Monday, April 30, 2007

It's Not Easy

I'm trying to put it delicately, without seeming like a poor sport, that in all of Jason's contests, my name has never even been mentioned. It takes me a couple days each time to get over it. Not only is it a blow to my self esteem, but I think it damages my image with my fellow writers, who at one point may have thought I had some talent.

This isn't a pull for sympathy. It just is what it is. I know for a fact when I enter that I won't be recognized, and yet I put myself out there, telling myself that I don't care, but hoping secretly that this time will be different.

This business, the one that I hope to be part of someday, is all about rejection. I have to be able to take it. But it isn't easy.


Beth said...

Scott, I was wondering where you were when I didn't seen you on my blog. Writing IS all about rejection.

EVERY CLASSIC AUTHOR (the ones most agree count) were rejected by publishing houses. Dickens, Austen, Fitzgerald, etc.

Now it's even harder because every damned person who has a computer and a blog believes they are a writer. And they are, but not in the same way as the masters. And let's face it, most of it stinks. LOL

For what it's worth, I voted for you and a lot that actually won, I didn't. I started to wonder if I'm a sucky critic. Too harsh here, not harsh enough there. I don't know.

I'm completely neurotic. Second guessing and such.

I will tell you ... I submitted one children's book to a publisher years ago, back in the early 90's. When I heard nothing back, I didn't send it out anywhere else ... even though your agent is supposed to send manuscripts to MULTIPLE publishing houses, I was like, "I don't get it. That's a good story. Even without the agent, it should have been accepted by the first place I ever submitted."


Then I thought, "No, I suck. I'm not any good," but you know what? It's all subjective.

Years later (yes, I waited years), I sent a short story to a women's magazine for publication and they hired me as a monthly columnist. I had wanted just to get one piece published and it turned into a monthly gig. I retired from it during life upheaval and haven't submitted a thing since -- and this was again, years ago.

Have I been writing? Yes. Have I found myself an agent? No.

I should have kept going, but didn't. You do.

Writing is subjective. That's why the ones who usually make it are the ones who didn't give up. You have to find that one important person who believes in it, loves it ... or a good agent who could sell condoms to a disease-infested hooker.

And you know what one person loves, another doesn't. People suggest books to me, I read them, and am like, "That positively sucked." I pull one off the library shelf I've never even heard of before and end up loving it.

Many people hate Shakespeare. They're insane people, but they're still out there.

I guess this long, rambling thing is meant to say -- those who write successfully do it for the sheer love of writing. In the real world, there are more critics than cheerleaders.

Write to tell a story that you feel should be told. Write what pleases you. Write what purges pain from your soul, but never write for praise.

Online contests are fun. I enjoyed this one. Yet, just a tiny contest and I was worried about embarrassing myself because I hadn't put in a lot of time in what I wrote. I'm a first drafter kind of girl. It's either there or it isn't.

Still, I didn't want the public scrutiny. Then I had to remind myself this was supposed to be fun, light-hearted, and a way to keep those creative juices flowing. Critiques would actually better my content in the future and all that jazz.

It's like running. You'll never run a marathon if you don't put in the training. Do the short races. Then do some more. You may be dead last, but better to keep on going than to quit.

Hugs to you, my friend. I have a fragile ego. I get it.

Scott said...

Wow, Beth, thanks for the advice. Your check's in the mail. I know all this, and I almost didn't post anything. And just in case or when Jason reads this. just know that I totally get it. Jason is a fair judge and uses a system that he sticks by.

I'm not mad about it. It's just that rejection sort of sucks. Print this post out. When I'm rich and famous, it will be good for a laugh.

And you know what? I do love writing, and that is why I do it. Jason's contest is an excuse for me to do something different than my WIP for a little while, but then I get so wrapped up in it. It's like gambling, or something like that.

magnetbabe said...

Scott, if I had a contest you would totally win!

Scott said...

And if I had a research and development facility, you would be my lead scientist.

Jaye Wells said...

Scott, Look at all the comments you got on your story. People really liked it. That is more important than placing. And before you say, easy for you to say, you placed. Remember that this was my fifth time entering Jason's contest and my first time placing.

Scott said...

Jaye - I appreciate what you are saying. Winning, whether it be an honorable mention, a placement, or possibly best of all, the readers choice, is a huge validation of what you are doing. And I'm just bitching over here, ok? You totally rocked the house with Werewife, and you deserved what you got.

When I got my short story published at Deathlings, that was such a high. Completely whiffing though, five times in a row, is a hard pill. I'm just sharing my frustration.

Beth said...

Scott, I just saw all I wrote. I'm sorry it went on and on and on. Every time I thought of one thing, I thought of another. Anyhow, I should have edited it down. =/ I'm a first drafter though. Can't help myself.

Toni Anderson said...

Scott, you already said it. Get used to it. Let it slide off your back and move on. I'm really sorry you didn't win--but if you really want cynical, what does it matter anyway? Unless an editor really loves your work, or maybe an agent, then IT DOESN'T matter. Nice to put on your CV if you win, otherwise forget it. You know how many RWA contests I've entered (paid to enter) and never won? Neither do I because it is too many to count, and I'm anal.

Suck it up, pet. Writing isn't for wimps. And no way you're a wimp.

But I am sorry you were upset by it. That makes it a sucky day.

Scott said...

Beth, no worries; I appreciate the well thought out answer.

Toni - Thanks for the tough love. Much needed and appreciated.

Alan said...

In my list of bloggers at my place, you will find Alex Wilson. I name him as My Other Hero. He got that title when I first discovered him because he is the most tenacious little writing bulldog you or I will ever get to know. He catalogs every submission and rejection.

As I followed his career, he was accepted at Clarion AND got published by Asimov's (February, "Outgoing").

I think you and he have a few things in common;
1) I'm on your side
2) You both kick major ass at writing
3) You both are tenacious.

So yeah. We'll look back on this and have a good ol' fashioned knees-up. Until then, express away ...

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

I get the same feeling if I have a bad night at the microphone.

To make myself feel better, I try to remember that I play and write because creating something is therapeutic for me, and the approval of others is a pointless goal to seek.

There's no accounting for taste

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry about the sting of this Scott, I truly am.

I hope you all understand that this isn't easy for me either. I'm pulling for all my friends and love nothing better than to recognize them. I'm neurotic enough to score everyone evenly, though. I think people sense that, and that's why folks who are not already friends feel comfortable entering.

I don't like seeing the disappointment this causes, which is probably why I wouldn't make a good editor. However, just as you move on and put yourself out there again, I do also. I think the benefits outweigh the rough patches I deal with.

Ultimately, I don't view these contests as validation, I view them as learning. The worst mistake a writer could make is to win something like my contest, then think they're done, they've made it. If I ever stop learning and pushing myself, I hope someone puts me out of my misery.

Different judges would have different opinions. What you get with me is a terribly harsh look at story delivery. I don't claim to have the only approach, though. I make all the contest results easy to find for anyone who wishes to see how I've judged.

For my part, I thought you had a brilliant idea, and I enjoyed your story very much. Jaye is right. People liked it indeed.

Scott said...

Alan and Toast - Much appreciated!

Jason - Just know that I'm not blaming you, or accusing you of anything. I'm just disappointed, and sharing the experience before it fades, like it always does. Already I don't feel so bad. I probably shouldn't have posted this at all. Thanks for sponsoring the contest, and I'll be there as always when you do so in the future.

Anonymous said...

Sending a virtual *slap*--let's send something to Realms of Fantasy and forget this other stuff. Huh?

mr. schprock said...

Rumor has it you're up for a "Schprockie." Keep your fingers crossed.

Scott said...

MJ - See my comment on your blog.

Mr. Schprock - Man, I feel just like Navan R. Johnson when he found his name in the new phonebook. Wahooo!

Anonymous said...

There were something like 50 other writers that did not get so much as an honorable mention in this contest either, do you think that anyone is really worried about you not being mentioned? I guarantee most of those people have absolutely no more respect for me than they did before (they probably just think that they should have won instead), and no less for you.

Scott said...

Trevor - Not true and so true. I think plenty of people have respect for you now that didn't even know who you were before. But...

I'm over it now. It's just how I feel right after I get my hopes up and get disappointed. It's like a drug that's hard to come down from. I'm good now, I swear.

Moni said...

Oh darn! I thought I posted this really long comment. I guess I only THOUGHT I posted it. lol

Anyway you're a good writer. I was inspired by a poster I saw today that read: "It's not the swiftness of the runner that counts, only that he runs the race."


Anonymous said...

Heh, well most of them didn't even know who I was before...

briliantdonkey said...

I COMPLETELY get where you are coming from as I have been there myself. Most of us have. Winning would be GREAT don't get me wrong. The Honorable mention is a step in that direction and much appreciated. However, far above and beyond ANY of that, to me at least, is the 4,5,8 new blogs I will find my way to that before long become favorites. YOURS, and the below mentioned one for instance. Jaye, Fringes, Flood, Rebecca off the top of my head from previous contests come quickly to mind.

In the spirit of 'fall off the horse get back ON the horse', you may want to head over to

I just found his site through Jason's contest and he is holding a shortstory contest as well if you want to check it out. Hope to see you there, if not I will see you back here(unless you lock the door on me).


Kathleen said...

I always like your stories, although I haven't read the one you wrote this time yet - on my way to do it now, though.

I have complete faith that it's fabulous, however.

Kathleen said...

Great story! You had me thinking, "Ah, Scott's being dark again," but then you fooled me with the ending.

Being dark isn't a negative for me, just for the record. I love dark as long as it's not icky. ;-)