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Shady’s Back

October 2, 2010
Guess who’s back?
Back again
I am back
Tell a friend!

Indeed I am back, and look, I have a nifty new banner!

To get back into this strange blogging world, I had another peek around at some other writing blogs (which I suppose I should do more often, but I kind of enjoy it here in my bubble). I find it somewhat odd that the majority of blogs about writing out there are NOT written by writers. It’s all about the industry, and editors and publishers giving advice about what you can do to get yourself published

Now, once again, I’m not always the most responsible adult. I kind of think of myself as being a duller version of Allie of Hyperbole and a Half fame (you know, with no adorable and hilarious cartoon drawings of blondes

Look! For no reason at all, it's Worf! And he's wearing a silly outfit!

or shark-bears); her struggles with answering email and cleaning all the things are very familiar to me (yeah, that’s right, I admire her blog. There, I said it. In a way, I’m even less of a successful adult than Allie claims to be, because although I COULD draw pictures of chocolate bunnies and killer robots and myself slamming my head against my desk and upload them for your amusement, that seems like too much of a hassle to me. Instead, I search the Internet for random stills from sci-fi shows.) But I don’t really think there’s a big trick to getting published. To me, there are two basic rules:

  1. Work hard (this is the one that poses a problem for me)
  2. Don’t be a moron. (this comes more easily…at least, I hope it does)

So, ok, work hard. That means write as much as possible, submit as much as possible, write as many query letters as possible. Man, it sounds so easy when I write it out that way. Too bad I’m too busy watching Star Trek and staring out the window at fascinating things like a squirrel eating a bagel (a WHOLE bagel! How does he fit it in his mouth?) to actually follow my own goddamn advice. (Actually, there is no squirrel. You, the reader, deserve full disclosure. I fictionalized a past experience to demonstrate that I am lazy.) (If there was a squirrel, there is an equal chance that it would be a “she.” I’m not an expert on squirrel gender, it’s just force of habit to say that things are male. It’s weird though, because when I write knitting articles for work I usually refer to the knitter as “she.” Ah, subtle sexism.)

Ok, moving on to the “Don’t be a moron”  rule. I notice that even people who call themselves writers don’t seem to like to read any more than anyone else does (yeah, I’m looking at you, me). This seems to include reading things like submission guidelines. Like that time I worked really hard on a 5000-or-so-word story and then submitted it to a publication that only accepted submissions of 500 words. That was dumb. Of course they didn’t publish me. Likewise, submitting a story about rampaging zombie dinosaurs who shoot lasers from their eyes to Lady’s Home Journal is probably a mistake.

I know a lot of writers are not grammarians or walking dictionaries, and I don’t really think that anyone can expect them to be. I’m lucky because I have an innate sense of what “sounds right” or “looks right” on paper, but not everyone can do that. However, there is this nifty little thing on most computers these days called a spellchecker. And although I personally would NEVER rely on Word’s ability to check grammar, my Strunk and White “Elements of Style” is a handy little volume. What I’m trying to say is, there are lots of resources for writers out there, and there’s no real excuse for submitting a piece that is riddled with mistakes. There are many ways NOT to be a moron, so don’t be one.

I guess there is also a third, unwritten rule: “Get lucky.” (And no, I don’t mean that in the “bow-chicka-bow-wow”, hot dogs and donuts sense.) Someday, an editor is going to pick up something I wrote and it’s just going to click.

So there you have it. In a single blog post I have revealed the secrets of the publishing industry. All those other advice-givers are just imitating.

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