I have lived my life with assumptions. Not about science or politics, but just general assumptions that I gained by growing up with my parents. I assumed that if I worked hard and lived right, by now I would be financially secure – nope. I assumed that I would have relatively painless childbirth because my mother had painless childbirth – wrong again. And I had assumed that my parents – being such young parents – would be around for longer.
As a small child, I had assumed I would be rich and famous by now. That one I managed to understand was unrealistic quite early on. I’m still hopeful, but also not stressed by the prospect of smaller expectations. People are reading my stories and that is a great satisfaction to me. Since I’m always working towards improving my writing, there is still the chance I might make it bigtime.
I guess we all think we are the exception to the rules of life. I though I was a golden child, one of the chosen ones, because I could write. I thought my parents were special, and would live forever. I didn’t think bad things could happen to us. Not us!
How could my brilliant and charismatic mother die so young?
In some ways, I have been very lucky. I have the world’s best husband, gorgeous and clever children, and the loveliest family and friends. I knew my mother for decades. I can write, and I have a room of my own, and my hubby supports my endeavours. I can still pretend I am shiny.
I am going to stop making assumptions and be grateful for the good things in my life.
Death and the Lady for Flash Fiction Magazine
My Granddad died in 1996, and I wrote a little story around my feelings. It was only a short piece. Years later, I stumbled across it again. It had held up quite well. I polished it up and sent it out into the big world. I was delighted when it found a home.
Two weeks ago, my mother died. It was a horrible to watch her struggling to live, surrounded by machines that heartlessly showed us how fast she was fading away.
Before she went into her coma, she spoke with my niece. Her last words were “I’m very tired,” and “My children and family were what made my life perfect,” and her very last words were “I love you to the moon and back”.
Her last words to me were “I love you. I’ll see you tomorrow.” I had rung her in her hospital room, planning to visit her that day, and asking her what she wanted. She asked me not to come because she was so tired … I didn’t know that was going to be my last chance ever to speak with her. Who knows these things? She had her fatal turn just a few hours after I spoke with her.
Today rolls around. I had forgotten all about my little story. It was published today. In it, the little old woman dies of exhaustion and malnutrition.
This is how a writer breaks her own heart.
That’s my Mother in the suit, beside the bride (my eldest child). This photo was taken in October last year. This is one of last photos of my mother with her husband, children and grandchildren, together one last time.
I did it. I set a goal for getting 100 rejections over the Australian financial year … and I hit that goal a week ago. As well, I have had 6 acceptances in that time. How did having this goal affect my writing strategies?
I found it easier to keep track once I swapped over from a yearly submissions diary to a monthly submissions diary (an Excel spreadsheet). I aim to make 10 submissions a month … last month I got up to 15 submission (one every two days) but that isn’t sustainable. Two a week is doable, and that should add up to 120 submission over a year. Not every thing you send off gets an answer, which is why I send off more than 100. As well, I have to factor in acceptances – and they do happen.
In the first week of January this year, I made a list of 100 story ideas. This was to keep me on task; you need to write stories to submit stories. Of course, most of those ideas will never see the light of day. The ones that do are the cream, the ideas that rose to the top. Writing the list gave my muse the opportunity to dig deep for the really wild and bizarre ideas and I found those ideas were the ones with legs.
I keep a notebook with me at all times and write down every idea or snippet that comes to me. I find this particularly useful when I’m taking the train; you overhear dialogue without even wanting to! I go through a LOT of notebooks, and they always supply me with with nuggets of pure gold.
Since this is working for me, I am going to try for 100 rejections again next financial year. But my new goal is to up my acceptance rate!
Monday, I sent off my non-fiction zombie bug book and got a rejection the very same day. So today (Tuesday), I sent it off to another educational publishing house. Many successful writers advise that persistence pays off. To be truthful, a rejection stings less when you have plenty of other work out seeking publication; you can’t obsess over one failure.
I feel I am playing Pokemon Go – I keep throwing my ball until I catch my target.
I am not a brave person, physically or emotionally. However, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and ring a small educational publishing house about their submission guidelines. I practised my ‘professional’ voice, because I tend to sound like I am twelve.
I really like my ‘Zombie Bugs’ book and I am tired of seeing it languish in my folders.
Guess who is sending the bug book off on Monday?
Sometimes you just have to take that risk. Even if they say ‘no’ to the bug book, I have learnt something new about myself. I can be brave, with a run-up.
Megan and me, getting photos taken for our marketing package for our anthology.
There is a list of things that give me satisfaction. Last night, as our new family member, Artemis the kitten, cuddled up to me and purred … I was content to just hold her and listen to her.
Getting an acceptance is another form of satisfaction. (Or even an encouraging rejection with helpful advice.)
Finding the exact word I’ve been seeking.
Spending time with my friends and family.
Meeting my writing goals.
What brings satisfaction to your life?
My goal this Australian Financial year is to achieve 100 rejections. This means I have to send out stuff on a weekly basis, at least two submissions a week on average. Over a month, I lean towards submitting ten items or more. Over twelve months, that is 120 submissions, but that doesn’t mean 120 rejections.
Often, I never hear back from the smaller anthologies and magazines.
However, in the past month, I have received two very encouraging rejections for one story. One of the rejections pointed out that they thought the story was more suited to a younger audience than their target audience, even though they loved it. I found that comment exceedingly helpful, and I have now submitted that story to a children’s magazine.
As well, one of my stories is on the shortlist for acceptance into the Andromeda Spaceways magazine, having passed their three reading levels. If they have a space for it, it will be accepted. They informed me that only one in twenty stories get to this level, so I am pleased and excited.
These aren’t the only wins I’ve had over the past year.
With this in mind, I am already planning for next year, even though it is over two months away. I will still aim for 100 rejections, but I will also aim for a minimum of six acceptances over the space of a year – one acceptance every two months. And I hope to start sending out novels as well as short stories. I think a novel being accepted will count as three acceptances; what do you think?