Friday, November 2, 2007


I love this latest photo from Andif. (I've got it "large," and if that messes up you guys with dial-up, and smaller will help, just let me know, okay?) Surely there's a ghost in that photo somewhere. It looks like the opening shot of a movie, doesn't it? Now the camera will pull back to. . .comments.


Nancy P said...

Off to bed. See you boids in the morning.

Today (Friday) was my weekend. Back to work tomorrow. said...

Oh, Rejections. Cathy C, Far, et al.

I think rejections are much more devastating these days than in the days of yore (mine yore, btw). This due to 1. the loss of editorial collaboration by, get this, editors (the way it used to be); and 2. of the across-the-board reliance on agents to guard the gates of entry to publishers.

The only good for the unpublished author in the changes in publishing that I can see is that the INTERNET provides an opportunity to catch a publisher's attention with an available work.

But this requires a different set of skills.

Far, I think what you're doing with Far Future is an incredibly dynamic way to use the internet. I really, really do.

Cathy C, I used to re-submit works under different titles to the same publisher, hoping to get by the first readers (at major publishing companies, you are likely to get a different reader for every submission) and knowing that assistant editors were likely to change jobs every six months.

Can't do that with agents.

Since no one else is here, I'll tell you my 18 Rejections in A Row story. said...

I started taking writing seriously with poetry. I studied it. I lived it. I tried to write it.

Poetry is so much more easily submitted than book-length fiction that all through college and into my real-job adulthood, I amassed a huge collection of rejection slips.

I covered my kitchen wall with them. Floor to ceiling. While still a student, I managed to get a few pieces published in very small literary magazines (most of dubious quality) and in one or two legit literary magazines. Nothing major.

Another ten years and I might have had enough pieces published to justify my devotion to the craft.

The poetry editor (not Plimpton) at The Paris Review marked one of my poems in what would otherwise be a standard rejection, said it needed work at this line, that line, etc., and wrote his name on the rejection slip.

So I re-wrote that piece and resubmitted it with three or four other works. He ignored the revised work and picked one of the newer pieces and marked it similarly.

So I re-wrote that one and resubmitted it with 3 or 4 other works. He ignored the revised piece and picked one of the others and marked it up.

About the fifth time this happened, I began to sense a pattern. I thought the guy was screwing with me. Well hell, I thought, he doesn't know who he's screwing with.

On the 18th submission, still ignoring the revised poem, he accepted two pieces for publication in The Paris Review.

This was a major major thing to me at this time. I was still in college (although I was working on a master's by this time... and would be in place in an m.f.a. program by the time the issue with my poems in it was actually published in 1978).

I was paid $35 a page and since I had two pieces in the thing, my poems carried over to a second page. So I got $70.

As time went on, and with the encouragment of a handful of ficton writers I knew, I moved to fiction -- where I thought my small array of mediocre talents might one day actually make money. Or, you know, result in being read.

18 rejections in a row from a single editor probably isn't a record by any means. Of course, I wasn't being entirely rejected by this editor. He was schooling me, perhaps testing me, but in the main he was showing me how to write a better poem. It took him two and a half years to get me to a place that he believed wouldn't embarrass him should he accept a work for publication.

In the end, I was paid to take his workshop. :-) And, well, this guy knew his stuff, to say the least.

I don't think editors do this much any more. Yet, when a book-length manuscript is rejected by an editor (instead of a first reader, or asst editor) with any comments at all... it might be a worthwhile idea to pay attention to those comments. And perhaps to thank that particular editor for their time and trouble.

They don't have the time and it is no longer their jobs to do it, but some editors still like the idea of helping along a newbie with potential. Or, at least, I like to think they do.

Cathy C said...

Wow, Ghost, you showed amazing determination in continuing to submit your work to that particular editor!

I think it is unusual (nowadays) for editors to take the time to offer specific criticism of a writer's work when they aren't accepting it. But your stick-with-it-ness ultimately paid off and helped you as a writer.

I absolutely agree that if an agent/editor takes time to make comments or suggestions one should at least consider it. A suggestion on my mini-mystery from an editor at "Woman's World" resulted in my making the change and their buying my story.

(Woman's World is a weekly mag. that pays $500. for 1000-word mysteries and $1000. for 1000-word romances)

I've been submitting work for over 10 years, with some success with short stories. And with my novel query rejections, I've definitely paid attention if any criticism was offered. With this round of agent queries for my novel, some of the rejections are accompanied by personal notes with complimentary and encouraging words. They fall into the "good" rejection category. So, I am encouraged.

It's so much better to receive a "good" rejection, than a "No" scribbled across the top of your your own query. But, alas, it is still a rejection.

Thanks for sharing your rejection story, Ghost. It's always good to be reminded we aren't alone in this lonely biz.

Nancy and Andif, the photo is lovely. What could rise out of the midst? Absolutely anything...

(Sorry for my long winded-ness!)

AndiF said...

Cathy, I hate to ruin the mood but the most likely things to rise out of the mist are my dogs chasing something furry that doesn't think playing tag is as much fun as they do.

Happy heavy page counts to all the writers out there and happy lazy weekend to the rest of us.

FARfetched said...

Mornin' y'all!

The camera pulls back… and my dad and I are sitting in lawn chairs, sipping beers & watching the mist. Behind us, Andi's shutter clicks and time stands still oh so briefly, allowing us to see what's in the viewfinder. The birds head across the lake, disappearing into the mist. We look at each other, clink our beer bottles, and settle back to enjoy the view.

I haven't posted anything about my dad on the blog (yet) — I want to make sure I have the details right before I say anything. Right now, I'm just glad he's OK and Other Brother is close by to make sure everything is cool. When I talked to them yesterday, they were on the way to get Dad some new hearing aids… I had to talk to the bro because Dad just wasn't receiving. After getting hearing aids, they were going to head over to Shifty Acres to get him some clothes & toiletry items. "And hair spray!" Dad said, "I like all three of them to stay in place." I'm glad he can joke about stuff....

Ghost, you're up early! Fascinating rejection story. I'd gotten the idea that persistence is key but this drives it home. Thanks for the comments about FAR Future, too… I think it's one of the more ambitious "peak oil porn" writing projects out there at the moment. Around 10,000 words so far, and I have another 30-40 years to cover. :-D

Cathy… that's an incredible word rate — most mags pay like 3 to 6 cents! But you'd need a seriously taut writing style to hit 1000 words, especially for romance or mystery, so you'd *earn* that 50c to $1 per word. Here's hoping the next submission round is the charm and your novel zooms to the top of the charts!

As to the rejection, I would have liked some feedback beyond "didn't quite work for me," but you gotta play the hand you're dealt, right? Kelly pointed me to Weird Tales and their submission guidelines; it sounds like they might offer some suggestions from time to time.

Off to breakfast shortly. Mrs. Fetched has a cold, but nothing stops her from wanting to go to iHOP...

Kelly McCullough said...

Very nice story, Ghost. My record for one editor is thirty shorts. For one story it's 21 markets. I collected 95 rejects before my first sale and 50 more before the second. I at about 10 reject for 1 sale and still getting better. I've only encountered a couple of editors who still edit.

Nancy P said...

Ghost, I knew you'd been published in The Paris Review (wow, sigh), but I'd never known the background of it. It's impressive for several reasons, but I think what impresses me the most is how determined you apparently were to actually learn from the guy. Of course, as you say, he knew his stuff, to say the least. But you were smart enough to take advantage of that.

I love the idea that you got paid for taking his workshop. :)

Nancy P said...

This is one of those times when I wish we had "threaded" comments so I didn't have to leave a big thunk of my own comments one after the other.

Cathy C, one of my first sales was to Woman's World, bless them. They paid $500 then, too, and that was a loong time ago. It's appalling that it still looks like good pay! I didn't know they were still doing mysteries. Hm. I do love the challenge of writing short.

Speaking of rising out of the mist, one of my fav Loren Eisley quotes is something about how things (meaning new life forms or adaptations)are still coming out of the swamp.

Nancy P said...

far, your dad sounds as funny as you are. I love "Shifty Acres," btw.

Mrs. Fetched has her priorities on straight.

Nancy P said...

Hi, Kelly. Awesome persistence.

Morning, Andi. Thanks for decorating my blog. :)

Nancy P said...

Beth!I finally got the pleasure of reading the scene from your novel. What likeable characters! I love the idea of the ghost lover, and I think it's very clever and believable the way you have Sarah reinforce Melanie's denial and fantasy life.

I hope you come back from KW all charged up to write.

Nancy P said...

And far, your latest chapter gave me the absolute willies. It is so much like looking into a "could be" future. Before this administration I wouldn't have believed such a scenario was really possible, but now alas I do. Do you know the site called Urban Survival? It's a semi-strange financial site, but I read it cause he drops bits from the "Time Monks" who are collecting "collective consciousness" data from the internet. One of the patterns they have seen getting stronger and stronger is the mention/prediction of world-wide shortages. Just like in your story. Do me a favor. Don't be right, lol!

Family Man said...

Morning Nancy and everyone.

I've never gotten a rejection because I've never submitted anything. That's one area where I think people with talent (all of you) shine. To keep at it after being rejected, I think, is something I couldn't do. I guess that's the reason all of you are writers and I'm a reader.

Nancy P said...

Hi,family man. The world needs more good readers. :) said...

My record for one editor is thirty shorts.

Kelly, I bow. Deeply.

And stay there. :-)

Kelly McCullough said...

Just got a chance to reread this now that I'm awake. Oy. Maybe someday I'll learn caffeine first, post later.

Kelly McCullough said...

That would be an oy for syntax BTW, I OK with the content.

FARfetched said...

Back finally, it's been a videotaping day, then I cleaned out in front of the dresser. It was BAD.

I think I'm going to make pesto tomorrow. The basil is still thriving; I clipped a handful of seed stalks today for next spring.

Nancy, I'll give Urban Survival a look-see. I'm hoping I'm not right, in the main more than particulars, but right now it's not looking all that great. Oil might touch $100/barrel as early as next week, and I'll be surprised if it doesn't happen some time before New Years.