Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. -- Gene Fowler

Monday, December 6, 2010

Post-NaNo life and looking to the future

After a brief respite following the madness that is National Novel Writing Month, I'm ready to get back to writing. And this time I mean business! I've spent a month writing like my hair was on fire, and though it was difficult at times, I miss it. Most of all I miss the presence of the deadline on my neck.

Wait. What? Yes, I said I miss the deadline. Why? Because it was largely the knowledge that if I didn't get the requisite number of words written by midnight on November 30, I wouldn't win and I wouldn't get the rewards that come with winning. I dragged myself to the keyboard whether I had something in mind or not. Some days I sat here staring blankly at the screen, knowing the sprint timer was running and I had to start sometime. So I started with a character's name and words fell out of my head. Sometimes they were crappy words, but usually they were at least okay. During NaNo the quality doesn't matter quite so much, as I've mentioned here before. But even in daily writing that's not part of a mad writing marathon, first drafts are first drafts. They can be plagued with plot holes or typos, stale dialogue or continuity errors. First you get it all out, then you revise.

I've spent the last few days not writing like a fiend, and also looking into what writing projects I have that I want to work on. I'm determined to write (nearly) every day, and I have enough work to get done. Between a pair of short stories I'm working on, various and sundry other incomplete works I've started over the years, articles for Associated Content, and this blog, I have plenty on my plate. But things need to be done in a certain order.

I looked at Duotrope for markets Thursday. Just breezed over and did a search for places that might buy one of my two stories when they're finished and ready for publication. Here's how to scare yourself in one easy step: two of the fifteen choices I was initially offered were Lightspeed and Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show. Lightspeed's site shows that several of their recent stories were purchased from big names. Robert Silverberg. Stephen King. George R. R. Martin. And if you're a science fiction fan who doesn't recognise Orson Scott Card's name, you've missed out. There were other markets, but those two, unsurprisingly, made Duotrope's 25 Most Challenging Markets list. Eheh.

Cart before the horse? Yes. I'm like that sometimes. The idea of submitting to a magazine which publishes such prominent authors is daunting. Then again, I could have what they're looking for. I won't know until I finish my stories and send them in.

I feel the need to seek advice about the publishing world. I know little about it. Should I submit my work to non-paying markets first, to increase my chances of publication and to get publication credits? Or should I go right ahead and send to Lightspeed and its fellows or other publications, perhaps to collect my first-ever rejection? And what about Associated Content? While AC doesn't pay for fiction, and I doubt I'd send them my serious stuff, I could certainly make some progress by publishing poetry or even a brief serial story there.

I have plans, and, now that NaNo is over, I have time to pursue them. Time to put my butt in the chair and get to work.

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