Monthly Archives: September 2011

rejection and e-publishing

On the 4th of October, my (officially) first eBook goes life. It’s called ‘Urchin King’ and tells the story of a boy who discovers he’s the Royal Heir’s twin who should have been killed at birth (join our mailing list if you want to learn more). I wrote it 2008/2009 during a course I took, and it garnered full requests by several agents. Eventually, all rejected it.

Of course, it always hurts when someone rejects you but I didn’t take it personally. Rejection is part of the business. I’ve been writing for a long time (I’m not going to tell you for how long or you could figure out how old I am), and got more rejections to show for it that acceptances.

The funny side is, that most rejections are personalized. The editors loved my stories and my writing style but…
Believe me, I looked very closely at those but…s. And I found that most traditional publishers (at least in Germany) are not really looking for something different. They want the same old stuff, it only has to feel different. New trends are always imported from abroad (mainly the US), and new writers are hardly ever given a chance, especially in fantasy. Sciene Fiction hasn’t been published for German kids by traditional publishers in ages, and the last historical fiction for kids I saw is more than 15 years old.

Is it a wonder so many new authors turn to e-publishing? Sure, I have to invest my own money to get my stories edited. I have to use my own time to advertise them and find readers. But why should that bother me? I put months, and in some cases years, into writing my books. I know the writing is up to what editors and readers expect. If I am not excited and ready to take a risk on my own books, who else will?

That said, be very careful when/if you want to self publish. Do spend time, effort, and money to create a professional product. You can only win readers by doing your best.

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Emotional Discipline

I remember reading an article by Jessica Morrell that included her musings on the subject of emotional intelligence. When I began reading, I expected to learn about the logic of my character arc. Instead, I read about me–and every other writer out there. Jessica discussed my ability to do what needed to be done despite how I felt at the moment. Could I be depressed, feel miserably misunderstood and undervalued, and still put my butt in my chair, get my eyes on the screen, put fingers to keyboard and write? Could I channel those self-destructive energies into character conflict instead of tearing into my own ego?

A very interesting, thought-provoking read, especially coming on the heels of a short motivational piece by Ralph Marston about how my time use highlights what I really want, as opposed to what I say I want.

I want to be a full-time writer. If that’s true then my choices, what I do with my time on a daily basis, will reflect that desire. If I allow my emotions to get between me and my keyboard, I’m shooting my dreams in the foot. So emotional intelligence becomes an issue I need to be aware of. Not that I shouldn’t honor my emotions and acknowledge my feelings. Far from it. I need to channel them into my writing instead of allowing them to deflect me from my work.

I think a better term is emotional discipline. Intelligence works as far as informing me that the potential roadblock exits, but it’s discipline that will get me around (or more likely over) the blockade.

Feeling like a fraud, like my writing sucks? Write a story or an essay.
Feeling depressed and miserable? Write a story.
Feeling angry and upset? Write a story and allow the characters to act on those emotions … and witness the carnage I’ve avoided in my real life.

Whatever emotion I’m experiencing, I must deal with it, soothe it, put it away with honor, and get my butt in my chair and my hands on my keyboard.

Why? Because I want to be a full-time writer and my time use needs to reflect that desire.

Chopping Wood is Better than Shoveling Sand

The only job I ever had that I really disliked was doing chores for my Dad. Long story, probably should involve a qualified therapist. But when he set me to the task of cutting wood as a sophomore in high school, I thought I’d really hit bottom. Not just cutting up logs- cutting DOWN trees in the first place and then scoring them up into cord-lengths. My partner had a chain saw for the second part, but I did the first (getting the trunks down- “timberrr!”) as well as the third segment, chopping the log-rolls into nice splits for the fireplace. I had blisters on my hands the size of quarters and really knew what it meant to be bone-weary, especially those first few days.

But I loved it. Hey, no one was more surprised than me. But being outdoors, away from city-sounds, and working just as hard physically as I could manage was one of those character-building experiences I always hated to admit I’d had as a kid. When the job is huge, daunting, but fun, I think about chopping wood.

Writing my first novel, “Judgement’s Tale” was chopping wood. It was an enormous job- my first reviewers screamed at me about the length and it’s over 200 thousand words (not that long for epic fantasy, but, for a reviewer, well LONG), but I just loved doing it. I could see the pile of unwritten chapters shrinking; I cut down the trunks myself (as I synopsized each one), then whacked away with first and second drafts until they seemed right. Now I’m coming back to it and asking a set of “beta” reviewers to look, and the chore is again peppered with joy as well as hard work.

Trying to hawk this novel, fresh off completion back at the start of this year was probably one of the most depressing experiences of my life. Form rejection after form rejection, varied only by no-responses; I felt like I was back in high school again, trying to get a date for the prom. Hey, maybe that’s why I didn’t mind chopping wood in the middle of the forest. It was like… like… I finally pictured it (writers need to picture things, yeah?). It was like shoveling sand from an enormous beach through this darkened doorway into, nothing. If you’ve ever shoveled sand, or snow, you know how the exhaustion overtakes you. It’s still bone-weary work. But the darkened doorway, that was the key. I sent letters and asked and searched boards on the web for more clues, I sharpened the query over and over, tried again. Nothing. You can never tell what it’s going to ultimately require, how much sand has to go through the doorway before you’re done. Maybe it was just another beach through there.

So I gave up. Don’t care who knows it, either. I don’t know what to do with my enormous novel “Judgement’s Tale”, or whether it will ever see the light of paper or e-pub. But I always knew I enjoyed the writing (and revision) for its own sake.

And I remember the difference between chopping wood and shoveling sand.

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