Thursday, February 19, 2015

Secret Writing Weapons - Sabrina

When we decided on the topic of our secret weapons as writers, my first instinct was to go for the Ten Things brainstorming tip. But I've blogged about that before, so I can hardly consider it a secret weapon at this point. And just last week I blogged about the magic of ordinary things, and unusual places. 

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons license, and user DarkDay on Flickr.

So the writing weapon I'm going to discuss today is... publishing. No, not getting my stories published (though that's pretty helpful all on its own!), but being on the other side of the writer/publisher fence. See, I'm one of those writers who has constant confidence issues. Rejections used to be crushing, because I felt like a rejection of my story was a rejection of me, because I'd put my whole heart into the story. I felt that the publisher had both hated the story like nothing they'd hated before, and that clearly they were just missing how wonderful it was.

What working for a magazine has given me oodles of perspective. I think we as writers do ourselves a disservice when we divide publishers and writers into us and them, because it lets us relax and become complacent rather than challenging our own writing and constantly improving. 

Another thing publishing has taught me is how to critically evaluate a story. Yeah, high school sort of did that too, but those classes were less about quality and more about metaphor and symbolism. The constant dissection of why a story works or doesn't - and why a story works for me and not someone else - has been extraordinarily edifying and useful for me. That's also helped soften the sting of my own stories being rejected. Sometimes, a story just really isn't right for a publication. It doesn't mean it's a bad story - not always, anyway. 

I'm not sure how helpful this tip will be for others; I know editing and slushing isn't right for everyone. It certainly has its soul-crushing moments. But it's taught me far more than it's taken away, and it's been invaluable to me.

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