Market annoyances, and outlines

Posted by Rob on 30th May 2015 in Writing |

There are a few things that can be annoying when you’re writing a story. One of those is discovering that a nice little market is open, but that it’s only open for a very short window of time, especially when you discover this late in said window. It doesn’t give you much time to get your story polished and ready to go, which means — if you’re like me, anyway — you can find yourself making sacrifices to try and squeeze in the time you need to polish it, and send it in.

And as a result of this, another thing that is incredibly annoying is when you submit your story before the deadline, and it gets declined, because the email account’s quota has been exceeded…

Playing all the right notes...Sometimes, it’s hard to stay on top of things.

My guess is that they got a LOT more submissions than they were expecting — and as they didn’t extend their deadlines, despite having been contacted frequently about their troubled inbox, I’m thinking that they already have far more stories to dig through than they had intended. No blame to them, then, as they’re really victims of circumstance here — but it’s frustrating all the same to throw yourself at a story for a deadline, and then find that you have, in some way, wasted your efforts.

I’ve solved my problem by polishing the story, so that it is (I hope?) better than the version I tried to send them anyway, and then kicked it out the door and on its way to someone else. When life gives you lemons, make combustible lemons.

And on a separate, but sideways note to this — I’m realising I should be outlining more. I enjoy writing in a seat-of-the-pants way, but the fact is, that means I often get to the end of a story draft before I realise something is critically wrong with it. And an outline — even a simple, bare bones one, focusing on critical details only — would be a good way for me to spot what’s going to bugger it up before I spend hours or days writing the damn thing.

So, I’ll be outlining more as I go, I reckon. And hopefully, I’ll even find a way to make that fun — and maybe, just maybe, it’ll spur me on to finish that novel draft I’ve been picking away at…

So, the market that bounced my submission back has now sent me a notice (nine days after it got bounced), saying that they HAD received it — despite their broken mailbox — and it’s in their queue for review now. So I’ve had to withdraw my submission from the other market — temporarily, perhaps — and leave the other one out. I’m happier with the later, modified version, but at least this earlier version will get to try its legs at a market I thought had sailed — so I can’t complain too much…


  • The Ould Git says:

    Well, the addendum has put a brighter light on the post, so I’ll not put any of the comments I’d planned, except to say the outlining can’t be a bad discipline to develop. (I’d have replied earlier, but because of lousy connectivity while we were away for the past week, I could read your blog, but I couldn’t manage a simple reply …. the joys of hols in a Herefordshire country cottage ….)

  • Rob says:

    It did spin it a little differently! But it’s an oddity — I had mixed feelings about it, because I’d made quite a few changes to it after I thought it had bombed out. But it’s nice to at least get to have a story in the running for that little anthology. I doubt it’ll make it — they were swamped, after all, and that story did need a few edits I think — but the rule of thumb is, never reject yourself. Let the editor do it.

    And yes, outlining is a tremendous discipline. I have it half-way down already — I often outline stories roughly while I’m falling asleep or waking up, and often toy around with the ideas. But the full on thing, of writing down the outline and then adjusting it, I don’t do so well. I’m considering whether I should outline on paper, because pen and paper does seem to prompt quite a different way of thinking about things.

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