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, 13 August 2011

Get it Right But, More Importantly, Just Get it.

I was reading the September issue of Take A Break's Fiction Feast when something struck me. No, I wasn't physically hit by anything - it just occurred to me that even though I've read many, many short stories and written many, many short stories myself, I still haven't got a very good success rate with short story publications.

It's a different story with my articles, and that's something I'm very proud of. But in this current climate of the dwindling short story market it means that standards have gone up considerably  and there is a lot more competition as writers fight for the same publication shots. With this knowledge spinning round my head, I had a wobble and I wasn't so sure that my writing could ever be good enough to compete.

I read the excellent stories in Fiction Feast, and the stories in the recent Weekly News and for a panic ridden moment I had convinced myself that I can't do it. There was no way I could write stories that are in the same league as those. Luckily that moment didn't last long as I pulled myself together sharpish and sat quietly for a while, thinking. Then the ideas began to pop into my head - ideas that I can work with to turn into short stories that will be every bit as good as the ones that I've read that I didn't think I could match!

It doesn't matter how many short stories you read, if you don't write them and practice writing them, you won't get published. At some point you have to stop reading short stories for a while and get on with writing them. You also have to stop being intimidated by the excellent quality of the short stories that are published. That is the standard that the editors expect and want, and so that is the standard that you are going to have to produce. It can be done and you can do it. Don't be put off: fear is a great cause of writer's block. You have to feel the fear, channel it, use it to your advantage and write your stories anyway.

Happy writing

Julie xx


Frances Garrood said...

Julie, I hope you don't lose hope. do remember that however good your most recent story, if the magaznes(s) have recently bought a similar one, it won't stand a chance. So much is about fitting in, isn't it. I've been writing - and selling - stories on and off since the 70s, and only recently sold a really poor one to one of the best-knowns mags, presumably because they didn't have a similar one. On the other hand, many of my better written stories have been turned down. In a way you can't win, so just keep writing!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Frances, lots of stories I like are turned down then one I'm not so keen on will sell.

It's a very odd business.

I think you ought to remember too that the writers of those stories get lots of rejects. In my case, skips and skips full!

Jo Styles

(I'm dyslexic, please forgive any mistakes and typoops!)

Julie P said...

Hi, Frances,

It's like shooting in the dark, sometimes, isn't it, subbing stories to the women's mags as we have no way of knowing if they've already received a similar one to what we've written. It feels like a lottery!

Hi, Jo!

We've been discussing this on Bring Back Fiction (Facebook) and we've had some interesting debate about it. The consensus seems to be to just keep on writing and I've said on there that everyone gets rejections, whether they appear regularly in the magazines or they are just starting out and trying to break in. But when you write in a bubble it can be hard not to think that you're the only one who's getting rejections.

I think we all should write more stories and see what happens!
Julie xx

Frances Garrood said...

I think one of the most irritating things is the stock rejection comments: "guessable", "no surprises" etc when no-one could possibly have guessed your staggeringly brilliant ending! Why can't they just say either they don't like it (fine) or they've already published too many like that (also fine). No time, I suppose...

Comforting, though, that we're all in this together!

Julie P said...

This is true, Frances. But I nevr get any cooments - just the standard rejection letters for me, although I did have a big 'NO' pencilled and circled on top of one of the stories that came back! A girl can take a hint!

No-one has any time any more,
Julie xx

Nari said...

Wise words, as ever, Julie. Perseverance and determination are the key, and as you say - we need to use our fear and/or intimidation by other writiers to fuel that perseverance.
Thanks for sharing
Nari X

Julie P said...

Hi, Nari and thank you.

You never know what you might achieve if you just take that leap.

Julie xx