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Archive for October, 2010

The Difference A Day Makes

This month, the writer’s critique group was switched from the third Wednesday to the third Tuesday. I was pleased to find more people attended and a new member joined us. I was caught off guard as I hadn’t printed as many hand-outs as I normally run off, but for problems to have, that was a tiny one.

I love the members of my writer’s group. If I ever get a book deal, each of them will be given a mention on the “Special Thanks to…” page.

A change in the day had reproductions I didn’t anticipate. I couldn’t ‘switch’ my activities from Tuesday to Wednesday easily, so I’m running behind yet again. I had an FB email to answer which I was able to put off for a day. But then I received a volley of emails from someone I sent a physical letter and several pieces to a few weeks ago. This threw me off kilter because I thought I wouldn’t receive any response for a while yet. Those emails were fun to read though. More fodder…

So, when I started the ‘Celebration thread’ this afternoon, I was just about ashamed of myself. I only had one submission to report, and that was made early this morning. (Fingers crossed.) After babysitting, I ran up here to start to send out a few more things and now I am back to an “11” in my list of things sent out.

Tomorrow, because I didn’t go shopping today, I’ll have to do that and then on Sunday there is the kick-off party for NaNoWriMo. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I am looking forward to the relative easy pace of November’s 1667 words a day — everyday.

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The Arithmetic in Writing

Years ago, I came across the theory that if you had 12 things ‘out,’ you could expect one of them to be accepted. The first time I managed that, I had a poem published. Since then, I’ve kept a list and I make a line after I submit 12 individual things. Right now, I have 11 things listed since the last line I drew, so I’m antsy to get a ‘twelfth’ out.

I like to draw lines…

This led me to consider how valid the theory was, so I did the math. Since starting the list, I have sent out 295 things and 20 are still out = 275. I’ve had 17 things accepted/published, which puts me at 16.17 things submitted before 1 acceptance. Not bad. But if I add ‘special mentions’ (5) that takes me to 12.5 items submitted per 1 acceptance–which is awfully close to proving the theory. (I include everything in that list — from grant applications to New Yorker cartoon captions, letters to the editor to Scriblophile contest entries.)

The other bit of math I’ve been thinking about comes from Stephen King in his “On Writing.” In it he gives an equation that after a story is written, 10% should be trimmed. I agree with that — 90% of the time — in regards to my own writing. After years and years of hearing: “Trim! Cut! Less is more!” I feel trained. I automatically edit out ‘thats’ as I write, which is really going to be a hindrance when I start NaNoMo in less than a month…

Regardless, I’ve looked at a few things I wrote years ago and 10% is not always enough. In the last few hours, I’ve taken a 2890 word story written in the 1990’s and cut it down to 1677 words. I need to leave it for now and see how it reads in the morning, though I suspect a few more dozen words can be deleted.

That wasn’t effortless. I’d re-read it recently and didn’t think there was any saving this story at all. Once I gave up hope of ever being able to fix it for possible publication, I came up with a ‘fix’. Strange, isn’t it? It’s strange to me. I start browbeating myself, telling myself how horrible I am as a writer and then, boom: someone says ‘I like your story. I want to publish it.’ And on a few other days, I think, ‘Yes! This is good. It will be accepted and I’ll get the big bucks and be published in Glimmer Train.’ Then I receive the form rejection ‘why are you bothering us?’ email.

Sigh…

The ups…

The downs…

The life of one writer…

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