April Submission Blitz – Disconnect

April 14, 2014 at 11:01 pm (writing) (, , , , , , , , )

Today’s a hard day for me. It has been exactly one year since I lost one of my best friends and real-life muse, Barb, to cancer. Without her the world is a bleaker, lonelier place. She was one of my few positive ties to the world at large and one of the people who made me feel like the fact that I’m different from the norm is more of a good thing than a bad one. On days like this I really get a sense of that disconnect and I’m less inclined to want to share with others. When I’m in that state of mind, the rejections hurt more, like the one I got today.

Yes – I know, I’m supposed to have a thick skin. But just because I know this doesn’t always make it so, especially when I’m raw for other reasons.

“Gaia’s Gift” is a bit of a mystery to me. It’s one of those stories I liked enough to base a novel on its post –apocalyptic ideas (Sifting the Ashes – unpublished) and I received overwhelmingly positive feedback from my test-readers, but response from submission editors has been lukewarm at best. I’ll often see my favourites, stories well-liked by those who read them before I began to submit them, rejected far more often than the ones I’m not as fond of and which get a so-so response from test readers. This may be because I’m more inclined to submit the ones I prefer to pro-rate venues, who always say no, but “Gaia’s Gift” got a no from a semi-pro venue and a charity anthology too. I’m starting to wonder if it’s destined to remain on the shelf.

Today’s feedback for “Gaia’s Gift” is that the submission editor did not find it compelling. I can’t fix that. I wrote it with a lot of heart and I thought the story was touching. Others who have read it have agreed with me on this, but there’s no guaranteeing that what appeals to you or your friends will have the same effect on anyone else.

I’ve also gotten the feedback that there’s too much background to the story. It’s hard not to set the stage for a post-apocalyptic dystopian tale without presenting background. The story wouldn’t make much sense without it. You need to know what has caused the damage and despair before you can move the characters towards new hope and find that glimmer in the gloom. At least, that’s how I see it, but maybe other people prefer to be left in the dark.

Then again, this is one of the things I’ve always wrestled with with short stories – why I used to think I couldn’t write them at all. Despite the fact that short stories pinpoint one event, when I start writing the characters become real people with extensive histories in my head. I can see all of the happenings that led up to the primary plot of the tale and can anticipate some of the consequences to follow that would never be addressed in the story. That means I often get test-readers saying “there’s so much to this – you should write a novel based on this.” I’ve written more than eighty short stories to date…that would be an awful lot of novels in four years.

I would only write novels if it were easier to get them published, but it’s not. I envy well-established writers like Robert J. Sawyer who have discarded short story writing because their novel writing is more lucrative. Not so for me. Of course, it’s not really about the money for me. If so I’d spend all my time writing erotica. It pays really well. The hubby suggested it’s because there aren’t as many people out there who can write it well, who are willing to write it at all. Maybe, but I prefer writing the tamer stuff and since writing isn’t my day job I’m going to concentrate on writing what I love…

…Like “Gaia’s Gift.” And I’ll draw consolation in the fact that Barb found it compelling.

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