In one of my favorite movies, “Because of Winn Dixie,” a little girl is trying some candy for the first time. It’s candy that tastes of sadness and she drops it from her mouth to the sidewalk and says, “Yuck. This tastes bad.” And though I haven’t eaten any sad candy, I’m having one of those days.
A month ago, I submitted my first submission to my online critique group. It was a flash piece that was over-edited and poorly proofed. I was in a hurry, trying to get back and forth to Montana, distracted — I have a lot of reasons for why it was turned in that way, but none of them really excuse me from the responsibility of making sure it was right.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression and this week the piece made its way to the front of the queue. Now there must be hundreds of writers who think I’m a hack because I forgot apostrophes and accidentally cut articles — and this is after spending weeks being complemented for my editing skills. One critique told me to make sure and fix all the errors before I sent it to publishers. (Thanks?) What’s worse is that no one has gotten the story. There’s too much going on, there’s not enough going on. And no one has been particularly polite or supportive. I don’t have as much trouble with negative feedback in person, but for some reason, the online lack of tone really gives me a lot of trouble.
I need to get a thicker skin.
Hello blog. I’ve missed you. Well, a little. See, I’ve had my hands in quite a few pies these last couple of weeks. Here’s what I’ve been up to:
- Writing several shorts: Mouse Trap (75 words), The Spider (1000 words), Sassy (1000 words), and The Artist (250 words). All need a few rounds of editing and a home. I’ve also outlined a new essay and have plans for another 1000+ word story. I’m working on shorts right now for several reasons — my travel schedule is such that it’s hard to buckle down on the novel, I’m trying to make myself move more slowly with the novel, and working on shorter pieces is good exercise for honing that voice of mine.
- Critiquing at critters.org! This week I viewed a Horror synopsis and a fantasy short story. I really love critiquing. I hope, at some point, that I can edit for others, as well as myself. I’m trying to do 2 a week and can hopefully increase as time goes on.
- I’m also working on a grant application to help fund my non-income-earning self.
- I’m also seriously considering more non traditional options for my YA novel project and have broken out the tried and true pros and cons list. So we’ll see. All and all, it’s a very exciting time, despite also being a strange time.
We’ll see how this burst of creativity pans out in the coming months…
Yesterday evening, in the middle of cooking dinner and downloading with the gentleman about our days, I checked my email on my phone. The first email in the list was a rejection letter from a publication I’d submitted to earlier in the week.
I started to read, expecting a summary dismissal. But it wasn’t a form letter. It was a personal rejection. It was brief but encouraging, complimentary and forward looking. And I was so happy. I mean, of course, I would have been far happier had they wanted the pieces, but I understood why they hadn’t wanted them.
In some ways, I’m glad for the rejection — the chance to build my ongoing relationship with it and process it in a mentally healthy way. I hesitate to submit because I don’t know what a lot of rejection feels like — and I’m frightened. So I’ve resolved to work on shorter pieces for awhile, to keep this exercise going. The future is exciting…