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Every unsold manuscript I’ve got that’s fit for print is out there in somebody’s slush pile right now. Every one — including, through lucky accident, the Big Book. Maybe that’ll be the same old story (We love your book, we dream about your characters at night, but market conditions…). Maybe something new will happen this time. I like imagining that the Grail story getting accepted twice in one month, as an acknowledged reprint for goodness sake, is a sign of things to come. Isn’t it pretty to think so?

One of my best mentors said this was her secret to shrugging off the rejections: when a rejection comes in, turn the manuscript around within 24 hours and send it to the next market. If your entire inventory is in constant circulation, then no single rejection defines your chances at any given moment. That was my standard procedure before we moved, and now I’m settled into my workspace enough that it can be again.

The problem with being a long-form writer is, you don’t rack up a lot of items in your inventory. The items may be large, but usually each manuscript can only be in one slush pile at a time. Right now, my total output in salable form is: The Pillar Story, The Battle at Sea Novella, The Street Brawl Story, The Faerie IRS Run Amok Story, “The War of the Wheat Berry Year” (a reprint, my first short story sale to Black Gate), “The Imlen Bastard” (which was forthcoming from Black Gate, but BG’s getting out of the original fiction business before this novella was to reach the front of the queue), and the Big Book. Seven chances for the next reply to be yes. And if the next reply is no, only six floating potentials to fortify me enough to send the rejected manuscript back out.

Researching fiction markets endlessly, while submitting to none of them, is emotionally much safer than actually submitting stories. Sometimes it feels safer than writing, too. The beauty of researching fiction markets is, you can drag it out forever. By the time you’ve looked into everything on Ralan.com, it’s possible that some of the markets that were closed to submissions now have open reading periods, or that a new editor at this magazine or that press might have changed the submissions guidelines.

I needed to drive a stake through the heart of that habit. Bang. There. Done.

See, my younger kid starts preschool in just over a week, and that means two hours a day, four days a week, of fresh-brained morning time on task that I didn’t have before, to add to the hours I’ve been cobbling together late at night. Eight fresh, solitary hours a week is a novel a year, if the novel’s not too long. Or perhaps another trio of Rugosa Coven novellas. Or the Little Book, if I can give my evenings to research. Or revising the Big Book to a publisher’s specifications. I’m trying to maintain flexibility of plan. Right now, Sebastian’s at the front of the queue.

Whatever I do, I will have the freedom to DO it.

Clear the decks. Reread Rachel Aaron’s essay on process. Assemble the office supplies, and stock up on coffee pods. Here comes.
Source: Dr Pretentious

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