Monday, May 28, 2012

Rejection: The Movie- This time it’s personal

A few weeks ago I noted that I was close to getting my 100th rejection. I got it early last week. I thought it would be a big deal, but in truth I was so busy with writing and deadlines that the event barely registered and it wasn’t long before I got another rejection anyway, further diminishing the one that came before it.

But now that I have a little bit more time I can roll out some stats.  I’ve been writing seriously since about the spring of 2009. And when I say ‘seriously,’ I mean varying degrees of seriousness. In 2009 I made two short story submissions (and got me first two rejections). In 2010 I made five submissions, doubling my submission rate for the previous year and also getting me my first acceptance. In 2011 I started taking part in Write 1 Sub 1, and drove my submission count up to 60 submissions for that year (and getting three more acceptances).

So far in 2012 I’ve made 58 submissions. I’ve almost matched my submission count for 2011, and it’s not even June yet. Sure, I haven’t sold a story yet this year, but if my past stats show anything, it’s that it’s only a matter of time before I sell a story. And even if it takes a while, I’m also just pleased with how much more productive I am when it comes to writing.  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Link: How to Write Flash Fiction article in The Guardian

Last Monday there was an article by David Gaffney in The Guardian about how to write flash fiction. There was a lot of good insight in it, and I encourage writers to check it out:

One of my favourites was his note about making the title work for a living. When you only have 1000 words, the title can be a godsend- it's like getting two or five or seven words scot-free! I also liked his bit about making the last line ring like a bell. Flash fiction is often compared to telling a joke, in that you've got to have just the right amount of set-up and a killer punchline. A solid last line can turn a vignette into an actual story.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sometimes I Steal Ideas from my Five-Year-Old Brother

Yesterday I was sitting in my parents' living room with my brother and sister when our five-year-old brother came downstairs.

“I am a robot,” he told us. “I know everything.”

“What’s two plus two?” I asked the robot.

“Easy,” he replied. You would think that if you knew everything there would be no easy or hard questions, just questions, but whatever. “It’s four.”

“What’s five plus five?” my other brother asks.

“Ten,” the robot replies confidently.

“What’s the square root of 16?” my sister asks. The robot narrows his eyes. We stare at it, waiting for this all-knowing machine to tell us the answer.

It sighs. “Well, I guess I have to do this now.”

The robot pulls out his toy lightsaber and slaughters all three of us.

There is a story idea in there somewhere, I’m sure of it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My Kingdom for a Stamp

I’m very close to getting my 100th rejection. Yay! Almost time to order the cake (I’m picturing a black forest cake with those little number candles. Mmmm.)

Out of those ninety-something rejections I’ve gotten only a handful of them were postal submissions. Most of my stories have been submitted through e-mail or online submission systems. I like living in a digital age: with e-mail I get almost immediate confirmation that the magazine received my story and sometimes even a tracking number to see how far along in the queue my story is.

The other thing I like about e-mail submitting is that it costs me nothing. I don’t have to buy paper or ink or worry if my printer is going to conk out on me. I don’t have to use an envelope and go to the post office to mail it. I don’t have to include a self-addressed stamped envelope in order to hear back about my story.

Ah, the SASE. A bit of a tricky business when you live in Canada and most of your markets are in the U.S. Canada Post is not allowed to sell U.S. stamps (or any other country’s stamps for that matter besides Canada’s) so on top of paying the two bucks it takes to mail my submission I also need to buy an International Reply Coupon for five dollars, which means that each postal submission costs me $7.00 to mail (and that’s before factoring in cost of paper and ink).

It’s a shame, because there are a lot of markets I like that only accept postal subs. I’d love to submit stuff to Fantasy & Science Fiction as often as I do to Asimov’s and Analog, but the cost has always made me hesitant. I’ll grit my teeth and do it, but it hurts.

I needed American stamps. I quickly came up with two plans of action: 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Brief Interlude

For such a long day I got very little writing done.

I woke up around eight. After a shower I go online and see what the Shock Totem prompt is for this month's flash fiction challenge. As always, it's a good one and I get five ideas right away. I mull it over as I take the bus downtown. Driver gives me an extra long transfer ticket- instead of cutting me off at 12:30, I have until 1:30 to make the round trip. Score! When you're pinching pennies even a free bus trip becomes reason to celebrate.

I get to the library in time to meet up with the lady who runs the adult literacy program. We talk for an hour about what it means to be a tutor. I'm pretty excited about this: for such a small commitment (two hours each Thursday) I could have such a huge, positive impact on someone's life. Plus, as a volunteer at the library, I don't have to worry about late fees. No late fees. So I get to do interesting, rewarding work, help somebody improve their life, and I don't have to worry about a five dollar fine if I keep those Project Runway season six DVDs out for a few extra days? This is great! Sign me up!

It's a nice spring day, so after I load up my backpack with teaching how-to books I go sit on bench. I'm eating my apple when I feel my phone buzzing in my coat pocket.

"Hello, is this Shannon?" I recognize the voice. Last week I had a interview at my old University about being a don. A don is basically like a den mother or an R.A. They live on campus and help out the students living under their supervision. I really wanted this gig. On one hand, I'd be like the most awesome big sister ever to those kids, caring but keeping them in line. On the other hand, it would be like being a writer in residence. As a don you don't get paid, but you do get a place to live and all the cafeteria food you can eat. With my essentials covered, I'd have the whole day to write.Maybe when I was feeling especially whimsical I could pretend that I was the writer-in-residence in Paris living above Shakespeare and Company. When I looked out the window I wouldn't see a boring city street but the river Seine and the Notre Dame. 

But I can tell from the voice that my little daydream is as far away from me as Paris is.