The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

You never know the number

You never know the number

I just got this note from one of my writing students from Hurston Wright, currently walking the Thousand Mile Road…


Just wanted to let you know that I've gotten back my
first rejection in a long time.  I sent a story I
wrote back in '99, shelved after getting rejected,
then sent back out to the Big Three (Analog, Asimov,
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction).

Needless to say that my first rejection came from John
Joseph Adams at TMFSF, who stated in a note:

"Thank you for submitting (Story Title),' but I'm
going to pass on it.   This tale didn't grab my
interest, I'm afraid.  Good luck to you with this one,
and thanks again for sending it our way."

I can tell that this is one that is original, and I'm
glad that he replied quickly.  But I'm not really
disappointed, only pondering how the story was not
interesting enough.  However, I'm keeping in mind what
you said at Hurston Wright, that this is a numbers
game, and I have more stuff to send out in the next
upcoming several months.  What do you think?

I think that you’re doing exactly, precisely the right thing.  Send this story out to the next venue on your list, and get on to the next story.  You will learn more by writing new stuff than by re-writing old material.

You have to INTERNALIZE the basic structures of writing before your artistic sense can be freed to improvise on the fly.  While there are processes such as visualization, self-hypnosis and so forth that can speed this process up a bit, the primary means is simply to work your butt off, while reading the best material your brain can handle. 

That formula, plus time, will get you there.  Remember—there is a number of stories you must write to hit the creative gold vein—and you never know what that number is.

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