On Writing: Rejection

On Writing: Rejection

As any author will tell you, rejection is probably the biggest part of being one of these crazed idiots who thinks that even one tiny iota of the filth we squeeze onto the page from the deepest darkest dregs of our creative subconscious is anything any sane person would enjoy reading.  I trust this first sentence sets the tone.  You will get rejected.  It will happen a lot.  In fact, literally the only response I have received from any literary agent, publisher or independent purveyor of literature in any way shape or form has been rejection.

Ok, quick redaction, I did have a letter to the editor published about 8 years ago, and my first book which was written chapter by chapter for a weekly horror blog was also technically accepted.  Well, if someone taking my work and putting it on their blog counts?  I mean … eh … I guess she didn’t say no?  Anyway, back to the doom and gloom.

Where was I?  Right.  Rejection.  It is my opinion that like job applications these days, there is some secret formula that each literary agent or publisher has that your submission query must meet.  It’s different for every one of them and probably doesn’t have any basis in judging the quality of the work but in some ability of the writer to market themselves.  For me, this is a problem.  I suck at marketing.  I suck at writing synopses of my books.  I apparently also don’t write good query letters.

So where do you go from there?  Well.  You pick your shit up and go again when you feel like it.  One of my issues is that most of my novels are series, so if the first one gets rejected, I have a lot fewer options since nobody will accept resubmissions.  Also, I write multiple genres and many literary agents are very genre-specific.  This is what often makes me think about starting another series.  This is dangerous.

(I’ll probably write another one of these about rejection later.  This one’s kind of all over the place.  Meh.  I’m throwing it out there anyway.)

There’s also one other option.  Self-publishing.  We’ve all done it.  Hell, we’re doing it right now.  Of course, that also links back to what I suck at.  Self-promotion.  But I’ll get to the whole self-publishing debacle next time.  Until then, keep your heads up, your glass full, your fingers on the keyboard and may your loose plot threads tie themselves into perfect twist endings.

On Writing. Being an Author.

On Writing.  Being an author.

I’ve struggled with this for some time and haven’t come up with a real answer that feels legitimate.  What do you have to do to consider yourself “an author” anyway?  Is it as simple as putting pen to page (or fingers to keyboard, whatever) or is there something more?

I rule out being published as a requirement; after all, anyone can technically publish a book these days.  In some cases, folks are publishing books they didn’t even write (thanks lax Amazon Copywrite requirements haha), but regardless making money at it really shouldn’t matter.

I don’t necessarily even think you have to be passionate about it to be an author, although it certainly helps when you’re trying to complete a project.  Hell, I don’t even LIKE being an author at times, but I always come back to it.

Another thought is do you have to complete a project to be an author?  Is that where the crossover between ‘writer’ and ‘author’ is?  This also doesn’t quite fit for me, although I know having the staying power to finish a project is an important part of the equation if you want to be successful.

So I’ve been puzzling over this topic for a while and now that I’ve set it as the topic of my next post I’ve had to think back on my writing and wondering when did I start thinking of myself as an author.  After a couple of shots of Bourbon and some reminiscing about what got me started in the first place, I came up with a rather disturbing realization.

For me, the decision to call myself an author didn’t come from me but came from other people who appreciated my work.  I like to think that I do what I want without letting others influence me too heavily, however after doing some real thinking and a little more drinking about it I really can’t avoid it.

The times when I have most felt like an author were times where I read a review of one of my books or was responding to a comment on a blog post.  Times when people retweeted links to my writing or shared my Facebook posts.  Times when people asked me when the next chapter or book was coming out.  That’s when I most think of myself as an author.

So, for me at any rate, what makes me an author is … well, it’s you.  So, thank you.

On Writing. Process? Or Something?

On writing.  My process?  I guess?  This kind of blogging is new to me, so please bear with me.  Hopefully, this ‘On Writing’ series will help a couple of you who might be authors yourselves.  Or at least make you laugh helplessly at how backward my supposed life as an aspiring writer is.

My first book was based on a recurring nightmare.  The nightmare wouldn’t go away until I finished the book.  The further along the book was, the less sleep I got and the more I started to feel like I was likely going insane.  I wrote the last chapter in a crazed frenzy in the wee hours of the morning after not having been able to sleep for over twenty-four hours.  I call this the Lovecraft process.

My second book series started as a backstory for a beloved Dungeons and Dragons character.  The more she got into my head, the more I had to continue chronicling her adventures.  The darker the story became the more necessary it was to make sure her tale would be told.  I’m still writing that series nine years later.  When things get especially difficult, I resort to whisky.  I believe this is generally referred to as the Hemmingway method.

I don’t really know what made me start writing my third series.  I just had this weird idea and it kept bugging me, so I kept picking at the scab until the story started to bleed out of my brain.  After seven years I’m also still writing this series.  The books are short little bits of cotton candy fluff, kind of like literary junk food.  Totally not serious, absolutely not based in any kind of factual reality, but every time I start reading them to refresh myself with the narrative I end up reading the entire series over again.  This series has been written entirely without inspiration and totally stream of consciousness; I just put the characters in situations and then imagine how they’d react.  I guess there are some happy monsters that live in my brain and damn if I don’t enjoy torturing them.

I truly can’t count the number of stories I’ve begun and quit.  Sometimes after a sentence or a paragraph, but sometimes after ten or twenty pages.  When the idea just refuses to take root, I know better than to try and make it grow.

I have no idea why I decided to write this, but I am going to try and post more content more often and hopefully to give something to the writing community in the process.  If this is at all useful let me know what you want to read about next.

Peace, love and may your characters write themselves.

-Benraven