Career Fail Update

my most recent rejection notice

“Details, Details” came back on Monday, rejected (amazingly fast) by The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. It was my first personalized rejection letter—written to me, naming the story and signed by a person (who I pray lives to famously regret his error in judgment). Thus the writing career continues to suck in a very large mode.

I still have three plays out, but it’s been months and months for those. For both “Underground” and “Details, Details” I need to spend important time searching new markets. Likewise, with Everybody back and as yet not out anywhere else, I need to consider more play markets. I just don’t like that research—both finding publications and investigating what they want/like.

Of course, writing the blog is taking time away from both writing new material to send out—such as the still-incomplete new Tourist stories, “Taking the Plunge” and “Stopover.”  On the other hand, I do find writing for this venue stimulates my imagination and by posting works in progress forces me to keep working on them. For instance, I have a significant development for “Mantorville” ahead, but I’ve come up with some important revisions on that section I need to complete before I post it.

I keep mentioning The Tourist without explanation. That’s bad of me. It’s the suspense series of which “Underground” was the first story, and as I have only ever posted the first few thousand words of that story, no one except the favored few who received the complete thing back in the summer know what I’m talking about. Therefore, I intend to finish “Stopover” as soon as possible and post it as an example of what the series is about, and I will explain at that time what I’ve got in mind.

As you may be able to tell, I like to keep working on a number of things at once. This habit goes back to my teaching days when writing was truly just a hobby (as if it isn’t now). In those days I would just write on whatever took my fancy, new stories or old stuff. Nowadays when my invention flags, switching to different material at least keeps me writing. Of course the blog and its daily demands are among those alternatives. Unfortunately, I think the serious true professionals believe you should keep working on one thing at a time and force it through to a conclusion, just like they recommend taking two hours to do nothing but write daily—no Internet, no e-mail, no nothing but writing. I try to do that after the morning run and my shower, but I always check my e-mail accounts and Facebook first, so that distraction has often postponed (or worse) the daily writing session, and then I decide to write a blog post instead of a story…

Running helps in the imagination department. When it gets hard and I’m getting tired, letting my mind drift off into whatever various fantasies arise often leads to plot insights or character clarifications or altogether new things to write (and keeps me running because as long as my mind is drifting I’m not aware of how sore my knees and ankles are or how weary and breathless I feel). The run on Monday may have contributed to starting a new Sepharad series—well, that time to think and having watched The Chosen on one of the movie channels before I went out, while waiting for fog to lift so the cars might have a chance of seeing me as I dazedly jogged along. (Currently I’m only doing four miles, instead of the usual six, which came pretty easily last fall.)

Monday evening, after a full day of accomplishing just about nothing except checking e-mail and Facebook and proofreading several posts for the blog, I started a new story, long-considered, a sword-and-sorcery tale set in medieval Moorish Spain (I mentioned this idea before), and although it’s only about 1500 words so far, it was kind of fun to write. Perhaps we’ll be seeing some of that here soon.

Otherwise, it appears it’s time for me to spend some days doing the boring tedium of this writing-career dream—locating markets and preparing typescripts. That may mean some rushed and abbreviated blog posts, like this, but know that I should be hard at real work instead.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

2 thoughts on “Career Fail Update

  1. Stephen King writes 4 or 5 novels at a time. He writes on one till he runs out of ideas for it, then switches to another. So keep writing.

    • Thanks for the support, Dave. That pretty much describes my work technique, too. Interestingly, King also began as an English teacher (just more ambitious and talented than I), and his Maine may have inspired me to make use of eastern Iowa similarly (although I was really thinking of the Miskatonic Valley).

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