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  1. #1
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    Write One, Sub One

    Today, I got a rejection email. Normally, I just get form rejections. I file them away, and try not to cry too hard over it. The one I got this morning wasn't much different. Except, it had one extra paragraph: a brief summary of the editor's response to my story.

    It was terrible. The editor said, more or less, that I couldn't write. It put me on the verge of tears. But, surprisingly, my mood changed quickly.

    For whatever reason, harsh criticism spurs me to action. I now want to write and submit more stories. Maybe I just like the sharp pain of rejection, or maybe I want to prove that editor wrong. Whatever the case, I've decided to participate in the Write One, Submit One meme.

    As far as I understand it, you write a short story once a week (or once a month), and submit either it or another (nice, clean, edited) story to a market (paying or not) once a week (or once a month).

    Is this madness? Should I do it? Should you do it? Should we do it?

  2. #2
    Speaks fluent Bawehrf zachariah's Avatar
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    You can write. You should write. Your stuff is good and you created an anthology that thousands of people have read. If you stop, I will hunt you down and cut off one of your toes.

  3. #3
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    I know it's not the point of your post, but I'd be curious to hear a little more about what the editor said. Did s/he simply outline the faults of the work, or actually make a personal attack. It's kinduv a jerk move to actively encourage someone to stop writing.

    Concerning the write 1/sub 1, it's an interesting idea. The upside is that is gets you to write, submit, and receive feedback. The downside (for me) is that churning out a story a week would take away from the overall quality of each piece. That's just for me though. It doesn't necessarily apply to every writer.

    After doing a little research on it, this may have started with Ray Bradbury. If true, it certainly worked for him. If you enjoy shorter pieces, I think it's a great idea.

  4. #4
    Registered User CharlotteAshley's Avatar
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    I would absolutely do this, tmso! It's all about writing more, trying again. You swing until you hit.

    And obvs, you can write. Different editors have different tastes and different tacks: that you even warranted a personal response means you made them think about it, and they thought there was value in giving feedback.

    Typing while commuting, so this is impersonal and brief. But, in short, you're good enough to get better and so am I, I think, so let's write and submit more.

  5. #5
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zach
    If you stop, I will hunt you down and cut off one of your toes.
    Well, with friends like that...

    Since I run barefoot, I need my toes. So don't worry, I won't stop. Though I will probably stop subjecting poor editors to my drivel - at least until I improve.

    Jason, the editor never told me to stop writing. S/he just said that I confused the heck out of them and that I should learn how to write.

    I'm not saying the editor was wrong in saying that. It is their opinion and they are entitled to it. And it is helpful to me, so I thank her/him for their candor. But! It does spur me to try to do better.

    And, yes, the Write 1/Sub 1 is inspired by Ray Bradbury. He did it, so maybe it might be a good idea for me.

    I think you are right, Charlotte. I have improved over the years. I just need to continue on that track. And the best way to do that is to continue writing and continue submitting. I'm with you. Let's do it! Once a month would suit me better. We can report our progress here in this thread?

    At least, I'll report it here. You all are more than welcome to join me.

  6. #6
    Greymane Wilson Geiger's Avatar
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    I don't think I'll be able to commit to that, not if I want to write a novel in the next couple of years.

    But I'm glad that the rejection has driven you to forge ahead. It's what writers do. Ignore the odds and keep pushing, writing, and getting better.

  7. #7
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    Yes, it's the "getting better" part that is important. And the only way to do that is to write.

    In the past two years, I've written two crappy novels. I don't want to waste another year writing another crappy novel. I want to improve. And I think I can do that with short stories. Maybe.

    Or, maybe, I need a break from novel writing. Either way, I'm doing it!

  8. #8
    Registered User CharlotteAshley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tmso View Post
    I think you are right, Charlotte. I have improved over the years. I just need to continue on that track. And the best way to do that is to continue writing and continue submitting. I'm with you. Let's do it! Once a month would suit me better. We can report our progress here in this thread?

    At least, I'll report it here. You all are more than welcome to join me.
    Once a month works for me. My short story technique involves doing a week's research, sitting back and letting it rattle around my brain for another week, then splitting out whatever oddness the research has transmuted into over the course of a third week. It's a 2-3 week process but only like 3 days of it is writing... so lots of time for me to continue at my (newly resurrected) novel.

    Crossed Genres has extended the submission period for their QUILTBAG "Fierce Family" issue, so I'm thinking of starting there! Some ideas have been passed back to my lizard-brain already. Go brain, go!

  9. #9
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Oh Phacelia, you're breaking my heart. (I want more Tulon stories and even funnier ones.)

    If an editor does not like a story and thinks the submitter is not a good writer, then the editor sends a form rejection letter. If the editor likes the writing but thinks the story doesn't work for him for some reason or other and he's not that interested, the editor sends a form rejection letter. If the editor likes some of the aspects of the story but the writing doesn't work for him for some reason or other and he's not that interested, the editor sends a form rejection letter. If the editor likes things about the story and/or the writing but feels there are too many deep flaws or the story isn't the right fit for the publication, and the editor thinks he might be willing to look at a revised version of the story or something else entirely from the writer on the chance that it will work better for him down the road, that's when the editor writes the extra paragraph -- as encouragement and useful criticism that might then pay off for the editor in getting a usable story from that writer later. Because otherwise it is a complete waste of time for the editor to do. Nor is it a kindness since no editor knows what will happen with a writer's writing and publication prospects down the line. What it is, is unprofessional and pretentious. You are well quit of this person.

    The one write, one sub thing wasn't something Bradbury invented, though he was quite good at it and talked about it. It was the system that nearly all of the writers used in the post-WWII era of magazines up until the 1990's, when magazines lost their wholesale market and online mags were the wild, wild west frontier. Writers of the 1950's-1970's would routinely talk about having envelopes ready; when a story came back rejected, they would slip it into the new envelope and send it out again the same day. They wrote stories not just for SFFH magazines but dozens of other magazines -- True Confessions, men's mags, westerns, comics, mystery, whatever might pay. (Somewhere out there is an erotica novel written by Ursula Le Guin, because they all tried their hand at one since they paid well.)There was even a theory that 12 was the magic number -- that the odds were good that you'd get a sale on the twelfth story you sent out or the twelfth submission of a story, etc.

    The magazine market has changed (though the pay rates have not.) Editors don't work as much with writers, or cultivate them as much as they used to, they are less likely to publish things rough in style just to see if it will stick to the wall as an interesting concept story. So trying to send out one story a week, without a lot of revising to it, may not be the whole goal to the thing. But the idea of trying to write a lot of stories, work on them and then keep sending them out obviously helps and hundreds of writers used to do it. It's a trick I haven't been able to pull off (my writing time got double k-oed today,) but I certainly encourage anyone to try it if you can. It's not like it's going to hurt you if it goes wrong.

    Neil Gaiman is unfortunately facing the upcoming loss of his ill, very old cat, Princess, but in talking about that, he also talked about things he's talked about before on writing which are relevant to what you are thinking about: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2013/0...n-writing.html That's a damn sight better advice then what you got from that editor.

  10. #10
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    Nice to know the history behind the "write one/sub one" thingie. I'll edit before sending anything out, of course, but I do think those writers were on to something. For me, it's not about the acceptances or playing the odds of getting accepted, but the act of trying to improve what I write with each new piece.

    I'll check out Neil's post later today. He always has great advice. Thanks, Kat!

    @Charlotte - I saw that Fierce Family announcement some time ago and didn't think I could make the deadline. I'll check out Crossed Genres submission guidelines and try. Thanks!

    EDIT: Oh, for the benefit of all, here's a snippet of what Neil had to say:

    Last edited by N. E. White; April 29th, 2013 at 03:20 PM.

  11. #11
    Registered User CharlotteAshley's Avatar
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    Re: this, Carrie Vaughan blogged about rejections today... I feel much better about mine.

    http://carriev.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/rejection-2/

  12. #12
    Where have I been? Moderator JRMurdock's Avatar
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    Oh, the rejection merry-go-round. Some of us know it all too well.

    I wrote 100 short stories one year. Piled up a TON of rejections (more than I'm willing to dig up and count) but I did learn a lot over that year and many of those short stories never saw the light of day. Most never will. Some ideas have popped back in to say 'hello' from time to time, but mostly I wrote them, I'm past them, I'm on to other things.

    Last year I started submitting short stories once again. I had two acceptances. I just got the anthology one short story was picked up for (it's sitting here next to me in fact). Little things like that will keep me going even when I look at my current list and realize that many stories have been out circulating for over a year. I have, however, been getting a better quality of rejection letter and those rejections have been taking longer and longer to get back to me (longer usually means better, right?)

    In fact, my last two rejections contained verbiage such as...

    "...After reading and discussing it, and then holding onto it through several rounds of further consideration..."
    "...After reading and discussing it, and then holding it over for further consideration..."

    so I know I'm knocking on the door to that market with my last two rejections. I got no actual feedback and honestly didn't expect any. I've since sent that market that I've also gotten similar response for and hopefully this time it'll stick.

    But to answer your question, my current process is this..

    1) Write the story
    2) Let the story sit for a minimum of 30 days (unless it's for a time sensitive submission like an anthology)
    3) Re-read the story and edit if needed
    4) Send to friends for critique and editing
    5) Re-read the story and apply edits/fix critiques
    6) Find a likely home (study who you're submitting to)
    7) Write a very short letter to the editor referencing that editor by name if possible (adding comments that shows you read the criteria on their site is a plus )
    8) Send the story out and wait
    9) Get a rejection, read the story, edit if needed, repeat steps 6-9 as often as needed.

    I honestly recommend reading your story every time you get a rejection. There may be something you missed, your friends missed, and it just gives you a chance to see if you still think that story is your best effort. Perhaps your writing has improved to the point where you do NOT want that story out there representing what you're capable of doing. There's no shamein trunking a story or dropping it on your blog or posting it here for people to read and move on to something else.

    Yes, keep submitting. Yes, keep writing. Yes, keep repeating that process.

    P.S. My current rejection folder for the past year and a half has 63 rejections for 7 short stories.

  13. #13
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    Great advice, JR. I will heed it.

    But it is not the rejection, or the comment received, but the fact that I really didn't think it I was *that* bad. It made me realize I need to write more and strive to improve even more so than my current efforts. Thus, write one/sub one!

    Any one who would like to join us, please do!

  14. #14
    @PeteMC666 PeteMC's Avatar
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    Of course in Bradbury's day there were a lot more places you could submit to than there seem to be these days (that would actually pay you, anyway). I'm curious where you guys are submitting your short stories to - to amass that many rejections you must be sending to a lot of places!

    Admittedly I don't write much short stuff as I'm concentrating on novels, but I'm struggling to find anywhere worthwhile to send the shorts I have got out there.

    And tmso, you know damn well you can write

  15. #15
    Registered User CharlotteAshley's Avatar
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    Pete, I currently have four stories out: one to Fireside Magazine, one to Electric Velocipede, a third to Sword & Lazer, and the last to Dark Discoveries. I use Ralan to find markets for the most part, but also follow a lot of editors & publishers on Twitter, and they pass on calls for submission all the time!

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