Sending Out Creative Work to Publishers

00x09910I am challenging myself to send some creative work out to publishers, so yesterday I sent out four pieces, and it took me most of the day. Here’s why….

1) I had no idea where the best place was to send each story.

All the pieces I sent out yesterday were short short (flash) fiction, which has a less traditional market. I have been reading many of the online journals who publish Flash, but felt like I needed to read more to work out the best fit for my stuff. And there are so many really good ones, so it took a lot of time.

I found my favourite stories, and looked up where those writers were sending their work, and followed their lead. I got a bit bogged down in some of their selection criteria, but looking at the actual stories each one published made it much clearer. 

Finally, I chose Seizure (Flashers)WigleafMonkeybicycle (I had one very short one for their one sentence stories) and Smokelong, as my top four for these particular stories, but I could have easily chosen others.

I am not sure how I will go sending to the American ones. I would prefer to start closer to home, but the choices here are limited. 

Some of my choices were also based purely on who was accepting submission at the time. Kill your Darlings will be open for fiction in September; The Lifted Brow is going through some changes, so no submission right now. But I will try these ASAP.

2) This could get expensive.

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I’m going lateral with the images today

There are the traditional high-end publications here in Australia, like OverlandThe Griffith Review, and Meanjin and Southerly who publish literary fiction, with big name writers, as well as newbies. Anyone I have met who has any sort of recognised career here has published in one of these. These are the foot-in-the-door, people-are-taking-me-seriously big guys. But I have read their stories and my work doesn’t seem to fit here. So, I am a bit scared.

Also, another stumbling block right now is the expense. They don’t charge a reading fee for submissions, but subscribers get preferential treatment, and this is a bit more money than I have spare at the moment. So I’ll just read them at the library and dream of a future when I will have my subscription, and the right kind of story to send them.

So, for now, I have made the decision to send only to those that do not charge anything. I am testing the waters, to see if my stories are really of a publishable standard. If I get a few hits, I may change my policy (a form of problem gambling in my future, maybe?) but for now, I will back myself in a non-financially draining way. 

This also means I have accepted the fact that there is no chance of getting paid for my writing at this point.

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Fingers crossed gets a bit scary on google

3) Do I send out one piece to multiple places?

For now, I have sent just one piece to my number one preference for that story, in the vane hope that they pick it up.

But, next week, I will send  another piece out to a few different ones, to see how that feels too.

Just check that the ones you are sending to are happy to accept pieces submitted to multiple places. It will state it clearly on  the guidelines usually. I don’t want to piss them off this early in the game. 

So now I sit back and wait, anywhere between a few week and six months apparently. I’ll let you know how it goes. 

Fingers crossed……

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Feats of Strength by Ravi Mangla

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Here’s another great short I came across recently, too good not to share, by Ravi Mangla – Feats of Strength, published in Tin House.

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Glimmer Train – Short-Story Award for New Writers

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The next round of the Glimmer Train Short-Story Award for New Writers closes August 31st – so if you have something sitting in the drawer, why not give it a go.

It cost $15.00, but there is an open submission section as well for those writers who are financially strapped (it is looked at at a different time).

Good Luck!

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Why It’s So Hard to Catch Your Own Typos

9083244495_fe847438f1_zI have been busy writing and editing this week, so here is a timely post, in Wired, about why we miss typos in our own work. Typos happen all the time to me. I read something over and over, and often miss even the most obvious mistakes.

Not surprisingly the brain is to blame again, always making ass-umptions.

Hope it makes you feel better, especially if yours made it to print.

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Post Conference Depression

DSCF1055PCD is not usually something I suffer from.

Usually, post conference feels more like information overload, which feels like a combination of excitement and dread. The Yay! I have just learnt so much, along with the Oh Shit! I know so little. Combined with a little bit of WTF  just happened?

When I woke up on Sunday morning, there was a bit of the latter, but generally I just felt lonely (like donkey at the beginning of Shrek). And it was more than just being on the other side of the planet without my family. All my like-minded short story lovers, who had been my community for the past 5 days, were gone, scattered back across the globe, dispersed and diluted.

DSCF1060Still, I set off determined to enjoy my last day in Vienna, cycling down along the Danube. Lonely. Riding back into the city with all the tourists. Lonely. Wandering the museums. Lonely. Discovering fabulous painting and painters and stories. Lonely. Lonely. Lonely.

So I gave up. It was hot and unpleasant and I went back to the flat to veg out and wallow.

I cooked up all the left overs in the fridge, because the supermarkets were closed. Sat down and thought I might as well start to read the anthology. And it was great. Not just because the stories themselves were great, but because I could hear the voices in the stories. I could see the mannerisms, hear the tones, and the accents, of all the writers I had met. It was like being at the pub again, listening to them talk, but getting to know a different side of them.

51fSg16YxrL._SL500_AA300_There were fabulous images, that resonated for days. Chen Cun‘s wonderfully amorous elephants. Anna Solding‘s young boy left collecting his lego blocks scattered on the footpath.

I played Tan Mei Ching‘s fraught game of chasey. Rebekah Clarkson had me trying to use eyes 2 instead of eyes 1. And Ida Černe and her neighbour made me want to stay in my Viennese apartment building forever.

On a more structural note: Paul McVeigh‘s kick in the guts short-short reminded me of the power of one lone sentence. I thought I knew where Clark Blaise story was going, but then he took me somewhere else entirely (and it should be compulsory reading for all Australians, particularly in our current climate of intolerance). I need to ask Cameron Raynes how he did so much in such a short space of time, and made it seem so simply. And I hope I get to have another beer with Alan Weiss, because he left me with so many questions. And Andy Kissane‘s fabulous Chagall inspired story made me want to pull it (and his brain) apart, to find out how he achieved that brilliant pacing. Shit!

There were many other excellent stories in the book that I read later, but these were the few I took to bed with me that night.

DSCF1088My usual response to such work is to be inspired and, not just a little, intimidated. But these writer’s had welcomed me with open arms and I wanted to rise to the challenge. So that evening, I also wrote down my first new story idea. And, after that, they came thick and fast. In a week, I had filled a whole notebook and it feels like I am actually on to something. Like I know what it is I am trying to do and, more importantly, how to recognise when it is working.

Writing is lonely. And it is often confusing. But now, I have a new feeling when I read other people’s stories -Community.

Thanks.

And I promise my next posts will be less sappy.

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The Word Factory Apprenticeship

For those on the other side of the world, London-based The Word Factory is offering a brilliant apprenticeship for two emerging short story writers.

Check out how to apply here. Applications close 1st September, 2014.

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Short Story Conference – Day 5

Screen Shot 2014-07-27 at 6.22.33 pmOn Saturday morning I got up bright and early and headed off for the first panel of the morning. However, when I got to the street, I took a right instead of my usual left, on a whim. After a few minutes of walking, I realised I was not heading for the conference at all.

This happens sometimes.

Sometimes you just need to go walkabout (or in may case a small truncated white fella-version of walkabout). I just stopped at every crossroad, had a look and took the road that was most appealing. I found a fabulous bug. I found the city bikes, so I rode around, found the markets and a park, and a few new areas of the city. And eventually, I found my way back to the conference, just in time for a great session on theories of the short story.

Erik Van Achter discussed the problematic relationship between the short story, the novel and poetry, looking at the three waves of short fiction theory, as outline by Susan Lohafer.

The identity of short fiction is something I struggle to define in my own theoretical work, but I often wonder if it is really that important to the process of creative writing itself. Unfortunately, it does seem to be somewhat important after the writing, when you are trying to find a means to distribute it and it doesn’t fit within any clear genres.

On the bike again

On the bike again

Next, I found another kindred cognitive spirit in Maria Christina Dal Pian who discussed some brilliant examples of short fiction in relation to Fauconnier and Turner’s theories of conceptual blending. She clearly used their theory to outline the idea that the short story is a way of communication complex issues, through means of cognitive blending; ie: taking two different ideas and forming a third more complex relationship through the cognitive process of chunking. So happy to see others working in this area too.

After this, my brain and I snuck off again. To wander the streets, buy a few souvenirs for the kids. And generally try to digest the past few info packed days.

DSCF1120Over the week, I heard I missed some brilliant panels – I would have liked to heard what the contingents from India and China had to say, especially after reading their wonderful stories in the anthology. I missed some great stuff on liminality. And I would love to have seen the book ‘bidding war’ that broke out after Paul McVeigh’s reading. Hopefully, next time, in Shanghai, I won’t have so many academic commitments and can go along to more panels just for fun and interest.

But the day was not over yet – and in the evening I headed back into the city to catch one of the five busses headed to the post-conference party venue.

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My lovely table-mates – Bronwyn, Linda, Alan, Mei Ching and Rebecca.

Heurigen was the full tourist extravaganza – fabulous fun in the cutest little village, with tables under trees. Waiters in costume, wandering musicians and piles of food and beer. Merriment ensued and all too soon we were back on the buses to town.

A small but entertaining group of revellers went on the Café Einstein and, after, I headed home to collapse happy and slightly overwhelmed into bed.

I am sorry if this is all too sickeningly sweet, but I really don’t have anything bad to say, except I would have like a bit more time.

DSCF1082The end…

Or is it…

 

 

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Short Story Conference – Day 4

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Friday was a big one and it kicked off with another excellent session – this time on the short-short story.

All three panelists were such an inspiration, giving me lots of excellent examples of writers, who are playing in the playground I have naturally found myself in, that I need to follow up. My reading list for when I get home is expansive, to say the least.

Farhat Iftekharuddin kicked off with a tidy outline of the elusiveness of the short story form in general, and how short-short fiction can still fit within Poe’s criteria. He also asked the rather lovely question – “what is the limit of the cognitive threshold of liminal stories before meaning becomes indecipherable?” In other words, how much can we leave out before all sense of the story is gone.

Richard Lee gave a fabulous overview of ‘hint fiction’ or ‘potential literature’, looking at the ideas such as enjambment. He was the one who mentioned that Lydia Davis likes to write silently and have her readers read silently – to me, heartening words indeed. He also had a brilliant take on the position of this form within the bigger literary picture.

I may have gone to the bookshop - now my luggage it twice as heavy as when I left home.

I may have gone to the bookshop – now my luggage it twice as heavy as when I left home.

And Tania Hershman again gave an insightful presentation. Focussing on space, time and storyness, she gave freeing oration on the threat and thrill of sudden prose. How the short-short is a marginal form within the short story world as well as the poetry world, and how we don’t need to really worry about that. We don’t need to worry about line breaks, or what other people think, we just have to get on with it and the world will catch up eventually.

Personally, my own short-short fiction is not short because I am trying to do something different – it is just short because that’s how it comes out. My stories are as long as they need to be, and for me there is no point forcing them to be longer if they don’t need or want to be. Stories are weird like that.

The next panel was the one I was in, the writer’s perspective, with the lovely (plural) Louise Ells and Pat Jourdan.

It was a great session too. Louise started with a fascinating look at some of the re-editing choices Alice Munro’s made when she re-published some of her older stories in her collection, Dear Life. Pat presented an elegantly woven account of closure and the short story; and how we create the ending we need to in order to resolve the very problems we created in the story.

Thinking calm thoughts

Thinking calm thoughts

My presentation was between these two ladies, to a packed room (slightly nerve-racking). So, thank you to those who rocked up. The paper was well received, with lots of questions and discussion and some lovely feedback afterwards. A few people even said that it gave them ideas for stories and writing exercise – a lovely compliment.

You can find a copy of the presentation here.

After lunch – again at the same pretty beer garden – with the slightly scary super-efficient waitress, who was all over it today, so we were fed and watered in no time – was the big session on cognition and the short story. This session was right up my alley, some great stuff, with Carmen Birkle on the medical gaze in 19th Century American fiction, highlighting that knowledge is a form of belief, it is a relationship with experience.

Renate Brosch concentrated on visualising short stories, examining how the cognitive and  neuro-sciences can offer many insights into how the mind processes this type of information. What was so good about this presentation for me was that she is the first person I had heard of to take a cognitive approach to the short story genre specifically. She has already published stuff in this area, but unfortunately it is only in German at the moment, and I don’t think google translate is up for the job.

Sightseeing

Sightseeing

Micheal Basseler reexamined the short story as thought experiments, drawing on literary cognitivism – another new term for me – which is different from cognitive literary theory. As I understand it, literary cognitivism looks at literature as a way of producing meaning and knowledge, in the same way that philosophy and science can. Simply: it is a particular way of cognitive information processing, that leads to us having a better understanding of the world. 

Lastly, Margarete Rubik presented the findings of an empirical study on reading a short story – two session, done 7 years apart, gathered data from students at different points in their reading of the story. She outlined how the reading had changed over time, likely related to political events and social perceptions. It was fascinating to hear how many ways these student could interpret this one story, and how their opinions changed as the story went along, as well as over time.

And after this, was the Aussie Lit session, with Andy Kissane looking at the threshold spaces in David Malouf’s Dream StuffChrista Knellwolf-King also on Malouf, looked at the Australian mindset in his shorts (I am aware that sentence reads funny, but I like it anyway). And Joanna Atherfold Finn talked about stories of the coast – as a liminal spaces of potential. All three of these papers bought up the potential role of the short story in the Australian psyche – with ideas of glimpses, thresholds, and becoming – as the short story form is also in the process of becoming, just like the country. An interesting new take on short fiction for me, and another reason to love it.

Sandra Cisneros

Sandra Cisneros – stole this photo too.

Finally, as if my brain could take any more, the day ended with readings by Bharati Mukherjee, Claire Larrière, Velma Pollard, and, the fabulous but too brief, Sandra Cisneros.

This packed day, continued with a trip to the pub, where I met some more lovely folk and my note taking continued. I really feel like the new kid on the block and there is so much to learn. So thank you Evelyn Conlon, Andy Kissane, Cameron Raynes and Donal McLaughlin.

One more day to go….

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