Tag Archives: submit for publication

Space Controversy

I read an article today about double-spacing behind a period and, I have to say, I didn’t know how prevalent the new rule had become. As I considered the reason for it – stemming from the change in technology from the monospaced characters of typewriters to the proportional spacing of computers – I realize it makes complete sense. The vast fonts and styles of the computer age lessens the need for hard and fast rules for affecting readability. I read newspaper articles and word processor submissions and see how unnecessary a second space is. Sure, I’ll give you that.

But change is hard! I, myself, have never been especially good at it, and certainly not when the change involves something that I’ve only ever learned one way of doing.

Usually, I’m resistant to change. For instance, while I am happy to read the occasional article online, I am in no hurry to give up printed newspapers, books, and magazines in favor of a handheld device for all my reading. I also will not bow down to popular word usage and grammar exceptions simply because enough people use their first language incorrectly. (It doesn’t matter how many dictionaries include it, “irregardless” is almost always noted as “nonstandard” or “incorrect” usage. It’s definition tells you it’s wrong. Stop it!)

But in the case of the double-space (hee hee, rhyming is fun), I claim the old but true adage, “Old habits die hard”. Even now, as I type, I am making a very conscious effort tot only tap the SPACEBAR once. And it feels wrong.

After typing for so many years, and increasing my QWERTY speed such that I don’t even recognize what keys I’m hitting, I struggle to stop long enough to actually realize that, not only did I just tap the SPACEBAR twice in quick succession, but I also used TAB to indent this paragraph, which is also unnecessary. This changing of the times, while understandable, is going to require a lot of BACKSPACE.

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Filed under literacy education, publishing, writing, writing rules

Everybody Has A Story

Recently, I’ve read several articles about personal essay writing.  They’ve ranged from writing tips to how to get your personal essay published.  Now I don’t know if any of my readers are this way, but when I repeatedly run into the same theme across several different mediums over at least a few days I will usually succumb to the inspiration.  In this case, I did, and I am inviting you to share in the inspiration with me.

My theory is that a personal essay is the best practice you can do as a writer.  While it is important to exercise your imagination by coming up with new stories, that creative measure can be distracting.  If your intent is to practice your wordsmithing, what better place to begin than in your memory.  We know our own stories, certainly better than someone else’s and even better than those we could make up since we haven’t actually made them up yet. It seems to me an ideal way to play with narrative – description, dialog, and character – since you know the whole story so intimately.

So, I challenge you to pick an event – big or small – from your life and write it.  The only recommendation I would put forth is to make sure the event you choose is one that was transforming in some way.  Like any good story, your main character should be dynamic, and, in this case, that main character is you.  Feel free to come back and share your experience in the comments.  Let us know if you seek publication!

Enjoy!

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Filed under life of a writer, writing

A Writer’s Journey: Submissions – Part 2

So there you are, sitting in front of your computer (because whether you write by hand, or typewriter, or computer, you should at least have everything backed up) looking through the files of all the work you have. It’s probably a lot, right? A bunch of poems out of that blank book you always have in the bag you carry everywhere. Unfinished works that you just can’t seem to pick back up, no matter how hard you try, and are considering starting over entirely. Stories that you’ve spent so much time with, writing, editing, revising, rewriting, reading, and rewriting again, that you almost hate them now. Maybe, you’re like me, and have kept all the college work you did including English papers, research abstracts, and essays based on other thinkers’ ideas. If you are like me, then you probably have upwards of 100 to 200 works all set up for submission.

And now you’re laughing.

You’re laughing because none of that is anywhere close to submission ready. Of the probably 100+ works I had (arguably) ready to go when I made my first forray into the submission process, I only felt confident in about seven. The rest were simply bad. I didn’t feel good about how they sounded, and I didn’t have the time, or more truthfully, the motivation to make them better. So, naturally, I had to give up when I exhausted my seven golden tickets, discovering that what is “golden” is subjective. It never occurred to me to write new work, because I was in one of my slumps with short work.

What kills me about that is, I’ve now gone back and looked at my old work – pieces I had then, and things I’ve written since – and it’s not all bad.  As a matter of fact, some of it is really quite good in my estimation, and that’s saying something since like any artist my own work is what I’m most critical of.  But with a couple of tweaks here and there I may have as many as ten or twelve decent poems and at least one short fiction.

But even better than that, I am writing consistently again.  Inspiration has been a fairly constant friend of late, and as long as I’m riding that wave I might as well write some new stuff.  Sure, there are ideas for stories (and novels) that are floating around in my mind, and periodically on the paper, but I forget that creative writing is not just fiction and poetry.  There is a whole world of creative nonfiction out there that I have only just begun to tap, thanks to wordpress and all of you who are so kind to visit here and read.

And so, with old work to edit and perfect, new ideas, new strengths, and new genres to explore, I am jumping in feet first to submitting.  My first attempt will be creative nonfiction, something I’ve never considered even trying to be good at.  But what is the point of all this writing that I do if no one ever sees it.

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A Writer’s Journey: Submissions

I have been describing myself as a writer ever since I started getting really lucky and fluid with the work on my MS. Something clicked for me when I joined the writing group that helped me put into perspective how to tell the story I wanted to tell, and from that point on writing became so much easier for me. As a result, I do not only have my MS to tout, but a few other short pieces and some poetry too.

At some point, after I’d finished my MS’s first draft, but before I decided to revise, I began looking at some of my short works, and trying to submit them to magazines and contests for publication. Members of my writing group had been published this way, and I thought, “Why wait for a novel to get published when I’ve got some perfectly good work sitting on my hard drive?”

I naturally became much more critical of the work that I had, but still found some pieces I felt were worthy of submission (that I wasn’t embarrassed by) and found places to send them. Unfortunately, I never did get anything published, but truth be told, I really didn’t try that hard either. I spent two or three months, sent maybe five pieces out, and then got wrapped up in living, or maybe that was when I went back to editing my MS. I can’t really remember. Regardless, I gave up on submitting without giving it (or myself for that matter) a decent fighting chance.

Well, now I’m starting the submission process over again, and this time I will not be giving up so easily. I’d like to say, “I won’t make all the same mistakes again”, but the reality is the only mistake that I made was giving up too quickly. I wasn’t inspired to write any new work, and I exhausted all the decent work (I thought) I had. I also didn’t feel comfortable without clear rules, and I didn’t want to break any so I didn’t take any chances. And then there was my complete lack of understanding of copyright and resulting paranoia.

Now, since it was this blog that got me writing everyday again, and has encouraged my efforts going forward, I’ve decided to share with my readers my journey of submission. My hope is that it is helpful to those of you who, like me, are unfamiliar and wary of the process. And for those that have ridden the submission/rejection superhighway, I hope it will give you a place to share in the experience. I look forward to your comments, thoughts, and stories, and as always, I thank you for taking the time to read.

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Filed under life of a writer, publishing