October 23, 2011

WRITING ADVICE – Kristine Kathryn Rusch #5: Act Like a Winner and You Will Be

I first ran across the work of Kristine Kathryn Rusch when her name appeared on the bottom of a standard rejection form I got from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, where she was head editor for several years. A short time later, I ran across one of her short stories (“Retrieval Artist” in the June 2000 ANALOG), which of course, led me t0 her RETRIEVAL ARTIST novels. I’m a fan now and started reading her blog (http://kriswrites.com/) a year or more ago. As always, I look for good writing advice to pass on to you as well as applying it to my own writing. I have her permission to quote from the articles. You can find the complete article referenced below, as well as links to her recent ANALOG story (http://www.analogsf.com/2011_07-08/index.shtml) and the exclusive audio version that us reading folk won’t be able to get until December 2011 (http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=sr_1_1?asin=B005OSNTS8&qid=1317128702&sr=1-1).

I’ve been writing since I was thirteen, sending stories since I was sixteen, I was published for the first time when I was seventeen in a local magazine called LITTLE BIT. I’ve been writing and submitting ever since. Seriously published when I was forty in ANALOG. Lots since then. I write constantly and send stories out regularly as well as keeping up with my blog – in fact, increasing the number of posts since I started in 2007.

In MY mind, I am a writer. A science fiction writer for both adults and kids. I have a vision and my voice is pretty clear.

“…without the writer’s vision and voice, there is no product.

“Think I’m kidding? Look at it from a reader’s perspective—and please, no cheating here. Think about your favorite author of all time. [David Brin] Then tell me who publishes her work. [Ummm…] Tell me who published her (his) first novel. [Bantam Spectra?]

“Then tell me who first published Little Women. Or A Christmas Carol. Or Hamlet. (Scholars, pick something outside of your expertise.) Now, tell me who wrote Little Women, A Christmas Carol, and Hamlet. See how easy that is?

“The publisher gets the book distributed to the readers. Or did, once upon a time.

“That time has changed. Now all of us can download books on our e-reader or via our computer direct from the writer himself if we’re so inclined, and if that writer has enough foresight to have the book available. The distribution networks have changed and now the writer can access those networks easily.

“Mark Twain published his own work. So did Edgar Rice Burroughs. In fact, the only reason we’re familiar with Tarzan today is because Burroughs self-published.”

(From: http://kriswrites.com/2011/09/14/the-business-rusch-playing-to-win/)

I can say that I recognized this before, but knowing that it’s what Kristine Kathryn Rusch believes puts me in exalted company!

Some time ago, I wrote about a man who was selling his books because he was going to quit trying to be a writer (http://faithandsciencefiction.blogspot.com/2011/06/possibly-irritating-essays-question-we.html). I cannot imagine NOT writing.

I also keep writing and learning about writing because sometime I will hit the right person with the right submission at the right moment.

But getting there can be rough. I just got a rejection today from someone who said, in part, “Any lesson learned…is unresolved…[You said you’d let us] ‘know if my gamble pays off.’” In other words – “You have nothing to say to us because you don’t know what you’re talking about.”


Kristine Kathryn Rusch seems to hold such an attitude in faint contempt – maybe. At least as far as my SELF image is concerned: “The key here is attitude. Think like a winner and you will succeed. It’s a variation on Dean[Wesley Smith]’s Think and Grow Thin method. He thinks about each bite he puts in his mouth and that enables him to lose weight. If you think about your writing career from the perspective of success rather than constant failure, then you will succeed over time.

“Does Dean manage to eat right every day? Nope. But when he doesn’t, he knows it and gets back on the right track a day or so later. Likewise, you won’t succeed at writing and business every single day. You will fail. But no one wins without losing. Failures teach you how to be a success. In fact, the biggest successes always have a slew of failures behind them. Failing is how we learn.”

I’ve been learning for decades. I’ll continue writing, learning and submitting.

As a writer, there’s no other choice!

Image: http://store03.prostores.com/dcbcollectibles/media/a8/a20792b129dd069e907f2f_m.jpg

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