My Mom is good friends with my high school English teacher, Connie. I took advantage of this relationship at our families 4th of July celebration by hitting up Connie to take an editorial look at a few of my stories.
This is, of course, a huge favor to ask, so I was thrilled when she agreed and quickly sent off three stories that I think might be an enjoyable read for her .
This weekend we met at Mom’s house to go over some of Connie’s edits to my writing. Within minutes it was easy to tell that Connie’s a pro. She has been teaching for decades and has the stuff down cold.
The funny part to me was how both my Mom and Connie suggested that I should “start submitting” and “really try to get published.” They were so kind in the way they both went on about how great my stories are, but they didn’t know that I really have been trying to get published for a few months now.
I am sure that I am probably at the point where I am a little better at crafting a story than most High School students, but that’s only because at this point in my life I care about writing. It’s not too hard to stand out against a room full of kids who would rather be texting each other than working on an <ugh!> writing assignment.
And God knows I could scribble out anything and my Mom would want to make forty copies of it for the relatives then put it up on the fridge.
The positive response to my writing was very flattering, and I do think encouragement is crucial to keep a beginning writer from throwing in the towel, but there is also a danger in feeling too confident. That danger lurks as a failure to learn as you go; the danger of thinking you know it all already.
I see a lot of people, some friends even, who have conflict in their lives and choose to blame it on some external cause. They tend to focus on how they have gotten screwed over; their helpless role as the victim of cruel circumstances supposedly beyond their control.
While I disagree with the attitude they have toward their problems, I also pity them. By playing the victim they have stifled their own ability to deal with issues they face.
I have found that if I try to see the role my own hand played in a problem, either through some incorrect action I took, or more often, an action I failed to take, then I can at least be better prepared to face those same types of problems in the future.
Knowledge works the same way. Once you feel you have something mastered, a person tends to get comfortable. You stop learning. And stagnating is dying, my friend.
Of course, I still blame all of my literary stumbling on how dammed picky Editors are.
Fonzie takes another hit.
While writing this post (8/23/10), I received another rejection from Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine for the Little Green Fonzie story (Submitted on 8/14/10).
Of course, after receiving edits from Connie, and Ian, another person I asked to help me, I can understand why an Editor may not be able to get past the first few sentences.
And while it sucks to be rejected, I do really like F&SF’s super fast turn around time. Considering time in limbo traveling around the various USPS offices, nine days is getting right on it.