Current Mixed Feelings

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We once roamed the vast forums of Corona Coming Attractions. Some of us had been around from The Before Times, in the Days of Excelsior, while others of us had only recently begun our trek. When our home became filled with much evil, including the villainous Cannot-Post-in-This-Browser and the dreaded Cannot-Log-In, we flounced away most huffily to this new home away from home. We follow the flag of Jubboiter and talk about movies, life, the universe, and everything, often in a most vulgar fashion. All are welcome here, so long as they do not take offense to our particular idiom.
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Re: Current Mixed Feelings

Post by Dalty » June 20th, 2015, 12:31 pm

Go to work every day and do your best. But don't worry about them and their feelings. Do your best because that is what they pay you for. Beyond that, there is no deal. They will not worry about you, so don't worry about them. That's my one coaching tip.

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Re: Current Mixed Feelings

Post by Mal Shot First » June 20th, 2015, 9:11 pm

Sorry to hear about the jobs, Jubbers. :(

Look at it this way, though: You can keep looking and applying for jobs that you would rather be doing, but at least in the meantime you don't have to worry about where the money is going to come from to support your family - and you even get health insurance. Could be worse. ;)

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Re: Current Mixed Feelings

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » June 21st, 2015, 10:42 am

I submitted a story to Asimov's, and it was rejected. The rejection's not a big deal, since rejections are common and are a part of the process.

My feelings are mixed on the whole thing because the rejection came with this oddly specific note: "By the way, we do not consider ourselves a flash-fiction market. We very rarely publish stories under 1000 words."

Most rejections come with a form letter, and this one was no different. They usually thank you for letting them read your story, tell you it's not what they're looking for at present, and encourage you to try to get it published elsewhere. They almost never include anything specific unless your story almost made the cut/was considered exceptional in some way.

Another thing that's weird is that I got the rejection two weeks after I sent it. They claim their average response time is five weeks. They have tons of stuff to read. Rejections have tended to come, in my experience, later than the claimed average response time.

Y'all know me. Still the same OG. There's no way I could write a story under 1,000 words. This one was 8,000 words. It was over 10,000 words at one time, but I edited the shit out of it, cut about 3,000 words, and added about 1,000 more. At no time has any version of it ever been under 1,000 words. It makes me wonder if the file they got was somehow cut off. It shouldn't have been. I've sent the same file to a number of people, and they've all gotten the full document. You'd also think she'd notice if the story just cut off mid-sentence. You're also asked to put your story's word count in the cover letter. I did this. She should have known what to expect, length-wise. (If Jakester were still here, the previous line would look like Jakesterbait.)

I sent a brief note thanking the editor for her prompt response and asking about the odd note at the end, but the story's already rejected and deleted from their system. It's a good thing, on some level, since Analog was where I had originally intended to send it.

The only reason I had gone with Asimov's was that Analog claimed to be closed to electronic submissions until July or August. I wanted to send it off as quickly as possible to keep myself from tinkering with it, and I didn't have the funds, at the time, to print it out and mail a hard copy to Analog.

Oddly enough, Analog reopened to electronic submissions earlier than it said it would, so I went ahead and submitted it to them.

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Re: Current Mixed Feelings

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » June 21st, 2015, 10:56 am

Shit. I just remembered that Fantasy & Sci-Fi was the one I originally wanted to send it to. They have a new editor, and he seems to be more open to the kind of story I just wrote. Analog's a long shot, since it's more character-driven and less tech-heavy.

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Re: Current Mixed Feelings

Post by Mal Shot First » June 21st, 2015, 4:07 pm

I still owe you an e-mail response about that. Sorry, been busy preparing to move at the end of the month (and I guess KotOR also took up about 10 hours of my time).

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Re: Current Mixed Feelings

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » June 21st, 2015, 5:29 pm

It's all good, dawg.

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Re: Current Mixed Feelings

Post by Space Tycoon » June 22nd, 2015, 7:07 am

I really should write something.

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Re: Current Mixed Feelings

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » June 22nd, 2015, 8:41 am

Do you have stories you want to tell?

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Re: Current Mixed Feelings

Post by Space Tycoon » June 22nd, 2015, 8:52 am

Yeah, I have at least a few good ones. In my opinion anyhoo. More in the novel-sized department.

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Re: Current Mixed Feelings

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » June 22nd, 2015, 8:56 am

Writing longer things can require a lot of a person's nerves and patience. If you're not used to writing longer sustained narratives, it can also be pretty exhausting. The more you write, the easier it gets. You build up a tolerance for it, the same way a guitarist's fingers build up calluses.

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Re: Current Mixed Feelings

Post by Space Tycoon » June 22nd, 2015, 9:17 am

I've been writing a bit lately... actually my schedule has been shifted, instead of working five eight hour days, I now work four ten-hour days. Monday can be my day for writing and/or editing.

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Re: Current Mixed Feelings

Post by Dalty » June 22nd, 2015, 12:39 pm

I tried to write a book once. Had the whole thing sketched out. I got up to eight chapters. Found it again a while back and read it. It was awful.

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Re: Current Mixed Feelings

Post by Space Tycoon » June 22nd, 2015, 1:08 pm

I'm sure it wasn't as bad as all that.

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Re: Current Mixed Feelings

Post by Space Tycoon » June 22nd, 2015, 2:40 pm

Hey, if Damon Lindelof can find steady employment writing science fiction, surely one of us can as well.

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Re: Current Mixed Feelings

Post by neglet » June 22nd, 2015, 8:18 pm

Maybe the one who's actually going to school for it .... Planning a middle-grade sci fi for next term.

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Re: Current Mixed Feelings

Post by neglet » June 22nd, 2015, 8:21 pm

Not to say you need schooling to write well, but I sure am learning a lot about structure, pacing, tension, etc etc.

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Re: Current Mixed Feelings

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » June 22nd, 2015, 9:27 pm

Schooling can be useful. Some people need the structure to light the initial fire and point them toward something resembling productivity. It can introduce them to genres, styles, and authors they might otherwise never have encountered, and it can go a long way toward helping writers find kindred spirits and build up various support networks. Having other friends who write can be encouraging, since they're more than likely going through a lot of what you're going through. Getting their feedback and engaging them in a little friendly competition from time to time can also be good. (It can, of course, be discouraging if they're getting published and you're not. Friendly competition can also turn sour pretty quickly. It depends on the personality types of the people involved.)

You can make some decent contacts in writing programs. That's a big plus. So's learning how and when to write more for your audience than for yourself. You can also find out how best to go about submitting your work, finding an agent, etc. It's really only a waste of time and money if you, personally, feel it is a waste of time and money. If it enriches your love of the craft and inspires you to work harder and get better, it's a good thing. It does these things for some, and it doesn't for others. The only way to know for certain whether or not it will be a benefit to you is if you do it.

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Re: Current Mixed Feelings

Post by neglet » June 22nd, 2015, 9:30 pm

I'm having a ton of fun, so for me it's definitely worth it.

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Re: Current Mixed Feelings

Post by Dalty » June 23rd, 2015, 1:03 pm

I always thought I would be better at a screenplay. But like my abortive attempts at a novel I am sure a ton of good ideas isn't enough on its own.

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Re: Current Mixed Feelings

Post by Mal Shot First » June 23rd, 2015, 2:36 pm

I always liked the idea of writing some kind of prose text, but I never had any good ideas for one. And apparently, I'm not that great a writer either.

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Re: Current Mixed Feelings

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » June 23rd, 2015, 2:58 pm

You're a solid writer, Mal. Who told you otherwise?

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Re: Current Mixed Feelings

Post by Mal Shot First » June 23rd, 2015, 3:18 pm

No, I don't mean to say that I can't write. Obviously, I can put sentences together and convey meaning in a clear fashion. I just don't have a knack for fiction writing.

Nobody has told me this explicitly, and I've never actually tried to submit any original writing to a journal. However, I've tried my hand and translation more than once, both in fiction and nonfiction, and was rejected each time. Two of those times, I had entered a translation prize competition where the objective was to translate excerpts of contemporary German prose into English. Both times, I could see that the winning entries were more "writerly" than what I had submitted. I recently applied for a freelance gig to translate an academic monograph on feminism from English to German. The application consisted of a ten-page sample translation from any part of the source text. They ended up going with a different candidate because her text read "more fluidly."

I admit that while I am a native or near-native speaker of German, academic prose is definitely not my strong suit - more so in German than in English. In any case, I don't think I have a problem conveying information, like I said; it's more of an issue of conveying it in an interesting way, which is what writing is really about.

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Re: Current Mixed Feelings

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » June 23rd, 2015, 4:25 pm

Mal Shot First wrote:I've tried my hand and translation more than once, both in fiction and nonfiction, and was rejected each time. Two of those times, I had entered a translation prize competition where the objective was to translate excerpts of contemporary German prose into English. Both times, I could see that the winning entries were more "writerly" than what I had submitted.
A lot of people were rejected. I'm sure some good stuff got tossed to the side. I think you've improved as a writer since I've met you. I'm sure working toward your doctorate and learning to develop and express your thoughts helped. Writing on a message board probably also helped.

I never take it that hard when I get a rejection. The Glimmer Train sisters claim to read 40,000 submissions a year. I may not like all the submissions they choose to include in their journal, but I'm sure they get a ton of what I would consider to be great writing. For all I know, they may receive and reject 200 or more stories every year that I would find to be some of the best writing I had ever read.

I've seen at least one of the translation prize's winning submissions, and I didn't care for it. It was "writerly," but it was writerly in way that annoys me. I think the text it was translating might have also been writerly in this way. Maybe there was no getting around it. (One of the reasons I never entered was that I knew I wouldn't be able to trust myself to be faithful to the original.) I remember thinking it would have been cool to see some of the non-winning submissions. I suspected I might have preferred one of the ones that didn't win.

The translation prize competition was judged by academics, wasn't it? I feel like a lot of academics equate smart-sounding writing with "good" writing. (This doesn't mean smart-sounding writing can't be good writing. Smart-sounding writing may sound that way because it is that way.)

Writerly writing--by which I mean some combination of heavy stylization, purple prose, and nickel SAT words--is the downfall of a lot of writers with good ideas. I kept thinking while reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, recently, how much stronger a piece of writing it would feel to me if I weren't so distracted by Chabon's bells and whistles. He seemed very pleased with himself throughout. I suspect he would be unable to pass a vocabulary quiz consisting only of words taken from the book. It seemed he was going out of his way to use technical terms, antiquated words, chiefly British words, and various other words that didn't feel as though they had come into the text organically.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. What do I know?

Excessively plain prose is also a form of stylization. It can also fit the "writerly" bill. Some writers fetishize it to the point that it becomes a distraction. It can be flat, jarring, and repetitive. Most of the writers who overdo it are Sherwood Anderson, Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Carver, Kurt Vonnegut, or pulp devotees. I'm certainly guilty of overdoing it.

I've also been guilty of overdoing it on the purple prose end. There's a sweet spot somewhere in between purple prose and Hemingway's Iceberg Theory style. It's incredibly hard to hit.

One of the problems people have when trying to replicate Anderson's or Hemingway's style is that they think it's all about flat and unadorned prose. That's a big part of it, but it's also about omission. It's about picking and choosing what to say and when to say it.

The Dogme 95 and mumblecore filmmakers do something similar to what a lot of the embryo Hemingways do. They try capture things "as they are" with as little artifice as possible. It's a kind of neo-naturalism. I find a lot of it dull as shit, and I come away from it feeling like it's shoved up its own smug ass.

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Re: Current Mixed Feelings

Post by Mango » June 24th, 2015, 9:08 pm

So after 17 years my mother has begun corresponding with me.

I'm not sure how I really feel about that. I just realized that is actually half of my life.

She was not a good mother, and for a bulk of the last 17 years I didn't even know where she was. I had made an effort to contact her around 4 years ago but it didn't pan out. I did come away from it feeling pretty OK and have decided that I hold no malice towards her anymore.

But man...talking to her on the phone...
And I just send her an email and got stuck at the end for a few minutes trying to sign it; do I say "your son" or "Love" or "peace out"?
I went with love, but it felt real weird. She's a stranger, but then again I have hugged random strangers before.

So weird.

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Re: Current Mixed Feelings

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » June 24th, 2015, 10:49 pm

Mango,

I just go with "Best." Everybody gets "Best." Family. Friends. Superiors. Strangers.

It's not that I'm wishing them the best. It's that I'm tellin' 'em how it is. Who's the best? Ol' Goiter is.

Best,
Ol' Goiter

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