You’ve poured out your heart and soul, spending weeks, months, in some cases years to complete that short story, non-fiction piece or novel; the poem that was written on one lovely afternoon has been revised to perfection; you’ve done your research and found the perfect place to submit; after several rewrites, a professional edit, and a polished query, off it all goes into the ether, awaiting its fate.
Time passes and one day an answer arrives; you rip open the envelope or click on that email and see these words: “we regret that we have decided not to publish your work at this time…” The letter continues on describing the large number of submissions they receive, how they can only publish a small percentage, and concludes with wishing you luck in placing your work elsewhere. You’re left to nurse your wounds, wondering what was so wrong with your work and if you will ever write again.
Once the mourning period is over, you will write again. Rejection is part of the writing process. Publishing is a competitive industry and for every one acceptance there are a hundred rejections in its wake. Rejections are inevitable – the question is, how will you handle them? Will you let them defeat you? Or will you learn from them? Some letters will provide suggestions as to how to revise your work or offer a small critique – take this advice and apply it to your work. Most responses are a generic letter thanking you for your submission, with no helpful comments – you are now free to send it somewhere else and see what happens. If a particular piece is always being rejected, perhaps it’s time to give it back to your first reader, or share it with a writing group for some new feedback and amendments.
Don’t stop writing or give up on your babies; there are many potential homes for your work, and with a lot of patience and persistence, they will find a place to call home.
The city is buzzing with energy…not only is it buzzing with energy, it’s brimming with secrets just waiting to unfold.
The city is always swarming. It’s a live entity fueled by people racing from one place to another; every day, with precision, the vagrants emerge from their hovels and shuffle to their designated street corners; a continuous stream of cars roll between tall buildings stained with windows. Stories can be found lurking in the alleys, reflected in the tinted windows of a high-rise, and jammed between the doorways of dusky bars and coffee shops. Every park, community garden, hotel, restaurant or bridge is a potential setting waiting for characters to come and leave their footprints.
I am, by nature, a small town girl – most of my stories evolve from the intimacies of small town life; but spend an afternoon walking through city streets and you will be amazed at how many characters and plots can be revealed.
Have you ever asked yourself why you write? For the love of creating? For clarity? To entertain? For acceptance? To discover your voice? To leave your mark? I sometimes wonder why I am drawn to writing.
I started writing poems when I was a child. It was a secret thrill to manipulate the words to find the rhyme, watching them dance together in a covert pattern on the page. As I grew older, my poems became more sophisticated, more free verse that evolved into stories. I loved playing with language, sculpting characters, situations and setting. English became my favourite subject and I excelled in grammar, only to snub all those rules in my writing. I loved recreating images on the page. In the beginning, I wrote just for me –I still do, but along the way I found an audience that enjoyed my words as much as I did. I love taking people on a journey through the secret world in my mind.
The reasons for writing are numerous and complex; whatever your reasons for needing to bring your words to the page, always remember to enjoy the process.
What were the first stories you wanted to write? Were they dramatic adventures in strange lands? Was it fantasy, mystery, drama or comedy? Did you have villains and heroes? Did you write in the moment, infusing your words with your own life?
My first stories derived from the world around me. I remember carrying a small blue diary when I was a child; in that book, I wrote poems about the natural world, shaping stories around my environment. I remember sitting in the arms of my grandmother’s apple tree, writing about the images I saw in her own backyard. The natural elements awakened in my poetry, and eventually trickled their way into my stories. I wanted to create tales with sweeping plotlines that drowned my characters in dire circumstances, but I struggled with that route; instead, I discovered that stories emerged naturally from circumstances of my own life. I uncovered a subtle darkness in my writing, and I learned to embellish that facet, creating a rich tapestry of narratives and poetry that expressed both the beautiful and ugly aspects of my world.
I often look back on those early stories. They taught me how to connect with readers through writing about my own experiences. I exposed myself to the formula of crafting stories through the exploits of my own life and found my voice.