Julie's Quest

Hello, and welcome to my blog. My blog is about the trials and tribulations of writing, where we celebrate successes and commiserate our near misses. We tell it like it is here and will do our very best to help you on the road to being published and pick you up after the rejections (they will come!) Whether you are a professional or amateur writer you will find something useful here.

I hope you enjoy reading my posts and will visit again soon.

Happy Writing

Julie Phillips - freelance writer - member of the Association of Freelance Writers - member of the Society of Authors

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Inspiration and encouragement

I was reading Womag's post about her going through her stats on what she'd had published and what she's had rejected since she started recording her submissions way back in 2003. Despite her wonderful success now, it hasn't always been the case. She talks about more prosperous periods when she'd sell 8 or 9 over a couple of months to more lean times when she sold nothing and received nothing but rejections for her trouble.

She said that she could have given up in the early days and been discouraged by all the rejections, but, thankfully, she didn't and the hard work she did in those early, difficult years have paid off. She kept at it. She didn't quit. She was determined to get published and she did. It's not easy to carry on when all you get is rejection after rejection. You can feel as though you're running out of options.

I know of what she speaks as I'm in my 'early years' and with my short stories I get rejection after rejection, so I know how she felt. To my shame, I must admit that, unlike Womag, I did quit with the short stories. I mentioned in one of my previous posts that I'd not written or sent out any short stories for a month. One reason was because I was doing quite well with my articles and I wanted to do NaNo. But, if I'm honest, by far the biggest reason was that I was sick to death of getting rejections and had convinced myself that my short stories were a load of rubbish and I was wasting my time and postage money on sending out truly awful short stories that would never get published.

Not a good statement to make from someone who advocates positive thinking and keeping going even when the chips are down is it? But, Womag's post has made me see the error of my ways and that it takes time to get published - she started in 2003, I only began sending stuff out late 2008/ Jan 2009. I am but a mere babe amongst women mag writers! Womag did mention that there are those writers who submit their first ever story to the women's mags and get them published (Julie starts choking and clawing at her windpipe in reaction to people whose writing talent is far superior than hers will ever be!) Don't these people make you feel faint?! But she's not one of them and has gone through the slow burn, rather like I am at the moment. And that's encouraging.

All to often, because we writers tend to write in a bubble - we are not pack animals and we tend to live solitary lives in the mountains of China like snow leopards (I love those cats!) We forget that generally, multiple rejections are part of the pot holed and crumbling, muddied path that all writers tread. You just have to learn to side step the cars parked on the pavement (one of my biggest bugbears - I'm sure car drivers who do this would be irked if I lay in the road so they couldn't get past! But that's a different subject). And wear big clomping boots so you don't slip over in the mud.

So thank you, Womag. You've given me the kick I needed to start thinking about getting back to the short story writing.

Read Womag's inspiring post here


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Martin H. said...


Back in the 80s I was lucky enough to have Alan Bleasdale read some of my material. He was very encouraging. He told me I could write and I should stick with it, but he also pointed out that I should be patient and be prepared to learn the craft.

Some people make it with their first effort, but most writers recognise the 10% inspiration - 90% perspiration route.

So stick with it. Eventually you will break through.

Sky Blue said...

Hi Julie,

I love your blog but you might be about to hate me. I'm one of those people who sent off her first story and had it accepted. Of course, I was convinced that his writing lark was easy and promptly sent off a whole bunch to every magazine I could think of. None were accepted.

I was totally discouraged by the rejections. When I went back to look at my one success I realised I'd accidentally done everything all the books, etc. advise you to do.

I took a deep breath and started again. Over the years I have had more stories accepted but I've also had an awful lot rejected.
I really admire everyone who puts in the work needed to write seriously. When I thought about it I realised I haven't sent out anything for months. I could give a whole list of excuses - work, family, illness - but they are only excuses.

In 2007 I made a new year resolution to send out at least 2 pieces every month. This might not seem a lot but it was do-able for me. Your blog is inspiring me to get back to my 2 a month.

Good luck with your short stories, I'm sure you'll have success soon - who was it said, 'The harder I work the luckier I get'?

Julie P said...

Thanks, Martin!

How lucky you were to have Alan Bleasdale read your work and what a boost to your confidence.

The 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration route is one that appears to be well trodden - so I think I'm in good company!

Onwards and upwards!

Julie xx

Julie P said...

Thanks Sky Blue.

I don't hate you, honest! I only ever had one short story published in an Australian magazine and nothing since (that was back in June!) But as I read Womag's post it struck me that she kept going while I came to a grinding halt.

I had been sending out around 3-4 short stories a week that I'd been working on for some time. I had a rolling programme going where I'd have a book of ideas, some first drfts, some edited into a second draft amd then some at third draft stage and a couple ready to send out. That way I'd always have one sent out and others waiting in the wings ready to send out when the rejections came back.

But for the last month I haven't done any. So once I finish NaNo I shall be back hot on the trail. But I won't try to send so many out at once this time, This was my downfall I think.

I'm going back to the drawing board to analyse the women's mags again and see if I can get at least another one published so that I don't continue to think the one I had published was a fluke!

Mind you I think the forty odd I've written have let me improve my writing style but I know I can do better if I set my mind to it and actually incorporate what I've learned from my analysis into my writing!

Good luck with your short stories too. I think it's good for writers to have a routing and get into the habit of setting a daily, weekly and monthly goal - I think if the goal is realistic and do-able, taking into consideration our other committments then we stand a good chance of completing them. If not for publication then at least for ourselves.

Best wishes

Julie xx

Julie P said...

Thanks Dr FTSE,

I have found the link to your other blog and I'm now following. I'm not a finacial or numbers person and my head was hurting when I read your money blog! So I'm glad you are also a writer!

Suzanne Jones said...

Like Sky Blue, I sold the first stories I sent out...and then nothing for many, many years. Not giving up though.

Great post as always, Julie.


Julie P said...

No, we must never give up! Giving up is not in out writerly natures, Suzanne. One day me and thee and the other struggling writers trying to get their stories in the magazines will conquer them and everyone will say, "God, I'm so fed up of that Suzanne Jones and that ruddy Julie Phillips having one or two stories in all the women's mags recently!"

Oh if only, eh, Suzanne?!! Tee hee.

I'll make a deal: I'll keep going if you will! Oh yes are you still NaNoing?

Julie xx

Julie xx

Olivia Ryan said...

You're right to take heart from Womag's post, Julie. Even those who become successful quickly, often have rejections later like the rest of us! But also, don't be too hard on yourself - you've been busy with the NaNo novel and your articles, so it doesn't hurt to have a rest from the short stories for a while and go back to them later when you feel ready to have another shot. x

Julie P said...

Thanks, Olivia. Yes I'm determied to get back to the short stories after NaNo. Funnily enough, I had an idea for one come to me this afternoon when I was thinking about my short stories! So I've noted it down and I hope I can come with a suitable story around the idea in a couple of weeks.

Julie xx