Friday, June 28, 2013

Boy, You Gotta Hammer That Nail

I am tired of rejections. That's all I have to say about it right now.

Recent reads include the fifth Chelsea Cain thriller, Kill You Twice, which was as awesome as the rest of them, if not more so; Tana French's first book, In the Woods, which didn't commit as much Olympic-level emotional archery as Faithful Place but which was very nearly as good; Lorrie Moore's Anagrams, which was genuinely interesting but not something I'd necessarily recommend; Douglas Starr's The Killer of Little Shepherds, which was fascinating and well worth reading but stopped just short of being ah-may-zing; and Elyn Saks's The Center Cannot Hold, one of the best books about mental illness I ever hope to read. Remarkable in more than a few ways, and gave me a far superior handle on schizophrenia than I'd had before. Also, I finally finished Ghosts by Gaslight, and what a mixed anthology. Some of the stories bored me silly, and others were so captivating I wanted to read them again when I was finished.

I know there are more books I've finished recently, but I neglected to write them down. Do you guys want me to link to Amazon for this stuff? I could, but I don't figure I have the kind of influence where you want to run right out and buy a book that I've loved. (Plus, four of six of the books above came through my library. Love your libe!)


Okay, so maybe that wasn't all I had to say about rejections. I reread my New Year's resolutions this week, and one of them was to be in beginner's mind when writing. I think I'm succeeding at this, slowly; trying to just write well, make each story better than the last, and zip up any consideration of anything else. I get frustrated with the question of how good it has to be before I get a bleeding acceptance, of course, but attempting to write well for the sake of writing well feels good.

Nevertheless, when I am certain I'm improving, when I've read stuff in the market that's exactly like the stuff I'm sending, when I just want to be thrown a bone, it's depressing.

Too, this has been on my mind a lot lately. Go skim it and come back.

The list of mags that's rejected him and the number of times they've done so (near the end) just will not leave my head. 13 tries at one magazine? I never ever would have thought of being so persistent. After five tries, I'd probably say "okay, their style and my style don't mesh" and move on. But no, not this guy. And I note that he has piles of publishing credits, all over the place, and I think, well, obviously he knows something I don't know. And I think the thing he knows that I don't is PERSISTENCE, which is a different quality than persistence. (I'd like to pin this on gender, but that doesn't seem like a wise idea.) The latter is just continuing to try and get published, sending stuff out to market after market; the former is hammering at the same nail until it goes directly into the concrete.

I don't know about that, though. Aren't you just going to bend the nail? Further thought is needed.

On Sunday I drive north to Big Sur, to Esalen, where I'll be at a week-long workshop with Cheryl Strayed and Pam Houston. I am looking forward to this so much that I'm jealous of myself. So, until next week (or perhaps the week after), adieu.


Anonymous said...

I totally understand. I am an actor turned writer, and have recently posed the question--to myself--when is it time to call it quits? At some point, logic should intervene and I should realize that I am chasing the definition of insanity, "doing the same thing ad nauseum expecting a different result." At some point, you do have to question your own abilities and belief in those abilities. I say, throw logic to the wind. Send your queries. Write your dreams and one day, near or far, you will accomplish them. Just my opinion. Thanks for the blog.

Katharine Coldiron said...

Thanks for stopping by! I imagine there are a lot of parallels between the problem of whether to give up the ghost as an actor and as a writer.