Monsters are inherently lonely characters, often seeking out some form of friendship, only to be rejected, mostly on the basis on their appearance. It’s the part about them that touches our hearts, and makes us feel for them, seeing them without a companion, and with that, I ask this: If you were friends with a monster, what would you do with them? How would you spend your day with them? It could be any monster of your choosing-the monster in your closet or beneath your bed, a werewolf, a vampire, a reanimated corpse, a mummy, a ghost, anything at all! Just what would you do with your monstrous friend?
Monday, November 6, 2018, author Tim Applegate will be speak at our Monday morning workshop from 9AM-11AM at the Forest Grove Senior and Community Center in Forest Grove, Oregon. This is a free, regular workshop event and all are welcome to join us. Bring pen and paper and an open mind as usual.
Tim Applegate will be speaking about publishing submission acceptance and rejections. He is the author of the novel Fever Tree and three books of poetry. A commercial contractor specializing in furniture and wood restoration for the hotel and cruise ship industry, he retired in 2015 to dedicate the next part of his life to writing full-time. He is the co-winner of the Tillie Olsen award for Creative Writing, and his work has been published in the Florida Review, The South Dakota Review, Lake Effect, The Briar Cliff Review, and others. He currently lives in the foothills of the Coast Range in Oregon.
Don’t write linearly: Don’t set out to write something from beginning to end. A story is meant to be read from front to back, but not necessarily created that way. If you have an idea for writing the sixth chapter first, then start there. The epilogue can even be the first thing you put down on paper, then work your way back. Scattered chapters will eventually be filled in, and it will force you to look at the story from different angles, which may present different ideas or new approaches. You’d be surprised how well this works when a whole book starts coming together…
Ask for (and take lots of) punishment: It is well worth finding yourself a professional writer or editor and asking/paying them to look at your work. Tell them to give you highly critical feedback with no sugarcoating. Let them go so far as to be cruel too, just so you really get the point. There is a lot of rejection and criticism involved in the publishing industry. Getting accustomed to it sooner than later is advantageous. If you want to be serious about your writing, then you’ll need to know everything wrong with your writing. Accepting and understanding the harsh realities of your shortcomings is a most important step to getting better.
The first point is very important. Write what you know about what you want to say, then go back and fill in the rest of the story. Editing is part of the craft of writing, so let the story unfold as it comes into your mind, not on some chronological journey.
While Writers in the Grove doesn’t offer the harsh feedback noted in this article, such feedback maybe given one-on-one or in other groups designed for such feedback, focused on publishing. We also recommend the Willamette Writers Conference and their various groups and meetups. They offer a wide range of critique and feedback opportunities.
Even the great writers of our time have tried and failed and failed some more. Vladimir Nabokov received a harsh rejection letter from Knopf upon submitting Lolita, which would later go on to sell fifty million copies. Sylvia Plath’s first rejection letter for The Bell Jar read, “There certainly isn’t enough genuine talent for us to take notice.” Gertrude Stein received a cruel rejection letter that mocked her style. Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way earned him a sprawling rejection letter regarding the reasons he should simply give up writing all together. Tim Burton’s first illustrated book, The Giant Zlig, got the thumbs down from Walt Disney Productions, and even Jack Kerouac’s perennial On the Road received a particularly blunt rejection letter that simply read, “I don’t dig this one at all.”
Cody continues with some excellent tips writers need to know when it comes to publishing your book.
One tip and quote of particular meaning to our group was:
You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
Looking for inspiration, use your club on our many Prompts.