Putting Up or Shutting Up

Illustration of a scribe writing
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All right, so my buddy Sherri challenged me – rightfully – to basically put up or shut up.

She’s not the only one.  My beloved wife said the same thing in a different way.  She wondered aloud how I could overcome my fear of rejection.

Annie said something similar when I struggled to get my kiriban prize started.  (Thank you, Annie, if I haven’t said so already.)

Sherri, though, was the first one who pointed out that I’m not afraid of rejection.  I’m not afraid of hearing harsh things about my work.  I’ve come to a place where I’m able to stand on my ability.  I’ve pulled enough books off the shelves at B&N or Borders and found them severely lacking.  I’ve seen enough crap in print to know, even if I’m rejected in the most cruel terms, I don’t have to believe it.  That’s only one person’s opinion, and not necessarily reflective of the masses.

So, my wife poses, if that’s not the reason you’re balking at submission – what IS the reason?

I don’t know.  I have no answer.  Part of me feels I don’t have anything to offer, for one.  I don’t have things written which fit the specs of “short story” for one thing.  Most of my “short” works end up blossoming into novellas.  I hate that, for the record, but it is what it is.  And while I have a few pieces I’m really proud of — “Remember Me”, for one, and “Getting Away from it All” – I don’t know where I can get them in print.  They’re long – almost 20K each, if I recall.

But is that a good excuse?  I have a couple at least that are under 6,000 words, and I have at least one under 4,000 words.  I don’t know how many places take ‘em that long, and I don’t know how many paying markets there are for my stuff, but … why aren’t I looking into it?

Hm.  That’s the question.

Well, I guess not having an excuse can’t be an excuse any more.  So, I put it to you: Is this an indication I need to take the next step?  Am I now ready to move to the next echelon and shoot for a small part of my dream?  (Just FYI, if I could sit around and write short stories all the time and make a living doing it, believe me I would; I enjoy writing them more than novel-length work.)

Sound off, y’all.  I’d love to hear what you’ve got to say.


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10 thoughts on “Putting Up or Shutting Up

  1. Spend some of your online time browsing around Duotrope, put in the parameters of several varying pieces and see what you come up with. There may be a market for your novellas, as well as the shorter stuff. I think 4,000 wds is pretty standard for a short. You’re ready to go in that direction. If you’re concerned about just getting into print, don’t forget about the non-paying markets. I guess I need to take my own advice. 🙂

    Well, I guess you do! I sort of forgot about Duotrope. I’ll have to see what they’re about again. But I thought I read on an agent’s blog or someplace similar that there are few if any markets willing to take novellas. After publication maybe someone putting an anthology together will take it, but not really before. Hm. Thanks!

  2. If you are really proud with some of your work, then it must be good, right? You seem like a person who judges yourself better than anyone else can. Well, maybe your wife is better in analyzing you but then again, I really have no idea LOL.

    Absolutely right, my wife knows me better than I know myself and is usually my most astute observer of behavior. 🙂

    I say you just keep submitting them works, you’ll probably hit your goal in the years to come. A lot of writers struggle before having their books published, right? Even the most popular writers.

    True, true. TOO true, in fact.

    I think it’s a good thing you can overcome rejection, especially when it happens for the nth time. In my case, I failed loads of subjects but I’m not afraid anymore to see my upcoming subjects that I know I flunked because I’m used to it, maybe trained to overcome it.

    Much Love,

    Thanks very much! 🙂

  3. Maybe you much rather being an aspiring writer than a writer. There’s a sort of sympathy you can feel for yourself by being a regular guy who wants to write as opposed to being a writer. Sort of like a fear of success.

    I’ve actually been examining this closely to be sure I really want to write, or if a fear of success is my problem. Good insight.

    Don’t listen to me though. I’m an idiot who most likely is currently suffering from a flu-induced fever. Why I’m still at work right now is baffling to me. Screw this, I’m going home.

    Get better soon. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Well, don’t get mad, but if you are anything like me you are just being lazy…giving yourself reasons why you CAN”T do something…..my advice: DO IT

    Well, I knew SOMEone was going to give me the Nike slogan. 😉 Don’t worry, I won’t get mad. But it’s really not as easy as “just do it” makes it seem. 🙂

  5. What mags out there still publish horror fiction? There have to be a few. Oh, wait, wiki to the rescue:

    Guess I’ll check it out. 🙂 These pop up and die off like kernels of popcorn, but it’s at least a starting point. Thanks, Bryce!

    Or go borrow a writers market from your library. There’s probably a few out there that publish longer (20k) works. I know there’s plenty of mags in the sci-fi arena that publish novella-length stuff.

    And to answer your question: you’re not looking into it because you’re farting around on twitter. 😉

    Uh-oh, you found me out. 😉

    Just do at least one “real progress” thing first, then socialize online. make “progress, then socialize” your mantra.

    Yeah … I try to do that. I job hunt first, play second. I guess I always counted the writing stuff as “play”, since it doesn’t pay any bills.

  6. There are magazines that will take – prefer – longer short stories in the 5 to 7 thousand word range.

    That’s good to hear! Now — if I can just keep them to that length! 🙂

    I hear you about stories morphing and turning into novellas. Perhaps this is the stage before novels? Personally, I find novels beyond 200 pages anymore to be too long, so I am looking to write stuff that fall around that cut off.

    Yeah, I sort of agree. It’s one daunting thing about Stephen King’s stuff … everything’s as thick as a NY phone book. And a lot of the fantasy stuff is HUGE. Heck, Twilight is 115K, which I heard is on the cusp of too long for ADULTS, never mind YA.

    Google up your fave mags and start looking at the guidelines and just send something out. It’s like pulling a band-aid off. Gotta do it quick.

    If I HAD a favorite mag … that’s part of the problem. I don’t even have a starting point. I’m embarrassed to say that but it’s true.

    I don’t think you are worried about rejection. It doesn’t bother me as much as succeeding would because then the pressure would be really on, ya know?

    Yes! The pressure to EXCEED yourself, be BETTER than last time. That demand is incredible. And not many succeed, frankly.

  7. All right bubba. It’s time. I know I’ve sent you some links also. Get some pieces out there! You need help let me know. You know I love reading your stuff.

    Thanks, bud. I appreciate that. 🙂

    We’ve known each other for awhile now and I think it is time. I’ve got stuff out there. I submitted a poem to a free e-zine. Who cares if I don’t get anything off of it. It gets my name out there!

    Good for you! Congrats on taking the first step! Awesome!

    So let’s get this show on the road. That’s why I’ve been working on Project Lusi. And now Project BS (the one I emailed you the idea about). Let’s take back the horror world! It’s time for a paradigm shift! By the way I love the word paradigm, something about silent g’s.

    I’m getting onboard the special kool-aid train now. You coming?

    I’m stewing about your idea with the blogging. I wonder about a couple of aspects, but they’re spectral thoughts, nothing solid. When I have something more firm, I’ll get back to you on that. As for submitting … well, I’m preparing “Misty Hollow” even as we exchange comments. 😉

    Thanks for the pep talk, DZ. It means a lot to know you’re in my corner on this. 🙂

  8. Erm, have you thought of buying the “Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market?

    Um … in my present financial state, I’d have to settle for a library copy. 😉

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