I’m having a bit of a day and I don’t normally talk about the parts of my particular writing life that get me down. So here we go.
- Finances. There are many things that cost money that would go a long ways towards helping my writing along. Editors, cons, classes, events, writers organizations that don’t require one to have a list of “professional” credits etc. The thing is I cannot afford them. Yes I have a decent full time job but I am also the breadwinner in my family of two. I have invested in a couple of writing industry magazines. The total sum cost of that being under 30$. But I had to go without other things for a few weeks for that. To pay an editor for The. Book has meant several months of fundraising and I’m still short of what I’d wanted to pay her and even that is not professional rates. It’s infuriating to me sometimes.
- Invisibility. The short fiction/non fiction markets are enormous. Within that enormous pool of talented authors I am a speck of vegetation swallowed by a minnow. It can be exhausting to spend so much time writing, submitting etc and know how it is. I’m not looking for ego masturbation here, it is just a fact.
- Variance. By this I mean the eleventy forty seven million tiny differences in things like cover letters. Just looking at my last seven submissions, they each had differing requirements for cover letters. One mag didn’t want one at all, another wanted something to “show the authors personality-briefly”, another stated that submissions wouldn’t even be read if all of the authors contact information, no publication credits, no blogs/websites were mentioned, another was entirely unspecific. I realize that yes, each editor has their tastes and that’s awesome. What’s not awesome for me personally is figuring out what some of the guidelines JUST for cover letters means. In the past year or so I’ve been told by editors that my cover letters have been too formal, not enough information, and one editor (in what I hope was an attempt to be cheeky) kind of made fun of what I’d said. While I am in fact very serious about writing, I am not super serious about myself. I’m a dorky silly person. For me personally that part of the process is entirely nerve wracking.
- Shortcomings. Related to number 1, I have a confession to make that editors who’ve read and rejected my work already know. My knowledge and use of grammar is not super awesome. The thing is, it’s not for lack of working at it. I study and try but it’s just not something in my particular skill set. Recently another author told me that I will never have success because of this. I don’t know that I believe that. I do believe that this particular failing makes things ten times more difficult for me and erodes at my confidence. So I do apologize in advance to every future editor who must suffer my misplaced commas and occasional refusal to use the punctuation suggested by Word. Also aside from this failing, I do honestly prefer simple punctuation and I enjoy my occasional weird usage. My apologies.
- When it feels like editors/readers at mags just don’t give a shit. By this I mean when I’ve gotten rejections that are not at all punctuated. Have mystery abbreviated words. One liner inanities. This post is partially spurred by a one liner where the subtext is (at least to my eyes) “we don’t give a shit about you or what you have to say”. I queried a magazine about an opinion piece I submitted more than four months ago. I asked politely if my piece had a.) been received and b.) what the status was. It was brief. In return I got “No we didn’t read it.” I was not addressed by name or even with a cut and pasted “Dear Author” there was no name signed that was it. Dear Editors, please regardless of how busy you are don’t do that. It is so insulting. Insulting enough that I withdrew the piece and won’t be reading that magazine or supporting their events anymore because I’m known to hold a grudge.
- Shyness. I am shy. When it comes to interacting with people whom I admire/respect etc I get tongue tied and awkward. I love reading author/lit blogs but it is an effort for me to comment. I always feel vaguely embarrassed. Especially when it comes to other authors. I get unreasonably nervous. I feel like I may say something stupid or inappropriate because I have a habit of saying inappropriate things sometimes. I have moments where I think okay, this person writes really fucking awesome things and what the fuck am I doing trying to play along like I’m in this club? I’m making headway in dealing with that but fuck it’s hard. Social networking makes it even harder for me.
I think that’s all that’s bothering me today.
Things are not all doom and gloom. My computer at home is alive and kicking. I did lose some work on The. Essay book but I’m recovering at a good pace. I’m still scared shitless about this but I’m determined to see it through my way. I’m working on my writing short comings. I am going to ask for someone to get me the latest style guide, the one I have is old and frankly I don’t even know where to begin to keep up on that.
A lot of my issues about writing are coming from an inadequacy filled place. I’m feeling a little worked to the bone. Being a short fiction author who is pretty much unknown feels like an exercise in epic pain slut level masochism. I love it but I hate it. It terrifies and energizes me. It keeps me going and stops me dead in my tracks.
Today I’m going to try to finish editing an essay. I’m going to try to be nice to myself and support myself. I’m also going to write like a mother fucker cause mother fucker that’s what I do. (that is a Saul Williams reference by the way)