Recently I took a job as a high school English teacher.
It sounds like the perfect job to support one’s personal writing, because of all the time off–but it isn’t. Most of that time off is eaten up by grading, planning, and dealing with administration and parents. So this job has been eating up most of my spare time. Getting the Masters that led to this job has been similarly time-consuming.
This is why I haven’t really been updating here, or doing nearly as much personal writing as I would like to. I’m told that it gets easier to manage your time once you’ve been teaching for a while, and that many people are able to write on the side,but so far I haven’t seen the light at the end of that particular tunnel.
What I’ve been doing instead of writing fiction is trying my hand at poetry. While poetry is certainly difficult, it is less time-consuming to complete a finished poem than it is to complete a finished short story, and certainly to complete a novel. There are fewer words involved, and the attention to how those words sound and play off each other is important in both. I’m still not writing as much as I’d like to be, but unfortunately right now teaching needs to be my priority.
Poetry has resulted in a few dents in my publication hard hat, though!
Recently 1 over the 8 published two of my poems, Ecosystem Engineers and Like This, last month. EE is vaguely about a long-term, former relationship (I know I know) and Like This is about catastrophic thinking and anxiety. 1 over the 8 is a great publication that I’m proud to be a part of. They don’t just publish poems in English, they also publish them in Macedonian, Bengali, Danish, and more. Plus, they publish your work as soon as it’s accepted, since they don’t have “issues”, they have an ever-growing repository of good poems. They also got back to me almost immediately after I submitted, which is wonderful.
That’s not all though! I woke up this morning to a message from The Hopper Review, a new publication set to launch sometime this September. My poem, Cityscape, is going to be part of their inaugural issue. It’s about the NYC subway, which, as a lifelong New Yorker, is the backdrop of my existence. I’ve been shopping the poem around for a while now, and I’m so happy that it’s finally found a good home. I’m also very excited to see what else is in the first issue.
Well, back to lesson planning (and hopefully a little more writing). Have a great week everybody!
I recently submitted Angelhands to Clarkesworld Magazine, a fantasy/sci-fi magazine. After submitting, I discovered something truly amazing about this magazine. I’m not talking about the content, which is entirely excellent, and which you can check out on your own. No, I’m talking about that little word circled in red on my poorly-done MS Paint edit above. If you can’t see it, the word is queue.
A queue. Can you believe it? This is a magazine that tells the reader exactly when it can expect a response, and lets you track the progress. How cool is that? I’ve been submitting my work for about three years now, and I’ve never seen anything like that before. I’ve seen submission managers that let you check on your story, but all they ever say is “received”, “accepted”, or “declined”. There’s no in-between. I never expected any kind of in-between. Until now.
When I first submitted my story, two days ago, it was #66. Now it’s #38. Therefore, I can reasonably assume that I’ll be getting a reply in the next few days. Because this magazine doesn’t accept simultaneous submissions, this is important to know. The more information that I have to aid my planning, the better.
This queue is fantastic, and I thank Clarkesworld for providing it. Whether or not you accept my work, you guys are rocketsauce awesome.
Angelhands, a story about Natalie Heidelmann, a girl with the ability to make people sick by touching them, has just been rejected from Asimov’s Magazine. This is after being rejected from Daily Sci-Fi and The New Yorker. Unlike some my stories that were widely rejected, I have yet to come to the conclusion that the work isn’t good enough. I still believe in the quality of this story. I just haven’t found a home for it as of yet.
I’m not sure what angle to take with it. So far, I’ve been submitting to paid markets. I don’t know why, I guess I was feeling ambitious. The fact that I want money could also be a factor. The New Yorker was obviously rather unlikely. The other two were both difficult to break into, but I thought they were worth a shot because my story can be categorized as sci-fi. From here, I’m not sure where to go. Do I keep trying with paid markets, or is that an exercise in futility? Do I keep trying with sci-fi markets, or do I send it to mainstream literary markets?
Sigh sigh sigh. All is complexity and woe.
1. Did I seriously just change the word “milk” to “chocolate milk” because it’s one extra word? God, I’m desperate.
2. Who would my characters have voted for? Almost all of my POV characters are 13 years old…the only adult would definitely have voted Democrat. Dude grew up in Brooklyn, what else do you expect
3. Is it even possible to have a title before you’ve finished writing? Don’t titles stem from themes or important bits that you don’t know about before you start?
4. Decided to jump on the elliptical to see if I could jump-start my lazy brain and get some ideas. I got an idea, but it’s for a Naruto AMV that I’m never going to make because I don’t have footage. Some help that was. Oh well, at least my heart appreciates it.Is it cheating if I don’t deduct “Part 1, Chapter 4”, “Part 2, Chapter 1” and so forth from my over all word count?
5. Apparently, Sol’s need to use the bathroom is extremely important and worthy of spending multiple paragraphs describing. So is Kenny’s concern about what kind of pizza Andrew eats. Self, this story has a murder in it. Priorities much?
7. I just misspelled “cranky” as “crankly.” Now I want “crankly” to be a word.
8. Apparently, I forgot to decide what any of my characters look like except one, Austin. Austin was the template, so his stats appear under every single character. Austin is 6’3 and 200 pounds, he has a beard and he has sideburns. This description appears under Nanette, a four-year-old girl. Yup.
9. Writing two scenes at once is a good thing. I’ve found that being bored while writing is not always a sign of bad writing, it can be a sign of being partially brain-dead as a consequence of staring at the screen all day. As such, being able to flit between scenes is really helping.
10. When I finish my goal for tonight, I’m still going to be a day behind. I just can’t stare at the computer screen anymore, and I need to make dinner. My eyes are killing me, and my stomach is growling. 500 more words.
11. Self, stop listening to Clumsy by Our Lady Peace. That song is your inspiration for Little Bloody Rivers, not this new story. You’re going to start writing about Rue and Kit if you keep this up, and you’re supposed to be writing about Kenny, Andrew, and Sol.
12. I’m 30 words away from 10k, and I’m totally checked out. Oh, and that’s the goal for yesterday, but it’s all that’s going to happen today. Ugh. Maybe another line about Sol needing to go to the bathroom?
13. 10K 10K 10K!!!
During a fiction-writing class I once took, the teacher advised me to get my name out there before even thinking about submitting a book for publication. Getting my name out there meant, of course, getting my work published in literary journals.
I’m taking her advice. My current goal is publishing ten short stories before I think seriously about polishing and submitting one of the various novels languishing on my hard drive. Why should I put in so much effort, and wait so long, though? Well, here’s what my teacher said, and a bit of my own thoughts on the matter.
- Agents and publishers would be more likely to be willing to deal with you if they knew that other publishers have dealt with you before. They assume that if their colleagues have put up with you long enough to publish you, then you must be professional and easy to work with. When you’re just starting out, you definitely want publishers to think that you are those things. Your actual self-presentation will have to do most of the work here, but being able to say, “hey, these dudes think I’m cool too” won’t hurt your case.
- Not only will previously published work make you look mature and awesome, it will also make your writing look worth reading. If a publisher, who gets hundreds of submissions a day, gets a random submission from someone who’s never been published before, she has to actually read the thing to know if it’s good or not. Which she might not do. If you’ve been published, that means someone liked you enough to publish you, which means you are worth her valuable time.
- It gives you more time to get experience and improve your work. If you’re a beginner, that novel of yours probably needs more work, anyway. Even if you think it’s perfect right now, time and experience will show you how to make it more than perfect.
- Your stories are definitely, definitely going to be rejected, but if you’re paying attention to who rejects you and who accepts you, you’ll get a good sense of where your work belongs. The more you know, the better chance you have of getting something big published, like a book.
Being a beginner myself, I have no idea if this actually works, but hey, it looks good on paper. So far, I’ve got three stories out, and once I hit ten, I’m going to start trying to find a publisher for one of my various novels. And also editing those novels. Because that’s important, too.