Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Insecure Writers ... Halloween Edition!

ALEX J CAVANAUGH, in his great wisdom, created the opportunity for any writer who feels like he or she needs a guilt free forum to vent all about their insecurities. Every first Wednesday of the month is the day for all who want to, to let it out. The Insecure Writers Support Group.

So, what’s my deal this month? Well, my plan to be super positive went out the window, as I’m feeling a bit down about everything.

I think I’ve always been looking for ways to gauge how close I am being a pro-level writer. I realized about a year and a half ago that the best way to tell would be to submit to pro markets. So I did, and I have.

And since that time I’ve had zero sales. Nada. I’ve had multiple stories out to all my dream pro short story markets for a while now. They keep not being accepted.

I received a rejection last week for a horror story I’d written. It had several personal notes in the rejection. That’s supposed to be a good sign, right? But then, when I read the notes, they say things like they didn’t care for the name of a secondary character, or, they think my math was wrong when used in the story (it wasn’t, but upon rereading, I can see why they thought that – that really is my problem).

And I’m thinking, WTF? I can change the math, I can change names. Don’t use that as a reason to reject the story. Tell me what’s wrong!

Of course, they rejected the story for other reasons, I know they were being helpful, or trying to be. It’s just that, well, I want someone to say, ‘Hey, this is pretty good, we want to publish it.’

So, I joined an online critique group for some feedback. I submitted a story that I thought was pretty good, but still didn’t seem quite finished to me. And that’s when I started getting feedback. And more feedback, and more, and more. And now I just want it to stop. It’s too much.

One person said it was the best (that’s a paraphrase) thing they’ve read since they’ve joined the group.

Someone else said it was such a mess that they weren’t sure if it was good or bad. It was just too all over the place.

The grammar was awful… no, wait, it’s actually pretty tight.

The aliens at the end were awesome! The aliens at the end was a stupid idea (an FYI, my story had no aliens – that looks like something I need to address, since more than one person thought there were).

And on and on it goes. Crits are pouring in and I want them to stop. I don’t like it. I’m not sure what I can take away, since stuff was all over the board about what was wrong with the story. It did manage to make me feel beat up.  

/End rant

IN OTHER NEWS, I self-pubbed a new novelette this week. I've done my darnedest to make it free on Kindle for the next few days. Please download it now if you're ever going to be interested. Well, unless it's not free, in which case you should wait until it is. 

I don't know if it's a good cover. But it was damn hard to do.

I wrote it several years ago for a charity in town, the book it appeared in sold horribly, but the charity still got something from it. I reread it recently, realized the rights are all mine, and thought it was still a pretty cool tale – even if I had to fight the urge to rewrite every word. Since not that many markets are interested in reprints, I figured I’d put the thing up for the world to see. It isn’t spec fic at all, just a story about a guy discovering his grandma’s secret history.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It's a great cover! Crap, why didn't you tell anyone you had another book out?
The more feedback you get, the more it will be all over the place. (Trust me on that one!)
Don't give up sending it out though. Need more markets, contact Milo.
And I still say the novel you let me read last year is still one of the best things I've read in years.

Deborah Walker said...

Psychotic Persistence, my friend.

jaybird said...

I'm new to the ISWG but your post makes me feel welcome.

Writing is art and I think it's all a matter of personal tastes/opinion whether or not someone is going to like your work. People will highly recommend books for me to read that I wind up absolutely HATING. Other times, I love something no one else seems to get or like at all.

All I can tell you is this, I just read your piece on Elvis, Leia and Greedo and I thought it was absolutely brilliant!

PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

I still have to read the short story Offutt put up for free on Smashwords too. So much to do.

Julie said...

Hi Rusty! I've just discovered your blog through the IWSG. I'm sorry you're feeling down about the rejections, I think many of us can relate to that. I can totally relate to your feelings about the crit group, I have a hard time with that as well. I give you credit for joining because I think that takes a lot of courage all by itself.

Love the cover for your novelette, I'm definitely going to check the story out. Great to meet you!

Tonja said...

Ugh. That sucks. I would want it to stop too. I'd change my email address to make it stop.

I downloaded your story. I'll post a review or send you feedback (not sucky and completely random feedback) when I read it.

Tonja said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stu said...

Critiques work mostly when you know who the person is. And it's the same with reviews, so it doesn't even stop when the book's out.

Tamara said...

Hi Rusty! I'm sorry your having such a crappy month--that sucks. I've been there, believe me. Sixty four rejections on my first book (including two fulls and two partials. the last full rejection almost killed me)And, even on the fulls, I got pretty vague feedback. They said the pacing was off. And I wanted to yell, "HEY! I can fix that!" But, its not like they asked ne to resubmit, so the book went on a shelf. It was definitely a tough time but we've all been there and you'll get through it.

Anyway, as far as your critique group problems, I'd go through the critiques you've gotten so far. Weed out the ones that are making points nobody else made, or seem to be from someone who thinks totally differently from you. If you read them closely, you can tell a good critique from a bad one. Sort out the two critiques you like the best and approach those people to continue working with. Two good crit partners are worth their weight in gold--and much better than a group of fifteen all telling you different things. GOOD LUCK!! I hope things look up for you. :)

Anonymous said...

I like the new cover. A lot!

Anonymous said...

Hi Rusty, first of all I love the cover of War Angel. I'll check it out.
In regards to the online critiques, I thought about doing that and then thought exactly what is happening to you would happen and I would be no closer to getting a good MS. To many ideas spoil the pot or something like that. I have two CP, right now and they find very similar things and those are the things I consider changing. You don't need everyone's opinion, just a couple people you trust and respect their writing. Good luck.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

First off, I will definitely download your new book. I just need to remember. I have an open house today at my work that is going to make things kinda crrraaazzzy. But we have Muffy Davis coming in (she won 5 gold medals at the paralympics in London).

Second, I was wondering if you'd like to collaborate on an art piece sometime. I think I can draw people really well when I set my mind to it, but I absolutely hate doing the background. You do scenes and backgrounds amazing.

My thought is this, we could easily combine the two using photoshop by lifting what I draw and placing it in one of your pictures. I could be fun.

Deborah Walker said...

Yeh, that cover rocks. I wish that I was arty.

Andrew Leon said...

I'm not behind the whole crit group thing. Maybe you noticed? Even in the Inklings, Tolkien had people who loved LotR and people who hated it ("Oh, God! Not more elves!"). The response from any large group will always be too scattered to be helpful.
And if this is Depravity you're talking about... aliens? Really? Some people thought there were aliens?

Green Monkey said...

great cover indeed! and it looks like a lot of layering.

another insecure writer here.

thanks for the online critique group suggestions also.

Cindy said...

I like the cover and I just bought a copy. Hope to get to read it within the next few days. Also be sure to have a link to your other novelette at the end of this one.

I wanted TransShifter to go free on Amazon, but gave up on it. Although I might try again. If you make it exclusive you can do it right away.

Arlee Bird said...

I can kind of identify with your downness. Except you've gotten more done. You have reason to feel good about that.

Love the cover art on War Angel. I'm not sure what it represents, but it reminds me of Jackson Ave. in Knoxville.

Tossing It Out

Doreen McGettigan said...

OMGoodness I love that cover! Rejections really just suck. I piled up well over 100 of them before my book was published.
Good crit partners are hard to find. I hate to be cliche but it is like finding a partner. Before they can honestly critique you they have to get to know you. There should be rules such as critiquing for grammar, flow etc...It is a process but once you find a few you can trust hang on to them...send them chocolate:)
Never, ever give up.

Lara Schiffbauer said...

First - way cool cover!

Second - no two critiques being the same is my biggest frustration when it comes to critique groups, beta readers, etc... I feel your pain.

The Golden Eagle said...

That's a great cover. I love the detail and color.

No wonder you're down after all those conflicting opinions.

S. L. Hennessy said...

I'm with you Rusty. It's HARD to stay positive. Especially when you get too much feedback and don't know where to start or what to listen too.

But on the plus side, you're cover is awesome. Seriously awesome. I'm eager to start reading now that it's out.

Brinda said...

Well, I will go download. Now. Yeah, the crit thing is tough. I have no good advice on that.

Sean McLachlan said...

Downloaded! You now have a reader in Spain! Actually you'll have a reader in November. I'm off to Iraq for the rest of the month and I won't be taking my Kindle. :-)

Tyrean Martinson said...

That cover is awesome and it sounds intriguing - I'm heading over to download right after this . . .
I have to agree that too many critiques can be tough. I hope this month treats you better! Keep writing! Keep dreaming!