Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Stick This

When it comes to writing, there are many required tools, such as paper and pen, but there are also many additional tools, which may not be required but that add a lot to the creative process - at least mine.  Currently, I'm working on edits to my Young Adult novel Tales of a Redheaded Sea-Witch.  My required editing tool is a red, purple, or pink pen.  My favourite is purple.  Some preferred editing tools are sticky notes, paper clips, highlighters, and a trash bin.  That last is actually a lie.  I'm a hoarder of manuscripts.  I keep each and every copy of every novel and novel version that I write.  Seriously. I'm running out of room.  And if I ever get the kind of time to be the writer I want to be, I'm going to have to buy an entire house just to have a place to put the masses of paper.  And no, I cannot do all my editing electronically, just like I can't read everything electronically.  I love paper.  I surround myself with paper.  I found these sticky notes at Chapters, and was thrilled to see two of my favourite things come together: paper and paris.  These sticky notes are heaven, they actually make me look forward to the most-dreaded task of editing.  What kind of writing tools do you use?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Little Letter

Today I'm going to come out and post one of the many rejections I've received through the years as I've tried to publish my novels (some short stories and poems were thrown in there too).  Going through my email today, I came upon this one, short and sweet, from and agency I won't name as even rejectionist deserve their privacy, no?  

Every rejections hurt.  And often it's the rejections with all the words that hurt the most.  Or at least that is what I used to think.  Then I worked harder, longer, and learnt more about writing and publishing and decided it is the rejections without all the words that hurt the most, because they don't teach you anything.

So what I'm really going to do, is show two rejections.  One is a rejection of one of my novels, and one is a rejection of a short story.  Which type of rejection do you prefer (if you prefer any type of rejection at all)?

Thank you for your email.  While your project sounds interesting, I don’t think it is right for my list at this time. 

I appreciate your querying us, and wish you good luck in finding the right agent who can successfully champion your work.


Agent XX
XX Literary Agency

(The following is an abbreviated version of the actual letter)

Dear J.E.Hunter

Thank you for sending us your story The Storm.

After a close reading, we have determined that it will not be a good fit for XX Magazine.  There are many reasons why stories get rejected.  We look for the most effective combination of plot, characters, emotion and originality.  Some stories have one or two of these traits, but only a few have them all.

The premise and setting of the story are SF cliches, so you need strong characters and more vibrant dialog to rise above the cliche.  Your opening is a long expository lump, where you tell everything that you should be showing the reader.  And the ending doesn't ring true.  

Yours very truly,

XX Editor

The second letter wasn't dated, but I can tell you that it came back to me a number of years ago.  I'm pretty sure it made me cry.  But now, when I look back at it.  I can see that I took all of those comments to heart, got my butt in gear, read more books on writing, worked with a writer in residence, and practised, practised, practised.  And I am much better for it.  Give me longer letters any day.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Back on the Beans

The past month and a half has been much less productive than I would like.  I blame this on quitting coffee.  When I imagine myself writing, I picture a hot steaming mug of coffee beside me.  I can feel the hot ceramic in my hand, warming my fingers, keeping them nice and loose for typing.
Supposedly, I'm replacing coffee with tea.  Decaf tea.
It isn't working.
I've given in more than once.  Especially in the morning.  But this is always when I'm at my Incredibly Boring Day Job (IBDJ), and by the time I get home the buzz has worn off and there is no way I can have another cup of coffee and sleep at all in the night.  And it's driving me crazy.  But I think I've found the problem:  tea isn't thick enough.  Tea is thin, watery, lacking subsidence.
Coffee is rich, thick, and enveloping.  So is there a better substitute out there?  An inbetween?  Before you suggest it, I can't drink decaf coffee because my problem with coffee is that it upsets my stomach.  Don't even ask about the reaction I get when I combine coffee with garlic.  Yeow.  Let's just say you can hear me for miles.
So tea it is.  Decaf tea.
What's your favorite kind?