Quick Writing as a Lesson

strunk and white have a posse

Image by lauraholin via Flickr

Daughter has the writing bug (can you say “Mary Sue?” I knew you could), in part because of inspiration from our Reading Selections mentioned over at Willow and Birch.  Unfortunately, she has very little awareness of how writing is formatted, and her first short story for our reading selections group came out as a series of pages-long blocks of text without differentiation between speakers or actions.  So tonight, while she was working to correct paragraph indentation–and still struggling–I began writing in a .txt file for her to see how to do it in process.  What I wrote:

“Hi there,” said the editor.  “Let me see your manuscript.”

“Oh, uh, hi.  Well, I’ve got a copy here, just ignore the coffee rings on the corners there, I, uh, well, you know . . .”  The writer ran a nervous hand through his hair, and clutched his valise.

The editor took a three second glance before lifting his eyes to the writer.  “Thank you for presenting this manuscript to us, but it’s not right for us at this time.  Good luck finding a home for it.”

“That’s it?”  The writer gripped the discarded first chapter of his magnum opus.  “Aren’t you even going to tell me what’s wrong with it?”

The editor was already on another task and did not look up to answer.  The writer stood over the editor’s desk for several angry breaths before deflating.  He quietly stuffed his unwanted story back into his valise, gave a nod and a half-whispered note of thanks to the editor for his time, and left the building.

While I was in the midst of writing the editor’s last line, Daughter said, “That’s what an editor said to you recently, didn’t he?”

*cough, cough* “Yes, dear.”

I have recently submitted five poems for a book publication, but was not one of the three poets selected to be published, as well as two erotic short story contests, one of which received a reply similar to the one above.  As I’ve said before, I receive very polite, handwritten (or personalized) rejection letters.  The erotic anthology, to which I am still looking forward to reading, received a reply that read (with various edits of my own out of respect for the editor and his privacy):

This was a hard decision, as there were a number of things I liked about your story.  Unfortunately, it just didn’t have the right feel for what I was seeking.  It’s a well-written, erotic story, but I don’t think it would fit in with the anthology as it’s come together.  Thus, I’ll have to pass on it.  Good luck finding a home for this elsewhere.

So polite, but wait.  Was that a back-handed compliment at the end?  Ouch.  Ah well . . . maybe I wasn’t cut out to write erotica.  I’ve been told the hot parts are HOT, but I’m wondering if I’m not giving enough lead in.  Of course, word count restraints like the ones at SEAF (I didn’t enter this year, because I had nothing I could reasonably cut down to 1500 words and still retain a sense of progression) do make things more complicated.  I like the 2,500-5,000 range most of the time, although my most recent submission to a different anthology barely made the word count mark.  Now I’m worried I didn’t add enough lead in, didn’t seduce the audience enough before getting to the yowsas.  Eventually I’ll learn.

Meanwhile, my mom has made some suggestions on where to send a long-time lonely short sci-fi story I wrote years ago that’s gone through several revisions.  I finally think it’s ready for print, it feels right, it gives a bit more to the audience I had taken for granted (knowing everything about the world as I do) in the first few rewrites, and I’m finding myself shy of sending it out.  I want someone to like it, know what I mean?  But it’ll never get published if I don’t dress it up and send it out to play with the other shorts in the world.

Unless I take over the publishing world . . . mwhahaha– Uh.  But that would be cheating.  Right.  Then.  Um . . . back to work.

Oh, and by the way, I’m feeling awfully good about my recent education articles over at eHow (see Facebook, Twitter, or LiveJournal for updates).  It’s nice to have things out in the world with which I’m proud to have my name associated.  (It’s just weird having to play comma shy as required by AP style.  Much prefer Oxford and APA and MLA styles of comma usage.  Comma!)


2 responses »

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Quick Writing as a Lesson | Never's Remedy, As Seen on LJ -- Topsy.com

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