Photo courtesy of NSSL
Yep. It’s spring. Today it snowed, rained, cleared up and then hailed. I’m waiting for the dark of night so I can claim I’m a postman.
Spring is like that, a clash of two forces: Winter and summer. The metaphor reflects the hardships of writing as well: a winter of rejection versus the summer of a sale.
In ancient times, the peak of starvation occurred during early spring before the newly plowed fields could produce and after the winter stores ran out. And this is precisely where new writers find themselves, right smack in the middle of early spring. They have written their pieces, and like seeds, they have planted them. Now, they wait for one to flower. Until then, how do they keep from succumbing to an emotional starvation, laying down their pens, unplugging their computers and quitting? They seek out their fellow writers, and we all share our meager rations.
In The Art of War for Writers, James Scott Bell explains how to tell the difference between a hero and a fool. “A hero gets knocked down and quietly regroups to write again; a fool gets knocked down and whines about it ever after.”
Bell suggests that writers are like a pyramid. The base is huge and is made up of wannabes. The next level is smaller and is made up of people learning to be writers such as those who take classes or participate in critique circles. Further up is the level of writers with a finished piece. This is the level where real writers start. Higher up still are those with multiple finished works and then finally, perched on the apex, is a Wheel of Fortune. It spins, and quite randomly, some author wins the prize of publication.
All the way up to published, a writer has control. After that, he or she does not. Addressing directly the new writer Bell adds, “Your job is to keep moving up that pyramid. That’s it. If you write, work your craft and keep submitting; some day, the wheel will land on your number.”
If you are a new writer, or an old hand having run through a harsh winter, hang in there. Just as the tilt of the earth inevitably brings summer, honing your craft and sending out your pieces will eventually bring you to a sale.
Dr. Kathy Kitts, a recently retired geology professor, served as a science team member on the NASA Genesis Discovery Mission. Before that, she directed a planetarium for nine years. She has dozens of non-fiction publications spanning professional papers to textbooks to general interest articles. However, she no longer writes about “what is” but rather “what if.” Her speculative short fiction has appeared in James Gunn’s Ad Astra, Mad Scientist Journal and The Storyteller’s Anthology. Born and raised in the southwest, she is currently living in the high desert of New Mexico.