Monday, October 17, 2005

Enough with the Tragic Muse

or: getting back to work.

I coasted all last week on my Clean Sheets victory, but a rejection broke me out of my smug haze.

The story that got rejected had been sitting with that particular editor for 16 months. I was tempted several times to pull the submission because this editor has a poor reputation-- something I wish I'd known 16 months ago-- but I had no compelling reason to yank it other than a serious case of dislike. (For the record, even if my story had been accepted, it would be my last submission to that editor.)

No matter how I felt about the editor, a rejection always gets me blue. I give myself 24 hours to mope on my mental velvet fainting couch and then I have to get over it. Playing the Tragic Muse gets damn dull pretty quick.

The good side of that rejection is that I got a chance to dive back into a story that I wrote nearly two years ago, but armed with a better set of writing skills. Writing is a craft, and like any craft, you never stop learning how to do it better. I didn't find anything cringe-worthy, but I did cut redundant phrases and sharpen word choices.

Rewriting is the true art, I think.

I'd love to see my story in print. It is one of my favorites-- surreal and profane. I'll give the rewrite a week to ripen, re-read it to find errors, and then that story is going back in the mail to a different editor. That work ethic, more than anything else, makes me feel like a real writer.

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