Friday, March 6, 2009

My Publishing Journey

This weekly update on my own publishing attempt is seeming a little too quiet, so I'll start with someone else's GREAT news. One of our fellow blogging buddies just got a great agent yesterday! I don't want to give away anyone's name in case she or he prefers to keep it private, but keep your eyes open for an official announcement of the good news!

In my own world, I've been back to concentrating on the writing. Writing. One of my goals is to try and get into some better-known literary journals like McSweeney's or Zoetrope: All Story or Glimmer Train or that one magazine whose name I'm almost too scared to mention for fear that people will think I'm an idiot for even trying...The New Yorker. The fact is, yes, maybe I'm an idiot, but I'll never know unless I try and I shouldn't be ashamed of trying.

So, this last week I worked hard to finish the first draft of a personal short story I've had hanging around for two or three years. It's just an early draft, but I decided to let two of my friends read it. The results were lukewarm. But, I'm planning to revise it and flesh out one of the characters, and then I'll have to see if it stirs up some more excitement. I also finished the first draft of another short story based on a Mormon father who abandons his family but still wants to have a relationship with only his youngest son. I'm excited about this one because it feels new, it feels quirky, and I love the exploration of this strange behavior -- it's based on a true story.

Regarding my novel, I'm revising the first two chapters. I've been told that they are the weakest in the book, and I realize in my own mind that I'm not completely in love with them either. I kind of took a break in February, thinking that the novel was done. But, I have some renewed energy, so I saved the old draft and am playing around to see if I like the new one.

I'm writing and I'm blogging and critiquing and reading. Nothing on the query front for me so far. I'm realizing how much time everything is taking. After getting home from my job, I only have a few hours to critique or read or write or get out on cyberspace and find other writers. How does everyone handle it? What component of writing do you spend the most time on? What component of writing do you think you SHOULD spend the most time on?

I loved our discussion this week on description. Next week, I'm going to start a few talks on the action of stories to see what ideas we can come up with!


  1. I wish you the best of luck. I'm still waiting to hear back about a short story I subbed to a bunch of places a while ago. So far I've gotten some very nice rejections, but that's it.

  2. I did a blog post awhile ago on fight scenes that you might find interesting.

    Can You Pack A Punch Pts. 1&2

    I wish you luck on the short story front! It's hard work!

    As far as time... I spend a lot of time networking here on the blogs. Probably more than I should, but it's so addicting.

    I think that story about the Mormon father sounds interesting. I might be able to help you out a little. Email me if you're interested.

  3. Great news? You must mean my new agent! I'm showing admirable restraint by only telling close friends and fellow writers.

    One of the things I was told last night was that it's very important to find publishing opportunities like McSweeney's or the New Yorker. Here's the exchange in which I was told:

    Agent: You're a good writer; I can't understand why you haven't published a bunch of short stories.

    Me: Thanks!

    Agent: That's not a compliment. You can't be lazy like that.

    Davin, you're certainly a good enough writer to be published in the better literary journals. Don't be lazy like I've been. It's going to be just that much harder for my agent to sell my novel because nobody's heard of me, and I've got almost no track record.

    Time management? I have no idea where all the time goes each week. But my priorities are always writing and reading. More reading of late, but that's about to change. Everything else gets crammed into whatever corners of life I can spare. For example, I'm currently sitting at my desk, ignoring work I should be doing for the university that employs me.

  4. Can't wait for next week:) Have a nice weekend. Good luck!

  5. Ugh. Revising first chapters. UGH. That is entirely my weakness. Good luck with that!!

  6. Davin,

    How does one attempt to get a story into a major magazine or journal? I never understood, or I would have tried before.

    Do I write a story then send it over and hope it works out? Does each journal/magazine have easily accessible guidelines?

    Please help me out because I keep hearing "a writer should get his name out there," but I'm not sure how to do it.


    "For example, I'm currently sitting at my desk, ignoring work I should be doing for the university that employs me."

    Hmm...doesn't sound familiar at all.

  7. Davin,

    Breaks are good and quite essential. I've also not been working a lot of my 'finished' novel. I know I have to edit the first chapter for sure. But I needed a major break from it. I had to step back. In the meantime, I got a really good stop on my second novel and a nice start to a third novel. Eventually though I'm going to have to edit that chapter 1.

  8. What component of writing do you spend the most time on? What component of writing do you think you SHOULD spend the most time on?

    i spend the most time on the writing part of writing. i find it improves my writing, and creates writing, so i have writing to send to places that publish writing.

    i think all writers should spend most of their time painting.

    the new yorker is very easy to get into, i'm in like every other month. just use my name when u submit.

    my magic code word for today is "hypopla."

  9. Thanks, Captain Hook! Good luck to you too! We have to remind ourselves to keep sumbitting.

    Lady Glamis, I'm excited to check out your post. Thanks! Thanks for the offer for help too.

    scott, we should push each other to start submitting more short stories. I only have one out right now and I'm thinking I should try to have ten out at a time.

    Thanks, Robyn!

    !Beth, thanks

    Justus, I posted some notes on submitting that are hopefully helpful. It was a rush job, so let me know what's unclear.

    Crimogenic, Yes, I keep multiple projects going so that I can take a break on one while working on another. And, sometimes it's great to just get away from writing entirely.

    Craig, Congratulations on the New Yorker. You must use some sort of pen name. Are you Mary Oliver?


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