Writing, submitting and perseverance

Tonight I’m feeling inspired by Rose Lemberg’s great essay (originally published as tweets) on perseverance and the editorial process.

Rose talks about the importance of not self-rejecting your work, and of daring to submit, and re-submit to a publication that’s rejected your work before. The whole essay is very much worth a read for any (aspiring or published) writer! Especially if you (like me) suffer from some form of perfectionism and self-doubt.

It was such a huge leap for me to start submitting my poems in 2012. I’ve been writing (both prose and poetry) since forever, and my poetic voice has been getting stronger since 2009, but it took me so long to dare to submit my work. I was really afraid of rejection, of not being “good enough”. And those first rejections really hurt. I hadn’t developed a tougher skin yet; I felt like the magazines I submitted to were rejecting my whole self, all of my writing forever, &c. &c.

As time’s gone by, it’s got easier. I still feel a sting when I get a rejection, especially if it’s been a long time since an acceptance. But I understand better now that rejections a) are just one person’s (editor’s) opinion, b) can happen for any number of reasons, c) do not mean I’m a terrible writer. I’ve learnt to feel happy about personalised rejections, and the ones that actually give a snippet of feedback on my work make me feel good. I try to believe the editors when they say “please submit to us again”.

It’s been harder with stories. Quantity-wise, I produce far less of them than poems, which flow out at a much quicker pace. Story rejections still sting more, and make me doubt my skills (“oh noes I am the WORST AT PLOTTING FOREVER”). But how will those skills develop if I don’t keep writing and submitting? They won’t. So I have to keep trying.

Because after all, my perseverance so far has got me a long way from where I was three years ago. I’ve been published in a lot of amazing magazines – and I still feel giddy when I think that my story is going to be in An Alphabet of Embers. I just have to keep on daring, even when I feel afraid.

Drive-by Sunday recs

It’s technically not Sunday any more here, but I haven’t gone to bed yet, so this totally counts.

Three poems I’ve loved lately:

Entwined ‘Neath Stars and Empty Suns by Merc Rustad (in Liminality): A romantic, visionary space opera. Great stuff. I want more space opera poetry!

Red Daughter by Alena Sullivan (in Goblin Fruit): Lovely word-magic, excellent rhyming, delicious!

The Law of Germinating Seeds by Rose Lemberg (also in Goblin Fruit): Such beautiful treesong, it gave me the shivers.

Sunday recs: owls, fragments, pockets

Just wrote a ~3,000-word story in two hours, yay! With some editing, I think this will be fine for submitting to Lightspeed’s Queers Destroy Science Fiction! special issue. It’s been so long since I came up with a story idea and actually wrote it in this short a time – I got the idea last night just before bed, and started writing today after breakfast. New story yay!

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And now for some stories I’ve enjoyed from others this past week:

The Truth About Owls by Amal El-Mohtar (in Strange Horizons, originally published in the Kaleidoscope anthology): This story is utterly wonderful. It contains many of my favourite things, such as multilingualism (Welsh, Arabic, yay!), Welsh mythology, and a solid emotional punch. Also, owls!

Pockets, also by Amal El-Mohtar (in Uncanny Magazine): A charming story with subtle strangeness.

archival testimony fragments / minersong by Rose Lemberg (in Uncanny Magazine): This is a poem, but it has a subtly developing plot that is just awesome. I highly recommend listening to C.S.E. Cooney’s reading of this poem in the Uncanny Magazine podcast – it gives the poem a whole new level of brilliance. I got shivers from the reading.

Sunday recs: I aten’t dead

January went by in a bit of a rush – I’ve completely neglected to post even any Sunday recs. Turned out that the start of the year included tons of PhD work and other busyness, so I’ve been off the writing radar a bit. I’m getting the itch again, though: even though I’m currently still a bit sick (spent last night sleeping off a fever), I feel like I’d like to write something today.

Anyway, here’s some lovely poems I’ve read recently(ish):

To the Creature by Gillian Daniels (in the issue of Stone Telling that I have a poem in too): this is so good! A beautiful story and I love that it’s done in an epistolary format.

The Alchemy by Neile Graham (in the “Winter Is Sown” issue of Goblin Fruit): this is so amazing! Obviously I love alchemy-related fiction (because of my PhD topic), but otherwise too, this is just so magical. It inspires me to write more alchemy-related poems myself!

Earth Map by Rose Lemberg (in Mythic Delirium): a lovely prose poem, with the words flowing like water – I do so love Rose’s writing.