aamcnamara: (Default)
Wrote this up a bit ago, posting since a couple of people said it would be interesting to read. I've only ever read slush for Ideomancer, but based on that and my experience with submitting stories and reading other writers' anecdotes of submitting stories, these are all pretty general. Proportions of form/personal rejections vary with market, of course; a site like Duotrope can give you an idea of that ratio.

Rejectomancy is very tempting as a writer. "What did they mean?" and "did they like it?" and "did they hate it?" "do they hate me?"

1. "Not right for us" has approximately fifty meanings. No one can tell which one is applicable except the person sending the letter.
2. Getting a response either more quickly or more slowly than the estimated time online...well, mostly means nothing. Except "I need time later in the week for this other stuff" or "ohgod finals slush will have to wait" or "I traded a piece of slush with someone, and theirs came in later but I'm doing slush now so I may as well get it done" or something else unrelated to the submitted piece in question.
(2a. Exception: if it's over the stated response time, you may query.)
3. A personalized rejection and a rewrite request can be structured and worded similarly, but they are not the same thing.
(3a. Usually, if a personalized rejection letter lists one downside of a story, that is not the only reason that they aren't taking it. That just happens to be the most obvious reason they aren't taking it. If that was the only reason, they'd ask you to rewrite and resubmit.)
(3b. If I read and responded to the same story twice, say in two different months, I would
i) give it the same class of response (pass up, rewrite, rejection) and
ii) if rejecting it, probably give a different reason each time, depending on what was jumping out at me that day/week/month.)
4. Each story really is considered on its own merits.
4a. Names do sometimes ring bells--probably not for bigger markets that have huge slush piles, but at Ideomancer sometimes they do--sometimes I happen to get several stories from the same person. But it dissociates from their prior stories, it's just "oh, that name looks familiar". Maaaaybe "oh, I remember her last submission was really close". I used to get all flinchy about submitting, 'what if they don't like it and then they hate me'--that doesn't happen. (Possibly I'll frown at your con badge because your name is familiar and I can't remember why.)
4b. Publishing credits in a cover letter don't do much for me as a slush reader. It's nice, sometimes, but the story is what we're considering. I have loved stories with bare-bones cover letters, and been meh about stories that came in with impressive publishing credits in the cover letter.
5. Personal preference can never completely be avoided, but slush readers do try to get their brains out of the way of the story.

These transfer to not freaking out when I submit stories, and have partially but not entirely transferred to not freaking out about submitting a novel query to agents. There's stuff to be learned from slush-reading about the actual work with words of writing, too, but most of that doesn't fit neatly into lists.
aamcnamara: (Default)
1. I had a Readercon! I met some people I had previously known only as Internet usernames, including Leah Bobet (with whom I chatted sitting in the hall outside the very awesome and entirely too warm Interstitial party on Friday evening) and Brit Mandelo (with whom I failed to have any conversation, but waved at in passing), and saw some of those people one only sees at conventions (like Ellen and Delia, or Claire Cooney and Pattie Templeton, whose name I am probably spelling wrong), and met a couple of excellent people for the first time, and saw [livejournal.com profile] vcmw and [livejournal.com profile] aliseadae, which was fabulous.
1.5. I did not get Delany to sign my copy of Stars In My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, because apparently I left it in Minnesota.

2. I have now taken the Starburst Challenge, which means little if you did not go to the summer writing camp [livejournal.com profile] aliseadae and I attended as junior high/high school students. (We were so young then!) It is where you are given a Starburst and have to unwrap it with your eyes closed and determine what flavor it is, and it is a Thing at MITY. When I actually was at MITY, I did not know whether I could eat Starbursts. Lately I discovered that I can. So Sally and I went in together on an extremely expensive package of Starbursts from the hotel lobby shop and I took the Challenge standing on a grassy slope by the Burlington Marriott parking lot.

3. Sally and Kate polkaed down the hallways of Readercon.

4. I now have extensive notes, plus bits of actual text, on a short story and a novel, both of which I just need to sit down and draft, dammit, except that I keep not being near a computer (and when I am, doing such important things as Checking My Email And Marking All Those Emails I Saw When I Checked It At Work As Read On My Computer).

5. ... Also I got a really nice rejection on my flash fiction "Katabasis" and I intend to change a couple of things and send it out again, but I haven't yet.

6. I read some books on my commute, but I forgot to write them up for a post and lately I've been using that time to write (or, well, think about stories), so there you have it. Not totally destitute of books, but busy. (I got a library card yesterday. So there may yet be more books.)

7. Yes, this entire post is "I have a brain! Really! Sometimes! It's just buried under... things!"

8. In mad-scientist news, part of my job involves testing things at higher and higher voltages until they produce large purple sparks and stop working.
aamcnamara: (Default)
1. Finally read Gun With Occasional Music. I think I had read it before; in the light of having read The Big Sleep and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, it read very differently. This completes my Noiry (Cyberpunk) Trifecta.

2. Tipping The Velvet. omg, the cloooothes.

3. Very much anticipating the new Bordertown anthology. (I will like it even more when I get to read it!)

4. Getting nice rejection letters, and finding new markets to send said story out to that I think, well, hope will really like them. It's satisfying in a whole different way than working on novels.

5. Wolfram Alpha, which saved me from integrating by parts at least five times today.

6. Thanksgiving break this week, after just two days of classes!

7. Yesterday.

(Things I do not like include the way my dorm hallway smells right now. Seriously, people? Some of us need to do laundry.)
aamcnamara: (Default)
If I were someone else, I might stay up a few more hours until I could reach four pages. Because I would like to finish this draft in July, and it'll take about four pages per day for me to get there.

But, you know what, I will write more than four pages some days, it's not the end of the world if I miss that self-imposed deadline by a couple of days, and tonight I just want to go to bed.

Today I went to visit the Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth's Creative Writing class in the Expand Your Mind program. These are a lot of words. When I was in the class, though, we just called it Craiggy Wriggy. (Along with several other things--but that's what stuck for me.) I was in the class--what, four years in a row, I think. In 2008, I went off and did Odyssey instead, and in 2009 I made the (tough!) decision not to go back.

At any rate, it definitely contributed a lot to who I am today, as a writer and a person--I found a lot of friends there, learned a lot, and really, it's fantastic to spend two weeks just writing. I mean, you can do that kind of in the summer anyway, but to have that time marked off and delineated was quite nice.

So it was awesome to go back, and say hi to the teachers, and listen to the reading of these people who are maybe just starting out on the writing-journey. (Not that I am that much further along, but still.) Most of them I'd probably like to get to know, still, too. I don't know how, but they get a good bunch of students every year.

When I got back home, I found another rejection note for "As Large as Alone" waiting in my inbox. Of course, I opened the file up, said, "This is horrible! Why did I think anyone would ever want this?" and spent about half an hour kicking myself and half an hour getting down to business and rewriting the beginning. Fortunately, I think I managed to fix something that was wrong with it before (and had known was wrong with it since I submitted it the first time) and not break anything else. Fingers crossed and all, naturally. So that'll be out again soon, I hope.

Anyway, page count:
237 / 350
aamcnamara: (Default)
Rejection today from Interfictions 2. I like to send stories back out again right away, but I can't think of a market for this one, and now I'm having doubts about if it really is any good, anyway, and shouldn't I just rewrite it completely?

Which way lies madness, of course.


On the school front, about a million projects are due next week. And essays. Also papers. (And all the paperwork for applying for financial aid--it's enough to make a girl wish for standardized processes to get rid of all these weird deadlines, or at least for it to be next year, when I'll only have to deal with one college's crazy ideas of what makes a good financial aid timeline.)

Fleet on the heels of that will come the deadline for my Presidential Scholars application. One of 3,000 candidates in the country is, at the very least, better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick; on the other hand, it means filling out an application that's as large as most of the college applications I did.

This next one is entirely my fault for finding: a physics summer program that looks awesome and to which I want to apply. Which isn't so much a chore, except that it's another thing to write in my planner and agonize over not doing.

And I wonder why I'm stressed.

(Tangent: Usually, I can work at a fierce and high level of concentration. I always want to have a higher goal than I've achieved; this is why teachers who give me A's on essay drafts and no comments on how to make it better frustrate me. This works, except when that fierce and high level of concentration lapses, and I still have those sky-high ideals of What I Ought To Be Able To Do. I am not sure what to do about this, except to try to remember this and treat myself kindly.)
aamcnamara: (Default)



The Universe:

No school for two weeks.

Papers I have to write over winter break:

* ~4000 word essay on the motif of angels in Ursula K. Le Guin's PARADISES LOST and Elizabeth Bear's DUST (final draft; I have a rough draft and a promise of comments)
* 1200-1600 word essay on the usefulness of simplifying things in one's life (final draft; I have a rough draft)
* 1200-1600 word essay on the representation of Iago (OTHELLO) and Raskolnikov's (CRIME AND PUNISHMENT) characters through their monologues (rough draft)

Also, my college applications.



Rejections on "Sun and Spirits" have been piling up lately. Strange Horizons, Fantasy Magazine, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies have all passed on it within the space of a couple of weeks. I'm not sure where it's going out next, but it's going somewhere.

My Writers of the Future entry for this past quarter received no recognition--but then, I knew that it probably would be.

I managed to get "The Mermaids, Singing" together in time to submit it to Interfictions 2.

I need to start another story. Rewriting stories from Odyssey is fine and dandy, but I also should be writing new pieces. Winter break should help with the having-time thing.
aamcnamara: (Default)
I am unreasonably proud of it, maybe because it means that I actually got up the courage/fortitude/momentum to send the darn thing out.

I plan to hang it on my wall. Hopefully it will not spend very much time there alone.

... of course, some acceptances would be nice, too, but I don't have much control over that end of it. All I can do is keep sending things out--which I will.

On the rewriting front, I have some notion of how to revise one of the other stories I wrote at Odyssey. On the writing front, I've gotten a few ideas, but they are clearly all cliched and terrible.

August 2015

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