Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Would you like them in a house? Would you like them with a mouse?

The lead editor of SmokeLong Quarterly (the online magazine I work for) is leaving to be the director of an MFA program. I'm happy for him, but now I'm sending out many more rejection letters myself--hundreds of them--and, I feel bad. I took on this job because I love writers, and I feel like I'm telling writers that I hate them.

The problem: Too many writers are trying to reach too few readers. So, somewhere along the publishing pipeline, there must be an elimination round.

Right now, agents and editors are responsible for much of that elimination, which gets people upset. If we self-publish, the elimination process transfers to self-promoters. The people who can get their own name out there will do better than those who can't. This can also be discouraging. I suppose we writers could start to discourage each other. Lines like, "Scott G. F. Bailey, really? Eels?" might do the job of eliminating some writers. But, again, we don't want to upset each other. (And, Scott has a ferocious temper.)

So, I'm curious to know: As fellow writers, where are you most willing to have the elimination round to take place? And, who do you want to do that job?


Is there an alternative? Would we be happier, for example, if more writers reached fewer readers?


  1. Good questions, Davin! I haven't entered the querying trenches. I haven't been eliminated much with my writing, but I'm sure it's going to happen. A lot. And I'm sure it's going to hurt.

    I prefer the eliminating to come on a personal level, meaning from people I know. For instance, if I sent my book to you and you told me you feel it's not up to par and needs a lot more work, that's going to hurt less than my sending it out to 10 agents and getting 10 rejection letters.

    It's nice to know this hurts you, too, on the other end - the one who is rejecting.

  2. ...I think you know I've repeatedly said about the too-many-writers, too-few-readers problem. I've been watching this happen over recent years, and the number of writers continues to explode while the number of editors continues to implode, or at least the ratio of editors-to-writers continues to decrease. Even with self-publishing, so many are self-publishing now--lots of noise out here. Too much sometimes.

    I haven't seen any solution to this. I think it's really out of anyone's control, like if people want to write, they will. That nearly all writers seem to think their writing is worthwhile "to society" seems the bigger problem, like many don't know how to judge their own works.

    Some efforts should remain at the hobby level for some people; some fiction writers probably shouldn't be seeking publication, like they may have one or two okay stories in them, and that's it. They really don't have anything much to say, and when they do say something, they aren't exactly genius rhetoricians.

    I sew, but I admit I'm probably not good enough at it to become a professional, to become a meaningful sewing crafter to anyone other than my friends and family. So I never take sewing beyond I-need-more-clothes-and-household-goods-and-simple-gifts-for-others.

  3. Great question.

    Who do I want to do that job? Well, the agent, of course. Yeah, I know, they have good support staff, but . . . (not that you're not qualified or doing a bang-up job, btw) . . . at the end of the day, do I really want a summer intern rejecting me? No.

    Yeah, agents are swamped. I totally understand. They receive a gazillion queries per day. They have clients. Still, rejection by intern is probably not the best rejection in the world.

    Then, there's the personal level Lady Glamis mentioned (which kind of ties into my post yesterday). I serioulsy want my friends and/or beta readers, to be honest with me. Yeah, it's gonna sting, I'm gonna get mad, but I'm also going to be able to get over my hurt feelings and look at my work with new eyes.


  4. I think I'd rather have my betas help me with my writing than have my queries shot down. I mean, it'll happen eventually, but at least I'll be prepared when it comes.

  5. I don't mind niche writing. It's much more abrasive with the rejection however. Truly it is a word to the wise, cast a wide net of readers.

  6. I think the sign of an experienced writer is where she lets her filter come in.

    An inexperienced writer will consider the pipeline to be the publisher.

    An experienced writer will consider the pipeline to be fellow writers.

    That's why inexperienced writers submit manuscript with either no critiquing, or with revisions that didn't go far enough to address issues in a critique. They may submit to agents, but when the work isn't accepted there, they bypass that and submit to publishers. They don't realize their work isn't good enough--they think because it is written, it deserves publication. These writers will sometimes even eliminate the filter altogether and resort to self-publishing.

    An experienced writer, on the other hand, knows how to take criticism of fellow writers in crit groups, edit from there, and then advance to agents.

  7. Davin, your post makes me think that to some extent the problem about which many writers complain--too hard to get published--is, a writer-created problem, especially with respect to literary fiction, and even more so re: literary short fiction. So many people want to get their short fiction into an esteemed lit fic journal,often just for a writing credit, but look at the readership/subscription rates of those journals. Clearly only a fraction of the writers are also readers. Is the readership at SmokeLong anywhere near the level of submissions you receive?

    I do think that a writer's writer is also a lover of literature and an avid reader. My brother is an artist and he would be miserable if he could not study and view and discuss art created by other people. The same should be true of writers. So if you are really a short story writer I would think that you would have an overwhelming desire to read as many literary journals as you could get your hands on.

    If self publishing and online journals are where we want the elimination process to take place--i.e., at the reader level with no editor/agent intercession-then we all have to participate enough by being readers for that to work. And we'd have to be open to reading more works that have not been through any filter. In some ways, the reader would have to read (and often pay for) "slush." I'm not sure I see that happening now.

    Of course, the internet makes "word of mouth" reviews easy to spread, so maybe that will be the answer. The community of readers, and what they blog and tweet, will become the filter, vs agents and editors. Which is an entirely different question--an editor might bring you "The God of Small Things" and the community of readers might bring you "Twilight."

    So how do you think literary fiction would fare in the brave new world? :)

  8. I realized I included online journals (which have editors) with self-publishing for filter purposes-- I was thinking more of an indiviual posting her own work on a blog.

  9. Michelle, thanks for mentioning that rejection does hurt. I think we can all accept that. The trick is to not let it stop us. I think your preference for wanting to hear from people you know is also good in a business sense. Get it right before you publish, and you'll have a better chance of getting more readers afterward.

    F.P., thanks for your thoughts. I know you've mentioned before that you can't think of a solution. I can't either. But, I hope there is one! I understand what you say about the sewing. At the same time, I know I'd personally be disappointed to come to the realization that my writing could never be good enough to give to the rest of the world. While that may well be true, it's also depressing.

    Scott, you want it both ways! I get your point about wanting to hear from professionals. And, I'd guess that with GOOD agents (defined by whoever wants to define it) they do have a sense of what works and what doesn't.

    Mariah, I hear you. And, I think that if you get a good set of beta readers (not too many!) you can really create something that works.

    T. Anne, I've often thought about what my readers prefer versus what I like. Sometimes they don't align, and that can be a problem. Still, I appreciate anyone who is willing to help me improve my writing.

  10. This is a difficult one to answer.

    In an ideal world for writers, if my ms has to be eliminated (which I'd rather not happen at all!) I'd prefer the elimination round to take place with the agent or the editor (not the intern). If I knew for certain my story was being read by an experienced professional, rather than one just starting out in the business, I'd be more philosophical about the elimination.

    The self-publishing idea is one I've been grappling with for ages. In the digital age, is self-publishing the way of the future for writers? With the internet & blogosphere, self-promotion is a lot easier (although it would still require immense work). Look at The Shack and The Lace Reader, both recently self-published books which did immensely well and were later picked up by publishing houses.

    As to the final question, more writers for fewer readers, I'd vote fewer writers for more readers, with the caveat that the standard of writing (whatever the genre) must then be impeccable.

  11. Jennifer has some good points, especially about writers submitting short stories mainly for pub credits. I doubt that most of the writers who submit to lit journals read the journals to which they're submitting, and that's a big problem.

    It's also true what F.P. says, that a lot of writing should remain at the hobby level. It will sound harsh, but most of the people who think they're ready to be published are not, and never will be. They should keep writing, though, because writing is a pleasant way to spend time. Hell, I write primarily to amuse myself and I enjoy solving the problems that constructing a story presents.

    If I was editing a lit journal, I would expect to reject most of the submissions, if only because I'd have limited space to print stories. So I would be the final filter in that publication chain.

    But, as Beth says, writers should get feedback on their work before it's sent out to publishers. That can be other writers, trusted readers, an agent or whomever. It seems to me that more experienced writers, especially published writers, have much smaller groups of readers looking at their writing before publication than less experienced writers do. The better one gets as a writer, the more one is able to be his own filter.

    It amazes me that there are so many people writing. When I was a kid, I had this idea that there were only a few hundred people writing books, that novelists were a rare breed. I was very wrong about that. But I don't think that the idea of writers being in competition for readers is healthy. Do regular readers of SmokeLong read a lot of other lit journals? Do they read Paris Review or Glimmer Train or Firebox5000 or Zoetrope or Yellow Silk or Granta? I don't know. And I'm way off topic.

  12. Beth, really well said. I realize that, while I am currently relying on agents to get my work out to the public, I do tend to respect my fellow writers' opinions more these days. The two opinions aren't necessarily compatible, but I've learned to trust the people I admire most. Hopefully, when I get an agent, she or he will be someone I look up to as a reader and as a business person.

    Jennifer, these are excellent thoughts. Yes, as I was writing this post (and a little before, admittedly) I started to feel the same way. We writers are also creating the problem. I think F. P. is saying that too, more or less. I'll try my best to answer your question about lit mags, but I honestly don't know. My feeling is that the number of submissions is higher than the number of readers. I think that, for the most part, the readers of a literary magazine are the people whose stories are in it. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't know. On the other hand, with one of my stories that was published, I got a small group of followers that really liked it. That was a welcome surprise, so I think there are some pure readers out there for the lit mags.

    How do I think literary fiction would fare in the real world? On the one hand, we have Harry Potter and Twilight. (Harry Potter is well-written, Twilight, I haven't recently started but can't comment on yet.) On the other hand, as I've been following Amazon ratings for another post, some literary books are doing quite well. Cormac McCarthy's The Road, Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth, and Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge are all doing quite well, I'm happy to report. The Help is also doing really well, but I'm not sure if that is literary or not. I haven't read it yet. So, I do think there is a market for literary writing.

  13. Great question Davin. I think (for me) the answer is that I want to know right away whether I've crafted something decent or horrible. I want honesty at all points in my life, and dealing with it is my burden to bear. I also do some editing of articles for an online site ( and I try to be fair but honest in my appraisals of other's work. They deserve to know the truth, even if the truth is a bit harsh.

    As far as your feelings that you're telling writers you hate them, keep telling yourself it's not personal (at least hopefully it isn't). You have a job to do, and if you aren't rejecting work that isn't ready for publication, you're doing yourself and the author a disservice. I'm sure though that anyone who knows your style or has paid attention even a little should realize you're just doing what you should be doing.

    We have to have a thick skin, an open mind, and the ability to change in this industry. Anything less and we're going to continue to perform at less than exceptional.

  14. Ann, thanks a lot for some great thoughts! Your last point is a good one, but who decides what's impeccable? I think that's the dilemma. I'm happy to do it, but I think I fall more into the summer intern category than anything else, so most people probably don't want me in charge! :P

  15. I like anonymity. Now that I'm calloused, having submitted short stories for a few years now, I love the challenge of making it out of the slush pile. If I peak an exhausted intern, than the editor's interest, I consider that an amazing accomplishment, that I'm worthy.

    When rejected, I take my lumps.

  16. Hmmm. Good point Davin. Who *is* judge and jury on what constitutes "impeccable writing"? Writing and reading are so subjective that what one person views as brilliant, another may simply gloss over. I suppose, for you, (or any intern/editor/agent), you can ony go with your gut instinct; that "feeling" that says *this* story talks to me! (and hope it talks to others as well!)

  17. Scott, I forgot to mention that with Jennifer's comment. Again, this is just a guess and based on my own experience, but I think you're both right that may short story submissions are attempts at making your query letter more impressive. I've done that. Sometimes I love my short story and want to show it to the world. Sometimes I just want to say I have another publication. I don't think people read all the lit mags they submit to, but to be fair that would be a very expensive activity, even if we wanted to. I'd love to have five or six subscriptions to lit mags, but I don't.

    It amazes me too that there are so many writers! There are also a lot of actors and musicians, so somewhere along the line we must have decided that these activities were more worthwhile than, say, being an agent. I think that's probably do to ignorance than anything, which is understandable. I suppose it can be unhealthy to view this as competition for writers. I admit that's how I see it, though. At SmokeLong I have to turn down plenty of stories that are perfectly fine simply because I like other stories more.

    Eric, thanks a lot for your comments! And, thanks for trying to comfort me. :) With the rejections, it does feel personal sometimes. I mean, it's my personal opinion and nothing more, right? As I send out rejections, I'm trying to offer personal comments on more of them. I'm getting to about 50% personal rejections now, which I think is good.

  18. To quickly answer the question of how our readership compares to our submissions: over the past year, our unique visitors per month has ranged between 8,099 (November '08) and 12,406 (March '09). By comparison, we average about 400 submissions per month. Even if we assume that only 10% of those visitors are actually reading, readers outnumber submitters between 2:1 and 3:1. And hopefully, the rate of visitors actually reading is much better than 10%.

  19. Okay, I have a confession. Another part to this post that I didn't mention was that as the lead editor was leaving, he was google alerted that someone had blogged about him. The blog post was about how hurt a writer was after getting a form rejection. And, I've been on another discussion board where a perfectly good writer was also complaining about this rejection. I feel like writers should understand, but people are still getting upset, so what can we do to make things better?

  20. Rebecca, thank you very much for saying that. I realize I view this the same way. I recently had a full manuscript request from an assistant at an agent. I was thrilled, then even more thrilled when the assistant passed it on to the head agent. In the end, the head agent didn't go for it, but she said nice things, and the assistant said even nicer things. So, I felt like I had made progress even though there was no offer for representation.

    Ann, I hope so too. I've heard one agent describe how she decides what she takes, and this method has never left me. She uses the goosebump test. If she gets goosebumps anytime while she's reading a piece, then she likes it. I try to use that criterion whenever possible.

  21. Dave, thanks a lot for jumping in on this! For everyone else who's wondering, Dave Clapper is the founder of SmokeLong. He's a great guy and really supported me and my work when I was getting started as a writer.

  22. Davin: Oh, form rejections. A couple of years ago I got a form rejection from NOON that was a quarter-sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 paper with the typewritten sentence: "We weren't able to find a place for you in NOON!" and nothing else. I was fine with that.

    Perhaps you could post an alert on the submissions page at SmokeLong:

    IF WE DON'T ACCEPT YOUR STORY, you will probably receive a form rejection letter, but we still love you.

    Then again, you could just accept that the rejected writer's feelings aren't your responsibility. In my day job, I tell people "no" all the time and have gotten a reputation as a sort of heartless bastard. I go home and cry for a while, then write about eels until I feel better.

  23. It is a necessary evil, really. The truth is that people query and submit before they are 'ready'. I know, I've done it in the past. I didn't know it at the time, but a few rejections made me turn to my work and really ask where it was in relation to the competition. It made me want to improve, shine and polish, learn and revise.

    It would be great if there was a computer software program that you could use to review your ms and have it give a rating of "ready to query" or "needs three more revisions" or "are you kidding me?!".

    Actually, that really WOULD be cool. But *sigh* we are left to our own devices and the road to publication is far less clear.

    And - have to say - my first favorite book as a child was Green Eggs and Ham. I memorized every single word and said them over. and over. and over. and over. I'm surprised my family didn't leave me on the side of the road ;)

  24. Scott, you're absolutely right. Sometimes it just gets to me. I know that there is at least one journal that I would really love to be a part of. Their publication is beautiful, and I admire the stories they publish. But, I've gotten multiple form rejections from them.

    Tess, this is way off topic, but one of my best experiences I've had with my young nephew is reading Green Eggs and Ham to him. Every time I asked one of the questions, he'd answer, and if I whispered, he'd lean in and whisper his answer, and if I shouted he'd shout his answer. Oh, the little tyke.

  25. I would rather get rejected at the start than when I'm near the finish line. I would like to have someone with an objective opinion cast that vote.

    I think with the Internet and blogs more writers are reaching more readers, especially when it comes to short-form writing (like blog posts and comments).

    The laws of economics tell us that more writers and fewer readers means greater supply than demand, and the general value of writing drops.

  26. I want my critter or betas to be the elimination round for me. That way I go and fix the problem and then an agent signs me because the elimination round had already taken place. WOOHOO! :)

    Are you saying that the too many writers -too few readers problem can be solved if people would realize their potential? If they would revise until it's right? You're right on, my friend. Would that solve the problem? Partially.

    The reason you care so much is because you know how the rejected writer is going to feel. He's gonna feel, well, rejected. So you being a writer understand and that is why it's hard for you. :)

  27. Too true. I'm sorry you're having to give out rejections right now. Not a fun job.

    It doesn't really matter how or at what level I get a rejection--they all are hard to take! But I learn from each one, so no more complaining.

  28. I love SmokeLong! When I was a newspaper features writer I interviewed Tod Goldberg and read his story in SmokeLong as part of my research for the interview. How cool you work there.
    I don't know that there is any way to take the sting out of rejection, but it certainly can't hurt to get a note saying the editor is sorry to have to turn it down.
    I'm thinking this is a lot like other forms of entertainment. Not every band is U2, some play honkey-tonks and have faithful fans in small venues. Not every artist is in the Met, but some make a living selling crafts at fairs. What would be a writerly equivalent? Small presses, chapbooks, self-pub?
    I guess each individual must decide how hard and long to climb the publishing mountain or when to set up camp elsewhere.

  29. Whew. So many great comments with an awesome post.

    I think if people rant and rave about a form rejection, they don't really know too much about this writing process. And I don't think it's any intern's/editor's/agent's problem to worry about those kind of hurt feelings.

    I also am amazed about how many writers there are. I used to feel like I was special, wanting to be a writer. But now I know I'm just like everyone else! This realization has made me want to retreat and just write for myself. I would really like to focus on loving writing and creating great stories before publication. But it's hard to forget about publication, b/c I want that too.

    I also wish I could subscribe to more literary journals, but it is very expensive. I think a writer should be familiar with the journal he or she is submitting to, but I don't think it's reasonable that I writer reads all of them.

    And yeah, there are more writers than readers. Then again, I've read more books than I've written, so, I don't know.

    Ugh, writing. Sometimes I'm so hopeful. Sometimes I'm so not.

  30. ...Because I liked there years ago, I tried Soho Press repeatedly and repeatedly got rejected. One time the editor even copy-edited almost half my novel’s manuscript, said she liked a lot of it, but the story was "too small" for them. I stopped trying them; I won't try them again for various reasons.

    Unfortunately, the places and people you like don’t necessarily like you back. This often happens with me, in both directions, both as the liker and disliker, and with my also being the object of someone else's interest.

    As far as being eliminated, to me, readers are the only eliminators I really care about.* I honestly don't care what my peer writers say as writers about my writing, as in critiques, especially from writers who can't put their writing egos aside. I also don't care what editors say, agents, publishers--what do they all matter? I write for ME first, then READERS second. Sometimes those other-group members are readers too.

    Still, I'm more interested in what nonwriting-and-publishing-related people say about my work. I don't believe in art for art's sake. If my art (or whoever's art) has no social context outside the arts, then I've failed as an artist. Maybe I should start calling myself a worldist or something, as I care more about the world outside the arts than the world inside the arts.

    (*I really think all writers should feel this way, but they don't. This is partly why so many nonwriting-related readers have disappeared: they aren't valued enough anymore. Writers have boxed themselves into relying on getting reads from other writers. This is a big mistake. I appreciate when other writers read my works, and I like finding good stuff by other writers, but we really shouldn't rely on each other. Yet many of us are becoming forced to. And this sucks.)

  31. Rick, nice point. The problem, though is that our work gets better near the finish line, and that's probably the best time to show it to people. You're right with that economics lesson. Do we just have to accept that?

    Robyn, I think realizing one's potential is part of it. But, I also just remember, when I was a painter, the joy I got when ONE person bought a painting of mine and put it up on her wall. I was so happy to make one person happy. Now, is it right that my goal is to make 5000 people happy? What if I was only aiming for 20?

    Jill, well said. I guess if we just accept that it's hard and try to learn from it, then we will still gain something from the experience.

    Tricia, well said. I'm glad you like SmokeLong. Tod Goldberg is well known here at UCLA where I work. :)

    Annie, it's a strange problem, huh? Like you I try to please myself but I want to share my work with others. It doesn't make sense, but at the same time we should try not to get so discouraged that we don't write.

    F. P., thanks for your further thoughts. Like you, I think that the writing should serve a larger purpose, but I also think the conversation artists have with each other is valid. I think that art should be what we want it to be. I have my own personal views on what I want it to be for me, but that won't apply to everyone else. And, my intentions won't always manifest the way I want them to. Sometimes that's part of the fun. I think I can be completely self-indulgent, and someone else might claim that it serves a larger social purpose.

  32. Ah, balance. Today I just found an email from a writer I had sent out a form rejection to, and she thanked me for reading her story. That just made my day.

  33. Glad you got a thank you too, but I bet they are few and far between.

    elimination is part of the process.

    Writing is a numbers game - like getting cast in a part on stage / film.

    I think the first elimination has to be myself... knowing the story doesn't fit that publication. Second, my agent (he gave me good advice on a ms that was already requested by an editor... the ms is being revised again before the editor sees it!) And even with agent submissions, some editors are not going to click with that manuscript.

    Rejects are part of the job. Those who say "I'm going to write a book someday" and haven't typed a word, or others who have created an entire novel but haven't sent it out - they've never had a rejection in their inbox / snail mail box.

    So that rejection -that communication - is part of the process. It is something that says 'you are working at your craft'

  34. As someone who has stepped niavely into the "querying trenches" as Lady Glamis so aptly puts it, I can safely say that rejection is painful, but that it does help to ensure a better quality to the books that are published. It's tough to hear the someone isn't interested in my work, but I think it just makes me better the next time around. I would definitely rather find out from an experienced agent than from no one looking twice at my book in a store.

  35. Hi David,

    I responded to your comment from earlier.

  36. Angela, Good points. Yes, I think other people were implying it here, but no one really said it directly. The writer should be that first and most important filters. And, it helps the whole rejection process to view this as a dialog, which it can be in the best of times. It's unfortunate that more agents seem to be too busy to even reject you these days.

    Dominique, thanks for your thoughts. And, good luck as you navigate through the trenches! Hopefully you've got a good crew on your side.

    Thanks, Brandi. Got it.

  37. Davin,

    I look at rejection from an agent or publisher different than critiques. Your writing group will probably give your revised work a second shot; most publishers and many agents will not. Their rejection is more conclusive.

    My economic theory is sound as a generalization, but (thankfully) if we control for variables such as long form / short form and social relevance of the story the playing field levels out some.

    Many people start writing novels, but the majority do not finish them. I'm sure there are plenty of people querying their awesome 100 pages thinking "a contract is exactly what I need to finish this masterpiece."

    Social relevance is difficult to quantify or predict. The love story behind Twilight had a high degree of social relevance. Like it or not it is indisputable that it resonated deeply with many people. Same with Harry Potter. Same with The DaVinci Code. Same with The Road.

    To some degree we can also include good writing as a variable. I'm going to define this as something that is mechanically correct. Not dialogue tags, passive voice, and adverbs, which I think fall into the subjective areas of style or voice.

    If you keep mixing past and present tense, it's bad writing. If you splice your commas and dangle your participles, it's bad writing. If you use words incorrectly, that's bad writing.

  38. Is the premise that there are more writers than readers hyperbole, or are people serious about that? I know a ridiculous number of writers, just because of what I do, but I can't think of a single one of them who is not also a reader. And I look at my family, for example, and I see that all of them are readers (in some cases, much more avid readers than me), but only two of us (my aunt and I) have ever even tried to have our own writing published. Maybe I come from an oddly bookish family, but I think of all the people I see reading books on buses, and I don't think all of them are writers (and even if they are, again, they're readers as well).

    Has the ratio of writers to readers changed? Yeah, I'll buy that. But I don't know that it's such a bad thing. More stuff to read.

  39. This is a tough one, Davin. I think the current process, for the most part, does a good job, but I'm also worried that it's overwhelmed. All of the agents reporting query stats are showing an incredible number of queries and rejections (Janet Reid, Jennifer Jackson for starters). So I think something in the process needs tightening. If an agent is reading 300 queries a week and requesting one partial, there needs to be a better filter in place. It's a bit of a reverse in thinking, but I wonder if agents shouldn't use some sort of service that knocks out queries for the basic reasons: incomplete manuscript, wrong genre, etc. A third party query filter might help lighten the flood of queries out there right now.

    As for readership, I personally think we each should be doing everything we can to encourage reading, and not just for our own future sales. This is why the current explosion in YA reading gives me hope. I want to think it's a kickstart to increase reading in the coming generations.

  40. I have so much to learn about how publishing works... so many hoops, so little time. I suppose since I'm not worrying about getting published at this point, ignorance is bliss. My Inner Critic is hard enough on me as it is, so while I'm still cutting my teeth on blogging, I can relax a bit and write for me - not with an editor in mind. Will my writing end up forever being a "hobby" because of this? Maybe. Great post. Thanks! - G


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