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

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Lightbulb moment

You know how it is - you've been struggling to get your short stories published for a while, all you seem to get are rejections and you're banging your head against a brick wall. You just don't get it. Just what do these women's mags who carry fiction want from their stories? Sometimes it can be rather like trying to get blood out of a stone.

You read hundreds of short stories until you're sick to the back teeth of reading them (yes, it is possible to have too much of a good thing!) You're also mighty fed up of seeing the names of the same authors occurring over and over again in the magazines. Sometimes you see two or three stories by the same author in the same issue! Why? You  cry. Why oh why couldn't they fine a little room for one of my stories? Surely if they only used one of these authors stories it would free up a little space for me?

You just can't seem to figure out what the editor wants, why other writers' stories are published and not yours, what is it in your stories that displeases yonder editors so? Sometimes there just isn't an easy answer - not one that can soothe your frustration anyway. Simply saying just carry on reading and writing short stories isn't going to cut it with the harried, had enough, doesn't know what to do next or where to go with their short stories, rejection weary writer!

I go through cycles with my writing. I start off with boundless enthusiasm, ideas and inspiration coming out of my ears. Then I write like a writer possessed, edit and sub. Then the rejections come and I weep and wail and gnash my teeth, vowing never to write another short story again. But I do ...... and the cycle starts again. That was until today when I had a light bulb moment with Woman's Weekly. I was reading through a couple of their stories and it was like someone had flipped the switch. There it was in all it's glowing, bright glory. I could see exactly how the writer of the stories had followed the subbing guidelines and had given the editor exactly what she wanted. Hallelujah!

I haven't had that feeling before and so I got very excited about it and along flowed four short story ideas I am now working on and planning to sub to them in the near future. But how many Woman's Weekly stories have I read to get to this point? A shocking amount, that's how many! So my advice to you today is to keep reading those stories, keep reading the submission guidelines, relax, and you might just get your own Woman's Weekly light bulb moment!

Now, I know there's a big distance to travel between my light bulb moment, the inspiration for the stories, writing the stories, editing the stories, re-reading the stories and giving then a final edit, subbing them and getting a yes and seeing them in print. I have a long way to go yet, but I'm on the right road and I'm going to get there and see my name under a story in Woman's Weekly! Oh yes I am - are you with me? Let's crack this market!

Oh yes and a little note about those writers who have two or three stories in the same issue of a magazine - they've earned their space! They've worked hard on perfecting their short story style to give the editor what they want - and you can do it too if you work it hard enough and in the right way - so get reading those stories and get writing them!

Happy writing
Julie xx


Wendy's Writing said...

I feel really bad for saying it but when I had my first story published in WW, I'd never even read the magazine(of course I have now!). Follow the guidelines but not other writers' formulas or your story will seem contrived - it's all too easy to overanalyse what is wanted. My most recent sale is nothing like anything I've read in there, it was just something I loved writing. They really do seem to like twists or surprises - that's my best advice, Julie.

Peter Morris said...

We’ve all been there Julie. The important thing to do is to keep going and to believe in yourself. You’ll get there.

Frances Garrood said...

Obviously we all have to bear the guidelines in mind, but I think the key is to be really original. I have the most success with stories with a more quirky or different slant. My brilliant guidelines-friendly oeuvres often come winging their way back, and then of course I do all that hand- wringing, weeping, gnashing of teeth we all know so well....

Good luck with those lightbulb stories, Julie!

Carole Anne Carr said...

Very good advice, Julie!

Julie P said...

That happened to me with That's Life in Australia, Wendy! To be honest, I get the feeling that half the time the editors don't know what they want until they see it! I'm definitely trying to get a little more quirkiness into my stories.
Julie xx

Julie P said...

Thanks, Peter. Much appreciated. I think keep on keeping on is solid advice!

Julie xx

Julie P said...

Thanks, Frances - I think reading the stories has given me a good grounding - something to build my own style into. I'm determined to get there - but relaxing about it is the way to go, I think.

Julie xx

Julie P said...

Thanks, Carole Anne. I will keep trying. I hope Roy is feeling better.
Julie xx

susanjanejones said...

Hi Julie, love the new design, it's more vibrant, so good luck with your stories. I'm waiting to have my first womag acceptance, it will be this year, I've decided that. We can do it together. Good luck.

Julie P said...

Yay, Susan! Let's go! Hey - would be fab if we made it into the same mag! Julie xx