If you follow my blog, you’ve likely noticed that I’ve only been posting once a week as of late, instead of maintaining my regular twice a-week schedule.
I assure you, it’s not the start of a long, downward slide into a static webpage, but rather the outward sign of me taking things easy for a bit while I wait for feedback on my most recent draft of the novel.
When I finished the last version and handed it off to a few trusted friends, I really just needed to rest. I needed to sleep in past my 5am writing date, and go to a few of my girl’s soccer games on the weekend (instead of locking myself up to write, write, write). That was early April, and I told myself then that I would not stress about writing until after my birthday.
Well guess what. I am now officially in my late thirties (though I maintain that 36 is late-mid thirties), and it’s time to get back to it. I already got feedback from two of my readers, and I’m waiting on word from four more. It’s time to reach out and set up dates for feedback sessions.
In the meantime, I got a lovely rejection letter for my most recent short story submission yesterday. It’s rare that editors take the time to actually send notes, and she was very flattering – saying how she really liked it, but it was a little too grounded in reality for their publication (which surprised me, as I submitted to them because I thought the journal would be a good match for my story) – but it was a rejection nonetheless.
Oh well, onward and upward. I’ve already sent the story to the next journal on my list. I’m still in my top ten, so I’m not feeling too down about it.
An acceptance letter would certainly be a nice ego boost as I head into the next round of work on the novel.
I heard someone say once that you can tell a lot about any given line of work by the verbs used to describe how people find it. Actors audition, sales clerks apply, executives are head-hunted, and writers submit.
This weekend, I wrapped up a short story that I plan to submit to journals. It’s a story I wrote in grad school, and as soon as it was done I started sending it out to the best of the best journals (or at least my favorites): AGNI, Glimmer Train, One Story, and more. Sadly, the story wasn’t ready. Back then I had this attitude of “good enough.” I knew there were holes in the narrative, but I figured no one else would notice. Rookie mistake.
After 32 rejections I stopped submitting it and put it aside for a while.
Then, a couple weeks ago, when I decided to take a break from the novel, I went back to it. What I’ve learned, since I last worked on it, is that readers will notice holes that I as the writer will never see. So I reworked it until I honestly thought it was perfect, then I had my writing group review it, patched up the holes they found, then I had my guy take one last pass, and was excited when he only had a couple minor notes.
So tonight I will begin the submission process again. Sadly, I have ruined any shot of acceptance at the fancier journals, as they have already rejected it, but the good news is there are hundreds, if not thousands, of journals out there. By searching online I have found another 30 that seem to be good matches for my particular narrative – lovely journals, with totally respectable distributions. I’m going to follow the same process I did last time. I will submit to the top five on my list, then, as rejections come in, as rejections will, I will just send it out to the next journal on the list.
If I get through another 30 submissions without an acceptance, well, then, I’ll have to do some serious reassessing. And I think that’s why the word submission seems so apt. This process feels like groveling. Like crawling forward on my knees with pages in my out-stretched hands, head lowered.
Well, here goes nothing.
Back in September my agent began sending out the proposal I wrote for a non-fiction book about Monsanto. It was titled “Nonsanto” and it was all about my attempts to avoid Monsanto products for a whole month last March.
After waiting a few weeks, we received the nicest rejections. Seriously, I had prepared myself for a beating, given everything that I’ve heard about how harsh the publishing world can be, but these publishers were really quite nice. Here are a few excerpts:
“I’m attracted to this idea and to April Davila, who has such a nice presence on the page….”
“The author has a great voice and I really enjoyed reading through it…”
and my personal favorite:
“Davila obviously has a very bright future ahead of her, and I have no doubt her experience as a scientist will give her a unique perspective to take on this subject from all angles….”
But then, the ellipses were shortly followed by the reason they couldn’t take on the book. Some had similar projects on their slates already, and some where weary of the “Month/year of” type book. It seems to be the general consensus of the publishing industry that “Eat, Pray, Love,” was the pinnacle of the “Month/year of” books and that they’re on the down swing from here on out.
So my agent and I went back to the drawing board and re-conceived the idea for the book. On Monday I sent her the revised version of the proposal now titled “Monsanto: How a company you’ve never heard of controls what you eat, drink and wear.”
Though loosely based on my experiences last year, it’s a much more in depth look at the evolution of the company, and how it has come to dominate our food supply.
Anyhow, my agent is reading the version over and I am waiting to hear her thoughts. In the meantime, this is a perfect time to sneak in a few hours with my fiction.
Fingers crossed for the little guy to take a long nap today.