|The author, Dane F. Baylis|
WHEN DO YOU JUST GIVE UP AND WALK AWAY?
HOW NOT TO BE HELD HOSTAGE BY A REJECTION SLIP!
Okay, all you self-published darlings of the Amazon ninety-nine cent list or those of you who have posted absolutely everything you've ever written to your personal blog and consider that being published...You can flip over to some vampire-zombie-astro-fantasy page. Today is for those of us who have had someone other than our own ego-centric selves in mind as "publishers" for our work. I don't care if it's a local weekly newspaper, a quarterly poetry journal, some collegiate press with significant cache, a monthly hi-tone magazine or the big time of one of the major houses. If you're out there in the trenches, submitting and re-submitting, there are those days when you really wonder what made you think you were a damned writer.
Do you write? Do you send things out for others to pass judgement on? Do you sob into your pillow uncontrollably when the rejection notice bears no hint as to why you were turned down? Do you lick another stamp as faithfully as you do Madame Alexis shoe down at the house of pain? Then you are definitely a writer...and probably in need of a little therapy, too!
When is it time to retire your keyboard? The only answer I know is - Never! So maybe you should retire that particular story/poem/article? Uh-uh, don't even think about it or I'll let you take care of the muse cat for a week or two. You have no idea the agony in that task..."But you loved gourmet tuna yesterday."
If you've sent a piece out once or twice, and it wasn't so narrowly focused that you've exhausted the possibilities already, it's time to lick another stamp or hit "Send" yet again. Should you commit to a major rewrite after the first pass? No, you're dealing with editors and, no matter what image we have of them, (I'm thinking Anne Rice's novels), they are human. That means that they are subjective. In other words, you may just have run up against another person's tastes and you didn't mesh. Try someone else, right now.
Okay, so this happens three or four times, can you give up now? Nope, re-read your work. Have someone else read it. Not your bff, or your mom, or whoever it is your shagging this week. They will tend to be a bit prejudicial. Find someone who likes to read and seems to have a grip on the language you've written this masterpiece in. I have read my own things to death and had others pitch in and still sat down later with the, "Oh my dear lord! How did we all miss THAT!" reaction.
Check out a good tome on the craft of getting into an editors office, (Remember, your stuff is likely seen by an intern or subaltern first. Don't you love that word...subaltern...Sorry, I digress.) These minions have hundreds of manuscripts slammed into their in boxes and it is their job to slam dunk them straight into the out box. However, they are looking for certain failings and signals, if you can avoid making the typical mistakes, you have a chance. I highly recommend, "Editor-Proof Your Writing", by Don McNair. This is a step by step course in creating the style that will get you past the first glance and might just land you on the desk of the person who has the authority to transform you from a writer into a "published" writer.
Will this do the trick right away? Whoa there, Usain Bolt, you're still dealing with a human being. Maybe yes/maybe no, is my considered opinion.
So, if you're still not getting there, can you now chuck this one and move on! NO! I have one of my own stories out right now that was in "title v.5" before an editor said, "Rework this and send it back to me." So, after a week or so work and research, I made it "title v.6" and hit the send key.
Even if you decide you just don't think this one's going to fly, keep it on file. You put a lot of work into it already, it might not be a stand alone but it might be a good chapter in another tale. You may have developed a character with real, well, CHARACTER, why reinvent the wheel later. Create a better story for this unfortunate out of work actor.
My main point is, nothing you have written is dead. There is always a chance, hell, try resubmitting something you've rewritten three or nine times to the first possible editor you thought of. Remember, you're probably going to hit an overworked intern's desk. Unless it was just so achingly bad the first time they saw it, they probably won't remember. In that case, there is a chance they'll pass it on to the boss. Especially in a rewrite gen 5! I know, I've done it.
You've probably caught the gist by now. Never say never, outside of cliche ridden horror, your own desk and imagination is the only place where the seemingly dead can be reliably resurrected. All you need is the magic word. NEXT!
Meanwhile...live, love, write.
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Dane F. Baylis