Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks for Honorable Mention & Writer's Workshop at Windycon

When is a piece ready for publication? When is my blog, for that matter, ready for its first blog post? I'm thankful for a recent step forward in my writing career, so why not blog about it - why not today, on Thanksgiving? 

I entered two short stories in the 2010 I.S.F.i.C. Writer's Contest this year. My piece, "Waiting for The Future" won an Honorable Mention! You can check out the details of the award at Science Fiction Awards Watch (my Zen Googler wife found it.) Judges' comments included "the world of 'Waiting for the Future' revealed over time was a fascinating one with a significant theme." So perhaps this is a salable piece?  In Chapter 9 of "Techniques of the Selling Writer", Dwight V. Swain states "A story is merchandise that goes hunting for a buyer." It's a very short chapter with this advice for selling stories:
  1. Study your markets.
  2. Get manuscripts in the mail.
  3. Keep them there.
There's eight great chapters before this one and, as the title suggests, they delve into the technique of writing. I've had one flash fiction piece submitted all over the marketplace this year so I get the whole perseverance thing. Since October 2009, I've come back to writing fiction after a twenty year hiatus. In this now digital age, in which literary and publishing information is readily available to me, I've devoured some great books on writing -  and I've felt equally devoured by the writing bug. It's as if an old addiction has friended me on Facebook and is barraging my feed with status updates.

My other submission to the contest was deemed "the best of the worst." Perhaps not a salable piece? I submitted this to the Windycon Writers Workshop to get some insight into what that critique might mean.

I got some great insight, some of it conflicting, as multiple professionals gave me feedback on my work. Certain aspects of the experimental piece were ripped apart, but I think in revision it will become a salable piece.

"Techniques of the Selling Writer" was suggested by Bill Fawcett at the Windycon Workshop. It's a great resource, not just because it guides me through what I need to master, but because it illuminates what I'm already doing well. Back cover: "This is a book for writers who want to turn rejection slips into cashable checks." I couldn't agree more. Read some books on your craft. Get into a workshop.

My thanks to Bill Fawcett, Betty Anne Hull, E. E. Knight, Chris Gerrib, Trey Thoelcke and Richard Chwedyk for taking the time out of their busy professional literary careers to spend some time with my work.

P.S. If you want to cut some calories this (or any) Thanksgiving make your favorite  Double Decker Pumpkin Pie recipe while thinking really hard about your first blog post for your writing blog. If you do a fine job mixing the  pie filling but forget to lay down the crust like I did... Let's just say you can enjoy a delicious pumpkin custard topped with pumpkin chiffon without all those unwanted pastry carbs! Happy Thanksgiving.