Saturday, 26 January 2008

Thirty Percent

While I'm writing this the third chunk of the novel is printing out for a final read-through. If it makes it past my inspection then I'll be 30% of the way through my second draft which feels a lot better than being 0% but not as good as, say, 70%.

I've found a small source of inspiration to keep on plugging away at it from Neil Gaiman's journal.
There's a big section on the archive harking back to when he was going through the final stages of writing American Gods which i think has one of the best beginnings to a novel ever. The journal only begins once it's actually been picked up and now he's going through the copy-edited manuscript and the reason it doesn't go back sooner, he says, is that it would be a very boring read.

"Feb 13th: wrote some stuff. It was crap."
"Feb 14th: wrote some brilliant stuff. This is going to be such a good novel. Honest it is."
followed by
"Feb 15th. no, it's crap"
and so on.

Which I can really relate to but makes me wonder about writing this blog... Hmmmm...

Anyway, I'm also ill. Those first few days of a cold when it really nails you so I've been sleeping quite a lot which is annoying. I've got pages to edit, dammit! And I've got to get dressed and do the shopping because I've got no food.

Oh, what a hard life I have! Writing and I have to go buy food! People in the third world have it so lucky!

Right, perspective-giving sarcasm over, I need sausages.

Monday, 21 January 2008

The Subtle Art of Being Rejected

Mixed feelings today.

Those of you with the canniness to read the title of today's post can probably already hazard a guess about what I'm going to be talking about.

Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine rejected my story Of The Father with a semi-polite slip of paper informing me that the story didn't really 'grip them' but urging me to continue sending my stuff to them. Pretty standard fare for a rejection note really and it has been added to the pile.

Murky Depths then wrote in soon after to, this time by email, to tell me that they too were going to pass on a story I sent them, RWBW, but with a more interesting response.

A bit of background needed here, I think.

I sent Murky Depths the story Contract a few months before, they rejected it but the editor who took the time said 'You have a gift for dialogue and I'd like to see more of your work.' Very encouraging, I grinned for about a week and told anyone who would listen (that's a lie, I just told everyone) what they had said.

With RWBW I tried to Utilise My Contacts in the Industry and sent the story straight to that editor instead of to their submissions email address. A month went by and still I didn't hear anything, their promised response time is 4 weeks. I chased but still received no reply until I sent a strong worded email to their submissions email. Not too strong worded just a 'look guys, still not heard anything, going to have to assume its a no' type message.

I got a reply quite quickly from Terry Martin the Managing Editor telling me that I'd been wrong to send it straight to an editor and should use the submission email like everyone else. So much for utilising contacts, I thought, feeling a bit of a prick. He did say though that he was feeling kind and would put my story at the top of the slush pile and I would hear within the week what they're decision was. That was two weeks ago.

So now they've rejected me and the lateness was understandable as the email came from Terry himself with notes from some of the other editors as the story had been good enough to go around the desks and hadn't just fallen at the first hurdle.

Here's what they had to say:

"This is really good. Very tense, the ending unexpected. Though I'm not sure if the theme is right for MD."

"This one seems to set up the tension well and the ending, though perhaps sudden, is a little different, but I don't know that it's a Murky Depths story."

"This has a good idea, but it takes an awful long time for it to play out. It might be better if the story started with the man coming in. Plus, it's very dialogue-heavy, and a lot of the narrative feels like it's just to pad the dialogue out. I'm not sure it's ready for publication at this time."

So there you have it. Very encouraging and some food for thought.

My only regret when I'm rejected is that really there are so few places to send short stories. There's maybe five big magazines and one story doesn't necessarily suit all of them. So say you have a story that appeals to only one of them, either by genre or subject matter or even word length, then it just takes that one person to reject it and the story feels sunk because you hardly have anywhere else to turn. Does anyone know of any good shorty story mags out there?

It's sad that short story publishing just isn't the industry I've been told it used to be.

But those are the breaks, I guess, I can either piss and moan or get back to work...

Back to work it is.

Thanks for reading.

Peace out.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Allow Myself to Introduce... Myself


So this is my new blog. For the past year or so I've had a blog on Myspace but thought that maybe I should move to having one on Blogger for the following reasons...

1. It reaches more people, not just the people who use Myspace. That's the point of a blog right? Getting lots of people to read it?

and 2. Doing it this way let's my blog screen look like author Neil Gaiman's. Brilliant! It's like being a real writer already.

Anyway, so what am I going to be talking about, some background.

I'm 24 years old, male and live in North London. Ever since I was around 7 I've been writing little stories on and off and adulthood has finally given me some discipline to actually try to write every day and get something published. I thought a blog would be nice to talk about what I'm writing, what I'm learning as I fumble my way through the process and maybe if I make it big then people will be able to look back at this and see what I was like back when I was just starting out.

So we're clear, I have no big dreams of stardom. Well, actually I do, who doesn't? But I'm prepared to take my knocks, I have a neat pile of rejections under my bed and all I really want is to be able to make a living doing what I love and perhaps give some reading pleasure to a few people out there.

Now, time to talk about more current events. At the moment I'm busy working on a novel, a science-fiction (I guess) for young adults going by the name These Twisted Designs. The title's not set in stone, I've changed it about once a month for the past three. This is the fourth novel I've written but the only one I've begun to build up the nerve to consider sending off to agents. The first draft is done and I'm currently stumbling through the vast forest of editing, try to turn my story into a novel.

I've also written a few short stories in recent times, which are currently sitting on the editor's desks of a few magazines. Of The Father (which I think was my best work of 2007) is on it's way to Fantasy & Science Fiction in the US, RWBW is with Murky Depths and Contracts is with Twisted Tongue. I've never been published before. I came close once but the magazine folded before my big debut.

I've also got a load of other stories in first draft form on the back burner but I'll talk on them as and when I get around to completing them.

Well, that's it from me for just now. Thank you very much for spending a few minutes reading my blog, I hope you come back soon and if you ever have questions or comments then please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Peace out, y'all.