriously.
 

Sara K.

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I feel like I should know this, but I'm suddenly unsure of myself - what are the general guidelines for themed submissions if you've already submitted to that market?

I submitted a short to Cricket, who consider submissions for all their publications. Now Cicada, a different imprint under the same publishing company, have a theme coming up - Hauntings - that my story also fits. Is it okay to resubmit as it fits the theme, and is for a different imprint?

If it matters, I submitted this story to Cricket in late 2015, it was rejected early 2016.
 
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JJ Litke

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gettingby, none of the SFF markets charge submission fees (at least none of the ones I sub to).

I feel like I should know this, but I'm suddenly unsure of myself - what are the general guidelines for themed submissions if you've already submitted to that market?

I submitted a short to Cricket, who consider submissions for all their publications. Now Cicada, a different imprint under the same publishing company, have a theme coming up - Hauntings - that my story also fits. Is it okay to resubmit as it fits the theme, and is for a different imprint?

If it matters, I submitted this story to Cricket in late 2015, it was rejected early 2016.

Hmm, I'm not sure. Does it really work for the different age category?
 

Sara K.

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Hmm, I'm not sure. Does it really work for the different age category?

I believe so - I usually send it to adult markets, where it has gotten some good feedback (inc. F&SF & Shimmer encouraging me to send more of my work, which none of my other subs have managed), but it is about a younger person. While I don't see it as a YA or children's piece, it does suit that market in some ways, and fits beautifully into that Hauntings theme.
 

Joseph Schmol

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Shit. I'm totally dead money. That is exactly what is going on. I really don't want it to be true, but... I'm trying to sit down and trying play with the pros. Even if I'm great, the odds are still not in my favor. I am the amateur poker playing, thinking if I just keep betting on myself I will hit the jackpot. Meanwhile I lose all my money and fail to be taken seriously.

Well, if you are, in fact, dead money then all need not be lost. But to keep the poker analogy, you MUST honestly self-appraise your "game." Harboring vague thoughts like "I might be great, but among them I'm not great enough" is counter-productive. It is ego fluff. "I'm still great, it's just that it's SO HARD out there." Baloney.

May I share a story? (someone said, "Yes," and loudly. I'm sure I heard it!)

I played poker as a young man and into my early adulthood. I gambled at many things and was considered generally astute. I won more than I lost, in most endeavors. But then I got married and undertook raising a family, so I put aside my "childhood toys."

Years later I discovered Pokerstars and online gambling. Wow! Where has this been all my life? A poker game, for whatever stakes I want, available 'round the clock? I was in.

And for a several sessions I was the dead money. I lost each time, and a not insignificant amount of money. I was surprised (shocked?) confused, and wondered if online poker was in some way "fixed." It felt as if they could see my cards -- maybe they were seeing my cards?

So, I didn't play for awhile. I thought on it. Finally I decided that although a "cut-up game" could easily enough be arranged online -- with either "real" or computerized players -- it was much more likely I lacked the skills needed for this form of poker. It was not an easy admission (thankfully I valued my bankroll more than my delicate feelings).

I found and read a couple of books on internet poker (Texas Hold'em). I then played exclusively on the free side of the site, until I had committed to memory all of the automatic pre-flop calls and raises. Then I played in the penny stakes room until I'd made enough to stake myself in the nickel games. Then the dime games, quarter, etc., etc., etc., right on up the line. Eventually I transitioned to almost exclusively a tournament player. At my peak -- before Black Friday, when the US Treasury Department stole away our blessed poker -- I was ranked in the 98th percentile worldwide. I was on the cusp of becoming a full time (professional) poker player.

If that read like I was bragging, I apologize. I am proud, perhaps too proud, about what I accomplished playing poker. But I tell that story because how I set about becoming a winning poker player is the same method I've chosen to set about becoming a paid published novelist. It starts with my need to write better. Actually, it starts with my need to be brutally honest about how well I write at present. Most people fail at this step, and so I know if I can "buck up," I'm already ahead of the game. Then it's play in the free games until I dominate, move up in class ($.01), move up in class ($.05), etc., etc., etcetera.

The answer to a "dead money" player isn't to quit playing. It's to quit playing THAT game. Then it's find out what game you can play in and WIN. Then it's get better. Always get better. Before long you'll be the professional. I believe it.
 
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