The Pros and Cons to NaNoWriMo

During the month of November, I pretty much secluded myself away from the writing world.  I didn’t read any blogs and I didn’t submit any new stories.  I was so busy trying to bust out my NaNo word count every day that I actually forgot I was waiting to hear back from several publications.  The month sped by.

This was both a curse and a blessing.

The Curse:  I got two rejection letters during the month which were extremely unhelpful discouragement.  One was from Cicada–FINALLY! I thought they had lost my submission ages ago–and the other was from New South.**  Both were form letters, but one was actually a forwarded rejection which just seemed to increase the impersonal nature of it all  [deep sigh of melodramatic depression]

The Blessing:  The month went by so fast that I didn’t even have time to count the seconds until I hear back about some contests I entered a while back.  I find out about the Tiny Texas House contest as soon as this Friday (cross your fingers!) and about the Writer’s Digest Young Adult Fiction Competition by December 31st.  Woohoo!

I didn’t know this until I read this article, but apparently the writing world is split into two camps concerning NaNoWriMo: friends and foes.  I think most of the Cons on the Writer’s Relief’s list are rather silly, so I’ve composed my own Pros and Cons list:

Pros:

  1. You get a whole book written–with a beginning, middle, and end, and an entire cast of characters.
  2. You don’t have the luxury to procrastinate and only write and rewrite and then rewrite the beginning again . . .  for years.
  3. You’ll become a better writer, with better writing habits and better discipline.
  4. Every writing project in the future will seem easy and completely achievable in comparison with NaNoWriMo.
  5. You’ll have taken so many wrong turns in your novel and reached so many dead ends that, through the process of elimination, you now know what can’t happen in your novel and, therefore, what can.
  6. Even though your whole book is crap (see below) it’s a lot easier to rewrite and edit when you already have the bare bones of the entire story.

Cons:

  1. Your whole book is crap.  When you go back to reread the draft, the sentences are horrifying, your descriptions are fluffy instead of visionary, and in general you can never show this book to anyone.
  2. You are going to have to rewrite the whole book which, for a moment, will make you question whether or not you wasted thirty days of your life doing something unproductive (you didn’t, I swear).
  3. Because of the attention to word count rather than quality, it is almost certain that your writing won’t improve over the month.

In my opinion, the pros totally outweigh the cons.  In fact, the cons aren’t really even cons.  They’re more like complaints, complaints that every writer will have some day.  Because we all must–and dread–the rewriting stage.

**Personal submission response time for Cicada magazine (see my write up about their submission guidelines etc. here): it ended up being 8 months, 29 days for a rejected poem; in the past, I only had to wait 27 days for a personal rejection to a short story.  Obviously, it ranges . . . What’s the longest you’ve ever had to wait to hear back from a publication?

(Image, No Copyright)

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Writing Submission Status

I haven’t posted my personal waiting experience in a while.  So if you’re interested…

  • Painted Bride Quarterly (date submitted: January 4th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction)  Official Response Time:  unknown
  • Cicada (date submitted: February 16th; what submitted: 2 poems)  Official Response Time: up to 4 months

I’ve given up hope on the Cicada submissions, to be honest.  It’s going to be one of those infamous lost submissions that happen all the time.  I’ve sent the editors several polite emails inquiring as to the poems statuses, but never received a response to those either.

I also sent a polite inquiry to the PBQ staff asking what the official response time was, but they never responded either.  But they are staffed by Drexel University students and their semester doesn’t start until mid-September, so perhaps I’ll have to wait until then.  Has anyone heard back from PBQ recently?

The Writer’s Curse: You Can Never Stop Working

If you’re a writer, you know that you’re doomed.  Doomed to a life of eternally working.  Time off from the day job just means you have more time to write, more time dedicated to being chained to your desk and the invisible spiderweb deadlines that you construct for yourself.  Maybe I’m just speaking for myself, but every moment that other people would spend relaxing–watching television, taking naps, doing absolutely nothing–I feel like I should pack full with productive writing.  I constantly feel like I’m wasting my time unless I’m using it to work on my craft.  Because I like making polls, here’s one for you:

For example, I’m feeling rather stressed that I’m only waiting on a few short stories.  A few months ago I had a huge long list of things pending at literary journals.  With the list being so short, and me not having written any new material in an embarrassingly long amount of time, I’m feeling a great deal of writerly stress.  Am I alone or is this an occupational hazard?  While you wait for your rejection and/or acceptance letters, do you continually stress?

  • Painted Bride Quarterly (date submitted: January 4th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction)  Official Response Time:  unknown
  • Cicada (date submitted: February 16th; what submitted: 2 poems)  Official Response Time: up to 4 months
  • storySouth (date submitted: June 1st; what submitted: 1 fiction)  Official Response Time: 2-6 months
  • Weave magazine (date submitted:  June 1st; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)  Official Response Time: 3 months

Patience is (Allegedly) a Virtue

I think this is more of a wives tale than a proverb, personally.  What’s the longest amount of time you’ve ever waited to hear back from a journal or literary agent?  How do you all stay patient?  I’m going BONKERS over here.  I’m still waiting on…

  • Painted Bride Quarterly (date submitted: January 4th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction)  Official Response Time:  unknown
  • Cicada (date submitted: February 16th; what submitted: 2 poems)  Official Response Time: up to 4 months
  • storySouth (date submitted: June 1st; what submitted: 1 fiction)  Official Response Time: 2-6 months
  • Weave magazine (date submitted:  June 1st; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)  Official Response Time: 3 months

Also, I’m waiting to start a series of job interviews beginning tomorrow morning.  And then I’ll be waiting to hear back about said job interviews.  Cross your fingers for me!

It’s Not All Over: Go to the Harry Potter Exhibit!

Well I’ve got some good announcements and some bad announcements.  The NYU Summer Publishing Institute officially ended on Friday and I graduated with a Certificate in Publishing (yey me!).  Good news: with the institute over, I will now have time to be regular with my blog posts yet again.  Bad news, though, is that the reason I’ll have time is because, for the first time in my life, I am no longer a student, but just plain unemployed.  Sad times.

On the Harry Potter front, I have good news.  I went to see the Harry Potter Exhibit in Times Square and it was fabulous.  Before entering you can get sorted by the Sorting Hat (every kid’s dream come true).  The rest of the exhibit is mostly composed of props and outfits the characters wear, but if you pay a little extra for the audio tour, it’s totally worth it because the fashion designer for the films has some really fascinating insights on all the clothing choices.  I was almost starstruck seeing the Invisibility Cloak and all of the wands (Elder Wand included) right in front of me.  I (maybe) felt like jumping up and down shouting that I had found the three Deathly Hallows and for everyone to come look.  Maybe.  If I were to pick a wand out of the collection, I think Professor Slughorn’s would suit me the best.  My favorite part was when I could pull screaming mandrakes out of their pots!  For those of you still feeling sad about the last movie, read some of the Harry Potter focused postcards at Postsecret.com today.

Because there was a ticket deal going on, I also went in to see the Pompeii exhibit.  I totally fell in love with frescos–an art form I had never encountered before–and if you’re “mature enough,” as the sign warns, you can see what a Pompeii brothel looked like.  I’m not entirely sure why there’s a theme going on in my blog and in my recent museum visits.  First there was the Hiroshima exhibit at the Photography Center with the shadows and now there are the Pompeii body casts.  Thousands of people were smothered and buried in volcanic ash during the 79 A.D. eruption.  Over the centuries, their bodies decayed and left behind a hallow impression.  Archeologists used them as a mold, filled the pockets with concrete, and then cracked them open to reveal these horrific statues of what people looked like when they died.  Seeing the actual curve of their thighs, the impression of them pulling their cloaks over their mouths to filter the poisonous air, and some curled up holding each other made it hauntingly real.  The absolute saddest one, though, was a dog who was chained up and was slowly smothered by the ash despite his best efforts to crawl out and escape.

Still waiting on the same journals to get back to me:

  • Painted Bride Quarterly (date submitted: January 4th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction)  Official Response Time:  unknown
  • Cicada (date submitted: February 16th; what submitted: 2 poems)  Official Response Time: up to 4 months
  • storySouth (date submitted: June 1st; what submitted: 1 fiction)  Official Response Time: 2-6 months
  • Weave magazine (date submitted:  June 1st; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)  Official Response Time: 3 months

Dear Literary Journals: Please Send Me an Acceptance Letter for a Belated Birthday Present

Still waiting on submission responses from the final hold out literary journals.

  • Painted Bride Quarterly (date submitted: January 4th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction)  Official Response Time:  unknown
  • Cicada (date submitted: February 16th; what submitted: 2 poems)  Official Response Time: up to 4 months
  • storySouth (date submitted: June 1st; what submitted: 1 fiction)  Official Response Time: 2-6 months
  • Weave magazine (date submitted:  June 1st; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)  Official Response Time: 3 months

I’m considering contacting PBQ via facebook to ask for a ball park response time figure.  It would help me and all of you out there wondering about the same thing.  Also considering sending another email to Cicada to politely inquire about my poems.  As for storySouth, submishmash has it posted as still “received” (which means nobody has looked at it yet) and Weave magazine is still considering it.  I did get the latest issue of Weave last weekend.  Haven’t started reading yet, but hopefully I can give you a bit of a personal review later this week!

On another personal note:  I went to see Anything Goes with a dear friend on Friday night.  It was, officially, delovely.  Small tip: the theater is designed to offer a good view from any seat, so don’t sweat it out if you buy the cheapest tickets :]

 

Hunting for Undiscovered Publication Paths

As I mentioned earlier, I was slammed with a load of rejection letters this week.  This means that I need to start up the submission process again.  However, I’ve kind of run out of ideas of where to send my writing.  Does anybody have any recommendations for literary journals to submit fiction and creative non-fiction to?  Or a resource that lists submission-accepting publications?  How do you research and discover new literary journals?

On a side note, I did learn about a really neat new boutique publisher of long form non-fiction.  The Atavist only publishes Kindle singles (and the same stories on other e-reader platforms, like the Nook, and iPad).  If you like reading non-fiction stories and journalism that’s too long to fit in a magazine and too short to be a book, go read “My Mother’s Lover” or “Lifted” (my two personal favorites).  I’m a big fan of this seemingly new genre of writing.  They accept pitches, so if you are itching to write one consider querying them.  They seem to do a pretty fair payment price split (50/50, I believe).

My current short story submission status:

  1. Painted Bride Quarterly (date submitted: January 4th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction)  Official Response Time:  unknown
  2. Cicada (date submitted: February 16th; what submitted: 2 poems)  Official Response Time: up to 4 months
  3. Zahir (date submitted:  April 25th; what submitted: 1 fiction)  Official Response Time: 1-2 months
  4. storySouth (date submitted: June 1st; what submitted: 1 fiction)  Official Response Time: 2-6 months
  5. Weave magazine (date submitted:  June 1st; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)  Official Response Time: 3 months

It’s been just over two months for my Zahir submission, so maybe I’ll be hearing back from this week.

Now, back to bed.  Good luck with your writing, submissions, and literary journal hunting.  And good luck to me on recovering.