What If . . .

. . . Stephen King were pitching The Wizard of Oz to a publisher?

The Freelance Life

It’s Labor Day here in the U.S., which means that some people (teachers, office workers, church secretaries) have the day off, while others (retail employees, police, firefighters, hospital personnel) are working at least as hard, if not harder, than on any other day.

In between these two extremes are those of us who don’t have a regular employer, a regular work schedule, a regular paycheck. Some of us may be working today; others may be tending to the chores that piled up during the last project; still others may be taking a day of leisure. Which category we fall into on this particular day is largely the luck of the draw, because

We are the Freelancers.

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The Novella Dilemma

Novella: a work of fiction intermediate in length and complexity between a short story and a novel.

(Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com)

So here’s the situation. You sat down to write a story. You didn’t think about form or length. You just wanted to tell this particular tale. When you finished, you found that it was 20,000 words long. “Gee,” you thought. “That seems kind of long for a short story.” And then you did a little research, and you found that most literary journals want stories of less than around 5,000 words (some less than 3,000).

oops

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Resources for Writers, Part 1

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Whenever I talk with someone who’s venturing into the weird and wonderful world of writing, I inevitably get this question: “Do you know of any books that would be good for me?” As a matter of fact, I do. The bookcase in my front hall houses dozens of such volumes. Some are essays about writing and creativity; some are about the writing life (such as Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life); some focus on craft; some are resources on specific topics I’ve written about or intend to (Deborah Blum’s The Poisoner’s Handbook is a gem for those writing about murder); some contain writing prompts or odd facts designed to stir up the muse (The Book of Useless Information, by Noel Botham and The Useless Information Society). Continue reading

Perspective

Lion-and-KittenImage source: carlsbadcravings.com

To say this morning did not start well is an understatement. Two days after the promised response time on a submission, I received an email informing me the story had been rejected.

But this wasn’t just any rejection. First, it was a group email, with everyone’s addresses showing. (Don’t even get me started about that. Words like tacky and insensitive come to mind.) Second, this rejection came from the same people who published my award-winning story last year. It seemed like a guaranteed acceptance. Instead, this was the literary equivalent of a high school senior not getting into her safety school. Continue reading

The Magic of the Hour

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“I don’t have time to write!”

If I were to conduct a scientific survey of the reasons people who say they want to be writers don’t write, I’ll bet that this would be #1. There are plenty of others—family and work would likely rank as #2 and 3–but as often as not, I imagine those would be tied into #1.

It doesn’t help that books and articles routinely bombard the poor time-deprived writer with advice that seems impossible to follow. In predictable, frustrating, and often sanctimonious fashion, nearly all of them proclaim the same thing: Writers write. If you want to be a writer, you must find or make the time to write. Continue reading