Posts filed under Send help

The 7 Stages of Literary Submission

Stage 1: Nausea. Clamp your lips tight as you click the 'send' button or drop that envelope in the postbox, while your stomach tries to escape through your throat and your guts play Cat's Cradle. It's gone. There's no reclaiming it. You've submitted to at least six weeks of morning sickness while your literary baby floats in the amniotic waters of perusal...

Stage 2: Optimism.

You know what? It wasn't that bad. You worked hard on it and it's a decent piece of writing. They'd be fools not to love it. And you've been doing this for so long now, you won't feel crushed if it's a rejection - it's part of the deal, it's par for the course, it's a rite of passage, it's some other trite cliché that makes you feel better. Come on now, it's going to be fine. This time it's all going to work out.

Stage 3. Panic.

What were you thinking, you total moron?! You sent them that? That piece of crap that's been crapped on by a crapmonster made of crap? You idiot. How do you unsend something? Can you tell them it's a mistake? A joke? The pacing is too slow, the dialogue is flat, the description is dull, the premise is unoriginal... Why did you even try in the first place?

Stage 4. Faith.

It's going to be fine. It's going to be fine. THIS IS YOUR TIME. It's gonna happen. It's a strong piece, it's what they wanted, it's new, it's full of voice and intrigue. Come on, you can feeeeeel it. You're going to get that email or that phone call, you're going to try not to hyperventilate, you're going to squee or something, you're going to pour yourself a big 'ol glass of Jim Beam and order a takeaway. This is it. Any day now. You're going to hear from them...

Stage 5. Despair.

Just kill yourself.

Stage 6. Nausea. Again.

You should have heard by now. Any day now. Any day now. What if they call? What if they say yes? Will you be able to splutter out "thank you" while you're chundering? Try not to puke on the keyboard if it's an email. And if it's a "no", well, there's always the Jim Beam.

Stage 7.  Acceptance/Rejection

Woop woop!/Meh...

Posted on December 12, 2012 and filed under Projects, Random, Send help.

Need Fish Oil - STAT

I'm at that point in pregnancy where strangers eye me up to gauge whether I'm just fat or actually up the duff. Either way they look disapproving - even if they realise that I am growing a womb fruit, they probably assume I'm only about seventeen as ol' Babyface Monkey here still gets asked for ID at the age of twenty-seven. I'm kind of looking forward to the beached whale stage, if only because I can silence most people with a pregnant glare, groan or sigh, I get to eat like it's always Saturday on the Butterfield Diet and I can properly freak out my friend Jack by showing him Alien-esque protrusions when baby sticks an elbow out of my belly. Right now, I'm meant to blooming, but I am developing a waddle and my son insists on flashing my stomach to any and every passer by to tell them about his soon-to-be little brother or sister. Except sometimes he gets confused and tries to show them a boob instead. And once he said it was an egg. We're working on teaching him the logistics.

Oh... and 'baby brain' has hit with a vengeance. I spent a solid five minutes trying to unlock the front door to collect a package from the postman the other day, shouting apologies through the letterbox and desperately explaining that something was stuck, feeling like a douche. I was just about to go around the back, cursing the price of locksmiths when I noticed that I had actually been trying to repeatedly LOCK an already locked door. I put the cereal in the fridge yesterday morning. I've been convinced it is Tuesday for about five days - except for Tuesday, when I thought it was Monday.

A friend told me that if you don't have enough Omega-3 in your diet then the baby basically steals it from your brain. No shit. You eventually regain your original levels but it takes a long time - which probably explains the fuzzy-headed-doofusness of my brain since I had baby #1. I admit, I haven't been eating enough oily fish - or much fish at all for that matter, or walnuts or flaxseeds and whatever else has Omega-3 in it - and not to panic-buy shares in Omega-3 supplements or anything, but I thought it might be a good idea to get some in my fucking face as soon as humanly possible before this parasite destroys my brain. I really have been struggling to write and/or edit lately. My weekly short stories and flashes have dwindled to once-a-month. My editing has ground to a halt. I find writing a lot like exercise - the less you do, the less energy and stamina you have to kickstart yourself again, but as soon as you make an effort you can't get enough of the endorphins and crazy-writer-hormones (technical term) that make you want to do it all day and all night.

Let's leave that exercise analogy at the doorstep, however, because I certainly haven't been doing too much of that either... But today I DID do some editing. Four whole chapters in fact. Only about 8000 words and I still managed to get lost in my manuscript. And I don't mean lost as in 'swept away by the mesmeric prose', but more 'where the fuck was that red highlighted section telling me to do something important? Oh, look, that character swears a lot in this chapter. Hmm, maybe I should change her name to Hannah. La la la, that bartender has a really shitty expression on his face every time he looks at me - maybe it's because I only ordered a 65p lime soda instead of an expensive organic beer. Can't he see I'm pregnant? Oh, no, I've got a massive t-shirt on. He probably thinks I'm fat and is judging me because I just ordered chips. At least I didn't ask for extra cheese. Fuck him, I can drink lime sodas if I want to drink lime sodas. What? Oh, editing, right. Chapter four...'

Need. Fish. Oil. STAT.

Posted on June 8, 2011 and filed under Editing, Novel, Random, Send help.

'Born in a Barn' up at The Pygmy Giant

My latest story, 'Born in a Barn', is now up at The Pygmy Giant.

Thank you Pygmies/Giants, who said, "this is what I believe they call a tour de force".

I mean, shucks.

Whenever I get an acceptance, I abstain from reading my story again until it's live in the magazine, so it's a sort of surprise for me too. Today, filled with inexplicable rage, and having called the microwave something unmentionable for exploding my porridge, I read 'Born in a Barn' and felt guilty that I'd given some of my frustrated anger to my narrator. But maybe that's a life-saving thing - getting rid of portions of sociopathy via my sad little characters so that I might stop at simply swearing at my kitchen appliances.

My mother worries that I never write a happy story. But, while happiness is lovely, it's not all that interesting.



Posted on March 8, 2011 and filed under Flashes, Publications, Send help, Short Stories, Subs, Writing.

Ooh! Shiny things!

I'm a bit of a multitasking freak. I find it hard to sit still. Idle hands and all that. I work while I eat, I read while I bathe, I knit while I watch TV. I usually have 2 or 3 books half-read around the house at any one time. I have 2 novels to edit, 3 more and a screenplay to write, and no less than 40 short stories and flashes written, subbed or in need of editing. I had a sudden urge to look at my first novel again this weekend - a sort of sick curiosity to remind me why I'd shelved it, and how much better my second was. I was actually pleasantly surprised. It still needs an apocalyptic razing to the ground and a gentle rebuild (which isn't going to happen unless I get paid serious amounts of money to do so by some bizarre, sadistic benefactor), but you know, it ain't half bad. It led me to browse through the hundreds of unfinished stories I have in my documents folder - some worth persevering with, some good for a self-loathing laugh, some to be dissected and cherry-picked for other projects. I felt guilty for ignoring the novel editing, but it was good to be looking at some different words for a change...

I know: attack of the ooh-look-at-the-shiny-thing syndrome. I would LOVE to be writing the screenplay right now. Or rather, completing the frankly insane and fascinating research I need to do before I start writing. I would LOVE to be starting the new novel, getting that whooshing seratonin rush in the early fuck-like-rabbits stage of the author-book relationship. I would LOVE to be working on the other two books I have simmering on the back hob of my mind - genre novels, a whole other world from the 'literary' fiction I'm writing now. No vampires, werewolves or zombies - just good old fashioned sci fi and fantasy - because holy mother of Asimov, it's damn fun to write.

It's not that I think having several projects isn't a good idea - I tend to leave my shorts and flashes as fodder for my edited-out brain, when I really need a break and some fresh ink - it's just that I know I have a tendency to jump on the next shiny thing and am trying to be VERY cautious when I feel that itch a'coming. I am ITCHY. I have been staring at this novel for nearly 3 years now. (Though, the first took me 6, so I suppose I've halved my writing time and doubled my productivity, right?!) I'm still invested, I'm still passionate, it's just really frickin' hard at the moment.

Right now, I'm on page 90 of 271 - thoroughly stuck re-writing a pretty pivotal scene. It's almost like I just want to stop doing nasty things to my protagonist. He's been through a lot and he's about to go through worse. "I'm really, really sorry, dude, but it's my job." Actually, since I haven't sold this book yet, what I'm doing is for pleasure. I'm hurting this man of my own volition. I am a sick little puppy, aren't I?

Here's where someone steps in and reminds me about the imaginary nature of fiction, please.

While trying to convince my lazy self I need a break from this, need to top up my sanity levels slightly, I know deep down in my procrastinating soul that what I REALLY need to do is keep going - to stop glancing furtively at those other projects, staple myself to the chair and set up some sort of caffeine IV. Oh, and write. And edit. And make it good.

What I want to know from you is: Do you work on several projects simultaneously? How do you keep your focus? And where can I get shiny-thing blinkers?

Posted on January 30, 2011 and filed under Editing, Novel, Projects, Send help, Writing.

The Edit Begins

First sweep of proofing and copy-editing is done. Now I have to take a pickaxe to this little baby. I've already made the entire opening page disappear. It's just gone. The first part of the novel I wrote - bizarrely, since I rarely start at the beginning - just selected, deleted, gone. Whatever the book has become, it's moved past that opening page. *blink* I'm eyeing up futher murders, too. Mutilations, tortures, beatings and nipple twists, all the while screaming: "Why can't you sort out your narrative? What's the answer to these plot crossovers? Do I really need you as a character? Is this all just a pile of wank?"

I'm sure it's not. But right now it's a big pile of nothing. I have the first draft blues. And a filthy procrastination habit. Normally, I'd succumb - to reading in the bath, ice cream and 30 Rock with my husband, but he's abandoned me.


He's been hit by a creative wave and has locked himself in the spare room while he whacks out a portrait. (That sounds WAY more masturbatory than it really is. I'm pretty sure that's all he'll be whacking off, but hey, if that's the price of art...) He'll be in there for the next couple of days - oblivious to time, hunger, acceptable levels of mess and nudity (somehow his painting sessions end with a lack of clothes - the ones he's been wearing becoming so covered in oils that they're not really worth wearing any more). This at least means that my evenings are lonely, which means I'll probably get some work done. It also means my weekend is going to be spent being sole childcarer, which IN TURN means that I'll be so stir crazy for a literary fix (through the grass-is-greener twist that I can't have it right now), that I'll work my little arse off the moment the womb fruit is asleep.

It's a win-crazy-artistic-sleepless-backache-everythingiscoveredinoilpaint-win situation.

Posted on December 18, 2010 and filed under Editing, Novel, Send help.