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Friday, May 31, 2013

Story Conflict and Notes on Rejections

It has become part of my daily writing routine to begin by going back to an earlier part of the manuscript to add or change something. Today, it was to add another layer of conflict, in this case, Jack feeling divided on his feelings about embracing the home-and-family concept while giving up some of the investigative stuff his new associate is doing. He wants a future, to build a family, but he likes being a detective, too. Can he reconcile his wants? A similar theme will play out for Tabitha as well, a performer near the peak of her career and wondering how much of it she must sacrifice in the name of future security. I didn't really have plans for this under-story when I started, but once I got going, the characters led me along. One of the advantages of writing a sequel or series is knowing the character(s) so well and letting them take on their own stories.

Earlier this morning, I was on Facebook where I belong to a group for the Chicago Writers Association. There was a conversation going about rejection letters. While I've gotten many of those since I first attempted to get something published, I haven't seen one in quite some time. But I do remember them. From the terse to the verbose, I went through phases. At first, the rejections were deeply disappointing. Like other writers I'm sure, I felt I had THE next best seller and never even considered someone wouldn't want to snap it up for a big advance. Gradually, I took them in stride. Since a lot of my experience was via the U.S. mail system, I got to the point of knowing what was inside the just-received SASE before I opened it. Thin meant a preprinted slip of paper saying "No thanks" or just my query letter with a note scrawled on it. Thicker envelopes held out some promise of at least a bit of guidance written on some sample pages or a longer critique. Oddly enough, I treasured those because they allowed me to learn valuable lessons about the publishing business, which while it intersects with the writing business, the two are far from the same. What gets written versus what gets published are often very far apart.

I kept at it in the face of rejections because I love writing, and I guess I would do it even if my stories never saw any readership beyond myself.

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