Thoughts on cowardice and writing

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About 18 years ago, I was working regularly as a corporate writer while writing fiction on the side pretty steadily. My dream, my goal, was to make a living from the fiction side of things and to eventually be free of the marketing drivel. So I was steaming along, writing sci-fi/fantasy short stories, submitting to magazines…when I started to get the dreaded rejections. Some were all-business; one in particular was kind of…well…mean.

And it wrecked me.

Yep, like so many bazillions before me, I let rejection and criticism get to me and I stopped submitting. I never stopped writing…I just stopped showing my stuff to anyone and eventually I even stopped writing it down and just kept it in my own head. In the meantime, I started a family, became a fairly successful freelance writer, lived my life, and did get free of marketing drivel in favor of actual journalism for the most part…but I always regretted never making a go of fiction writing.

In the last year, through the “miracle” of Twitter, I’ve discovered advice from wonderful authors like Richard Kadrey, Stephen King, John Scalzi, Jim Butcher, Neal Asher, Joe Abercrombie, and Chuck Wendig. Published, successful authors who are telling me to keep at it – keep writing, “write through the suck,” be arrogant when you can’t be confident, and write it now, fix it later. Why all men? I don’t know. They’re just some of my favorite authors who also happen to have given advice about writing.

I wish Twitter had been around 18 years ago…but on the bright side, I’m only in my 40s now and I’m still writing. And, more importantly, I’m admitting to myself that what stopped me before was pure cowardice. The rejections hurt and I wussed out and played it safe.

Coincidentally, for a few years just before finding this great advice online, my family and I went through a period of one awful disaster after another, which taught me that life is too fucking short not to pursue your dreams. And now that the dust has settled and things are looking up, I find my outlook has changed dramatically.

Now I have this 100% unfollowed Blog …but I don’t care…I’m going to talk my way through this even if nobody is listening. I’m writing a book (which is about 80% finished as of this post) and I’m going to finish that bastard if it god damned kills me. Then I’m going to wait a couple of weeks and edit it. Then I’m going to show it to a few trusted people, make more changes, fix what I screwed up, and start looking for an agent. And while I know it’s a long shot…at least I’ll know I tried and that somebody, somewhere read what I wrote…and that’s worth something to me.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep supporting myself with journalism and a smattering of marketing drivel. I’ll also keep doing fun stuff like Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction and post it here. I’ll probably also post some other short stories. Either way, I’ll keep whoever might be reading this updated on my progress…we’ll see…

–          McKenzie, December 4, 2013

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3 thoughts on “Thoughts on cowardice and writing

  1. psychosis5116

    Christ, this post of yours reads like a xerox of my life. The words could’ve come right out of my head. Been trying for ages to be published. Novels, poems, short stories. I’ve always believed it’s what i was meant to do. Can’t get anyone else to believe it though. Still trying.

  2. Great post! It’s hard to face rejection. I had a whole load of different types of replies. If you look at the post I wrote about rejection from agents you’ll see what I mean. Also, I managed to get the truth out of my editor about rejections!
    Arran

  3. Sanjirmil

    I don’t know why the people who respond to story submissions have to be nasty about it. Isn’t it bad enough they’re rejecting you?

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