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Posts Tagged ‘submission’

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I have a terrible tendency to find possibly likely potentially submittable markets when the clock is already running out on them.

You know what I mean. You spend time searching online, checking if previous markets are currently taking submissions and going down your upcoming list checking which deadline for what is when. You seek new markets and submission calls, but most of what you find are not suitable for you.

Either they just aren’t your genre, the theme isn’t for you, the word count is one you struggle with or have no interest in, or what they publish generally doesn’t fit your writing style. You even doubt they’ll read past the first sentence.

Maybe they take only previously unpublished authors and you’ve been published, self or otherwise, or they take only published authors and you don’t fit the bill. Many still don’t consider being self-published as being a published author because anyone can self-publish. Except where it comes to calling your story published. There, anything and everything where others can read it is considered published, even if you, the author, are not considered so.

Sometimes the market itself announces the call for submissions with a very short deadline to write, edit, edit more, polish, and submit your work.

And then it happens. You almost thought it were some mythological creature by now, but you found it. The beaming golden child of markets: the possibly likely potentially submittable market that feels right for you.

Except, if you are me, you more than likely found it with a week or less, days, maybe even hours, left to the submission deadline. You’re screwed.

If you keep a folder of ready-to-submit work, you might get lucky and happen to have one that fits the call. That’s the sweet spot.

More likely you now have to write your ass off, but life gets in the way. It doesn’t just go idle because you want to meet a submission deadline. You can’t just put work, school, and family on hold every time you have a tight submission call.

I submitted to one contest mid February that put out the call with a short deadline for a topic specific story. I spent what time I could in between everything else writing, struggled, gave up, struggled, gave up, and finally on the deadline date spent the entire evening from signing off the pay-the-bills-day-job to going to bed late to finish the story and send it in.

And then I came across another open submission that looked promising with three days to write 1,000 to 6,000 words from scratch. I came to the game late in finding that one. I threw caution to the wind and started writing, knowing that it was very doubtful I’d be allowed the time needed to get it done. By necessity work, life, family, and all that takes precedence. I did finish and submit that one too, late evening of the deadline date, only because the story happened to come to its natural conclusion on the shorter range of the word count.

This is where my advice comes in:

Screw the submission deadlines and focus on the writing.

Yeah, I know, deadlines, right? That’s the nature of the beast. To meet the deadline you have to write for it.

But, what’s worse? Submitting some too rushed to write and edit well rubbish that may have that publisher filtering your future submissions to the slush pile on auto-pilot as they work to reduce 1,000+ submissions to the hundred or so they are going to read? Or, failing to meet a self-imposed deadline that only you know about?

When I come across one of these markets that feels right for me, short deadline or not, sometimes I get inspired by the story I start writing for it and sometimes I don’t.

If I’m not feeling that stomach-grinding rush of inspiration, the story probably won’t be among my better writing. Especially when I’m rushing it, forcing myself to write what I’m not feeling.

That sweet feeling of inspiration, however, makes the story come alive and drives you with the urgency to write it just for the story itself. That’s the place where better writing comes from.

Put your focus on trying to be inspired by that story you are writing. On writing the story the best you possibly can.

And then on editing it to the best of your abilities. Submission deadline be damned, this is the most important part of that submission. So, don’t force yourself into rushing out rubbish. Don’t submit it despite your misgivings about the story. If your best keeps getting rejected (and it will, many times over because that’s normal), why would they take anything less?

If you fail to meet that submission deadline, life will move on. Just the same as it would have if you never knew it existed, or if they never opened that submission window.

When I am completely uninspired and uninterested in the story I tried to write, I know it’s probably for the best that I never ended up finishing it and sending it in. It’s not among my better writing. It will be relegated to the started and not finished folder for future potential possible if I ever bother revisiting.

The inspiring stories, however, I continue hungering to finish despite the failed deadline. Those, I sink myself into, submerse myself in their dark embrace, and continue to write, edit, edit more, and polish. They will find a place in my ready to submit folder for when that perfect-seeming market comes along.

A missed deadline is not the end. Of you, your writing, or of anything. It was simply an opportunity to sink your teeth into a writing challenge that you can learn from. It was practice to hone your writing skills. And maybe you came out of it with a great story you can submit again and again somewhere else until it finds where it belongs.

Keep writing, my friends.

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