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Nothing Like It

  There’s no feeling like it.   Finishing a story that you know is good.   You’re ready to send it to a publisher right away.   But then you hesitate. You’ve received so many rejection notes but each one stabs you afresh when another one comes.   Still, you know this story’s good.   You’ve managed to do something different than you usually do.   Will they, can they appreciate it for what it is? I’ve managed to have thirty stories published—averaging one per every two years I’ve been on this planet.   The rejection numbers are beyond a one-to-one correspondence.   And yet, I know this story’s good. Fiction publishing’s all about convincing some editor you don’t know that you do know.   You know your own writing.   I write many stories that aren’t publishable.   Writing’s that way.   When I do manage a good one I’m like a kid on Christmas morning. It takes thick skin, they say, to be a writer.   My question is should it?   Of course, there are lots of would-be writers out there.   You’d
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Too Much Writing?

  Has this ever happened to you?   Have you written a story that you’ve completely forgot?   Not only completely forgotten, but made unfindable?   I play games with my stories and sometimes the joke’s on me. Okay, I suffer from graphomania.   I write constantly.   I do try to keep organized—I use a spreadsheet that has all my submissions on it.   It has rejection/acceptance dates (mostly rejection).   Lots of information. I decided to list on it every story, whether finished or in process.   There are far too many (mostly in process).   When I finish a story I often submit it.   If I get burned, I’m shy about resubmitting.   I often rewrite at this stage.   Then, when I feel brave enough, I try again. The spreadsheet is color-coded.   There, in the color that indicates finished and ready to submit is a story cryptically titled “The Password.”   I don’t remember this story.   I can’t recall what it was about or why I thought it was ready to publish. Looking through my electronic files,

Fiction Dreams

  I haven’t submitted anything for publication for several months.   Once the courage wears off, after having had some success, it seems that I’ve become thin-skinned again.   Part of the reason, I suppose, is that I’ve had pretty good success with non-fiction. But I really want to write fiction. One idea, and it’s not something I figured out, is that submitting to contests is a good idea.   Somehow knowing that hundreds of others are also trying makes it seem less like rejection if I lose.   I can say, “there were hundreds of others—chances were small to begin with.” I really have no idea how many submissions your typical magazine (print or electronic) gets.   I do know that a number of editors don’t get my style, or what I’m trying to do.   It’s not really horror.   It’s more weird fiction.   But literary. What’s wrong with the literary weird?   To me, the unusual or uncanny is what I’m looking for when I read a story.   I’ve read too many where nothing interesting happens (and yet t

Writing Nook

  When I bought a house (not on any royalties from my writing, mind!) I looked for a place with a writing nook.   In order to work remotely I had to prove that I had a dedicated office since, well, the man doesn’t like competition.   The writing nook was supposed to be separate. This requirement automatically ruled out modern houses.   New houses have no space for books—they’re designed around entertainment centers and home theaters.   We needed an older place.   We found something from the 1890s.   Perfect. I tried writing in our downstairs office.   It’s where my wife put the desktop computer—really, there was nowhere else for it—and it has no room for books.   It’s also very cold in winter. Then I tried the attic.   It’s sufficiently creepy and it’s full of books.   It’s even colder than the downstairs study in winter, however.   And, to get to the bathroom (I write very early in the morning), I have to creak down the stairs and through the bedroom to get there.   Between the cold a

Research Writing

  My current fiction project has me researching.   The best advice all writers give is that to be a writer you must read.   A lot.   I read on an average, more than a book a week.   Roughly half of them are fiction and the others non. I’ve had four nonfiction books published (with a fifth in the editor’s hands).   Writing nonfiction takes a lot of research.   So does good fiction.   Not that it’s ever helped me get my novels published, but should they ever see the light of day, they’re well researched. My novel on Medusa, for instance, was written after teaching introduction to classical mythology three times at a state university.   Indeed, it was that class that led to the novel.   I was only an adjunct, of course, and those with full-time affiliations have it much easier.   I know.   Believe me, I know. Now my research takes the form of books I buy myself, much to the protest of my study shelves and bank account.   All of my books contribute to my research and all of them are used t


   So, as I’m bound down by nonfiction—one down, two to go—I’m still working on fiction.   My current project, beyond about a dozen stories ready to submit, is converting one of my published stories into a novel. I’m a self-taught writer.   I’ve never taken a composition class.   I don’t know the conventions of plotting out a story other than by having read many, many books.   I also know that many classic writers of the western canon weren’t trained writers either.   Our society seems to think you have to have a degree to be able to do anything. While I don’t doubt that degrees help, what is missing is the awareness that sometimes writing skill is a gift. Gifts benefit from development, sure.   Today, however, if you majored in something else and you never prospered enough to afford to get that MFA, you’ll find the establishment a struggle.   All of which is to say, I hope I’m doing this right. I’ve written seven novels so far.   A famous writer I know never took a writing course and


  So, I try to post every weekend.   I’m in the middle of a new novel—well, wait.   I’m at the beginning of a new novel, and I have three promised non-fiction papers to finish.   Then after that, back to fiction. I didn’t post last weekend, however, because the internet went out.   Actually, it was my modem that went out.   Hard to believe that in this day and age it takes 48 hours to get a tech to fix something so damned essential, but that’s the world we live in. I tried to get some writing done since you don’t technically need the internet to do it.   It didn’t work.   A weekend without the internet and with no way to post on my beloved blog.   What’s a struggling writer to do? Come up with ideas, that’s what.   My best ideas come up when I’m doing something unrelated to the actual writing I live for.   Taking a walk.   Taking a shower.   Driving.   At least on the taking a walk option I can write things down.   Or I could if I took my notebook. As a working writer, I walk fast.   I