February 25, 2008 at 2:50 am (Uncategorized)

Sorry about the two missing posts, we went down to Bowral on Thursday for the really gorgeous wedding weekend of two dear friends. Now we’re back, I’ve picked up some hideous virus and feel like death (I have never in my life had the run of poor health I’ve had these past couple of months – it’s been one thing after another and I usually never get sick at all – what’s happening to me???) and am here at my desk by sheer force of will.

And speaking of desks, just call me Mummy Warbucks. You should see this table. I can’t believe my already great office just got better… It’s completely outrageous! We’ve turned it lengthways and moved the bookcase and removed my old table (it lasted five minutes outside on the footpath with a ‘TAKE ME, I’M YOURS!’ sign on it) and now the room looks awesome. Many people would consider such a purchase borderline lunacy, but to be perfectly honest, I kind of love that Llew and I backed ourselves enough to say ‘What the hell.’ Our instincts have proven right in the past, and now that I am sitting at this Gordon Gekko uber-desk, part of me feels vindicated. The other part of me feels rather daunted. I can’t own a desk like this without producing serious results.

Which brings me to my latest defeat on the fiction front. That short story I sent off to a literary magazine in November after the Varuna failure? Rejected. Just got it returned in the post today, almost three months to the day since I sent it in. So no, it doesn’t look like short stories are necessarily going to improve my chances of ever getting published as a fiction writer. Some people – including people I’m very close to – have gently suggested to me several times already that perhaps my skill is limited to non-fiction. Maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree. Chasing rainbows. Punching above my weight. And maybe I am. Let’s look at my stats. The first draft of my MS failed to make an impression in the Vogel, a competition for unpublished manuscripts. The first few thousands words of that same first draft also failed to garner the interest of the sole literary agency I sent it to. Then came the second draft. It was rejected by Varuna. It has since seen a third major rewrite, and I am currently about halfway through the fourth. In the meantime, I’ve just had that short story rejected by the Australian literary magazine, Meanjin. Four rejections. Zero acceptances.

I will say that breaking into non-fiction was a whole lot easier. The very first time I pitched a travel story, it was accepted by a major Australian newspaper. Most of the time any initiative on my part is amply rewarded. But does the relative difficulty/impossibility of getting my fiction accepted mean that I should give it away? I don’t think so. It just makes it harder and more painful and more disappointing and more publicly humiliating and more financially irresponsible.

Llew thinks I should brace myself for thousands of rejections. Thousands? I’m not sure I could cope with that. But I think I can stand a few more, I think I have to, although I will reflect a lot on this latest defeat and try to figure out where I am going so wrong. Perhaps the story hasn’t been redrafted sufficiently… maybe I sent it out prematurely. It’s a big hazard for me at the moment because I am so desperate for feedback and validation that I think I do rush things out the door before they’re ready to go. I should know better, but it’s difficult to keep sight of all your best practices when you’re most consistent feedback is a form rejection slip.

Hopefully this new desk will keep my honest.


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