So yea, 2016. This wounded artery of a year.
But, I am able to share good news for once: I sold my first short story, to be published in a Science Fiction Anthology either this Dec or Jan. The contract is signed and the publisher working away on the printing. I’ll share the details once it’s put up for sale.
Honestly, this is amazing news. I’ve worked very hard to get here, and hopefully this is the start of a writing career. I have several other subs out, so I’m hoping to keep up the momentum!
This particular story was rejected 6 times- but the sub times were long. One publication held it for five months, so I lost some time there. I finished the story in March 2015, after it went through eight drafts. The rewrites were helped along by Critters (I’ll report to them this “Woohoo!” once published) and one last, very incisive critique by a major magazine editor.
Making art is hard work. Lots of rejection, lots of technical and creative skills required, many late nights spent just trying to hit a word count so that they day can be considered well spent.
So, here’s to my little story. Hurrah!
So if you get published, suddenly, the hobby you indulged in while away from life and work becomes a job. Does the magic stick?
Reading an article by Jaye Wells is an eye opener:
Turns out, I started out right. I found a hobby that was rewarding and fun. It was when I became a pro that I got off track. See, what I figured out is that everyone needs a hobby. We each need something that doesn’t have ego or income tied to it. When my hobby became my job, I lost that safe space where I could create without fear.
I started this one in 2013! Finished it last week- put up a side-by-side progress pic here for comparison. Canson paper with 2B pencil. Some HB for lighter areas.
New drawing starting this week!
Well, that’s not nothing, folks. I’m pleased. This was my first short story entry in the Writer’s of the Future Contest, so I’m encouraged to submit again and get better.
So many authors have gone through this contest, and many of them start as Honorable Mentions. I did some searching to see how rare it is and found this:
Honorable Mentions are between 5 and 15 percent each quarter. It depends on how many good stories there were.
There is no set number on semi-finalists either but it is approximately 8 to 12 per quarter.
There are 8 finalists always. Those are the stories that get sent to the quarterly judges and the 3 winners are chosen from the 8 finalists.
I’m going to get a certificate in the mail from the publishing house, and I promptly found a market to submit the story to. What a nice feeling- the wind is in my sails today!
Hurry, everyone! Click on this poll and vote for Aliens! It’s asking which film in a sci-fi franchise is the best. The answer is OBVIOUS.
And yea, after I saw this movie, I was like, “People should call me NEWT!”
So go do your part for humanity.
Boston Comic Con Starts tomorrow! The Boston Globe had a funny piece up about how to treat VIPs at a a Con. Basically, “treat them like people, guys.”
Me, I’m not in it to stand in line for a Q&A panel. Stan Lee is going to be there and I’m ok not standing armpit-to-armpit in some conference room. I mean, he’s great! I just go to nerd out about the back-issues and see cool new art and take random selfies with cosplayers.
I’ll probably buy way too much swag “for my kids.”
Learning a traditional method is hard: I spent six months on a graphite value scale where I had to master my darkest dark and get progressively lighter until nothing was left but the white of the paper. Six. Months. I have to do this every time I use a different medium and every time I decided to use a different kind of paper, and this has to be done before attempting a drawing.
Example of Value scale in charcoal
Now, maybe I’m running into the wrong people, but art students can spot each other a mile away in the city. (It has something to do with carrying a large bag that’s holding 18 x 20 art board I guess!) Whenever I tell people what I’m working on, the reactions are usually in the following category:
“That sounds too hard!”
“Ick, I wouldn’t want to be bad at something before getting good.”
“I can’t take criticism. Art is subjective.”
Now, I’m sorry, but nobody would say this about music. If someone is in music school, and they tell you they are practicing their scales so many hours a day, we consider that right and noble. Once a musician learns the basics, internalizes them with HOURS of practice she then moves on to performing pieces composed by masters before branching out and experimenting with her own creativity. Art is the same: learn value, form, shadow-shapes, measuring, big form modeling, and then move on to master copies so that you can learn to solve the problems the great artists did.
You don’t just get to buy cheap acrylics and a canvas and decide you’re the next Kandinsky by pure power of the will. It’s so arrogant!
Possible head shot? Are you fooled into thinking I’m professional? 🙂
I got one of the best rejection letters I have ever received this past month. The editor took the time to outline what he really liked about my writing, expressed that the quality of my prose surprised him since I told him I was unpublished, and he told me he expected I’d find a home for my stories. He then let me submit again, even though he had a one-story-per-author rule, just so he could see what else I had.
If I ever get to be an editor, I want to be like that.
I can honestly say that everyone I have met in the sci-fi publishing world so far is really great and welcoming. If I’m lucky enough to get to be a part of that world someday, I’ll be grateful.
I also got my fist acceptance! It’s a first issue of a literary webzine that specializes in genre-bending prose and poetry. I’ll be sure to link to it once it goes live.
My Writing Process
Between working and taking care of my lovely kiddos, writing is hard to find time for. So, I decided to just stay consistent:
- Write 50-500 words a day, at night or in the morning. I just do it. I don’t care if it’s good, I just do it.
- I made sure to give myself realistic goals. I don’t sit around thinking, “I’m going to get a best-selling novel published!” Instead, I think, “I want to work very hard at getting published in X Magazine.” Maybe X Magazine rejects me few times. It will only make publication with them all the more sweet.
- Read. A. Lot. One of the pitfalls I found myself in this week was in being unoriginal. I wrote a story that followed a popular sci-fi trope, and the editor told me that while my writing was great and enjoyable, it wasn’t original enough to make it to the second round. This would be like, say, submitting a vampire story to a horror magazine. The editor is going to put it in a pile with other vampire stories and your competition might beat you.
I’m having so much fun on this little journey. Honestly, that’s the ultimate test.
This gem was written by me in 2011 when I worked for an online school- it was a prompt I created for high school kids studying Keats’ Ode to a Grecian Urn. The assignment: Replace the urn with an object you love and write your own poem. Well, I loved that Buick. Got me through college relatively unscathed.
Playing around- classes start the 15th, but until them just having some fun.
Some Carrie Fisher for amusement:
And of course, the latest study:
Latest study- before rendering
It takes me about 6 months to do justice to one of these bargues- will take it in for a critique before proceeding.