February 12, 2012

WRITING ADVICE – Kristine Kathryn Rusch #9: THE FREELANCER’S SURVIVAL GUIDE – Giving Up On Yourself

I first ran across the work of Kristine Kathryn Rusch when her named 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 a year or so 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, here: http://kriswrites.com/2011/11/12/freelancers-survival-guide-giving-up-on-yourself/

“You are responsible for your own career.”

Imagine those words echoing down a long hall or out of a wind-swept valley of banded stone.

That seems a painful statement of the obvious, yet there are writers (Kristine Kathryn Rusch says she knows writers whose work is good, yet single words derail their career tracks. My daughter tells of a young lady she went to a concert with who boldly talks about when her book is published. When my daughter asked if she was submitting a manuscript, she replied, “Oh, I haven’t finished one yet. I always get stuck after the first chapter.”) that even I know who blame everything and everyone but themselves.

Every summer I read an article to my Writing To Get Published and Serious Writer’s Workshop students called, “The Luck Myth” by Laura Resnick (SFWA Bulletin, Fall 2001; http://www.ninc.com/blog/index.php/archives/luck-myth). The single most important piece of advice in THAT article is, “The Luck Myth is the rationalization whereby a dissatisfied writer blames bad luck and an unfair world for his not having what he wants, whether it’s a first professional sale or a string of hardcover bestsellers; as a corollary, the Luck Myth also involves attributing someone else’s success…to luck (and an unfair world, of course)…luck is very elusive—far too elusive to form the foundation of a career plan—and therefore mostly irrelevant in the overall scheme of a filthy pro’s life.”

While I confess I haven’t made the plunge into online self-publishing yet, it’s a definite place to which I am headed. Currently, I don’t feel I have enough to offer my readers. As I’ve mentioned before in this series, my writing is scattered: science fiction for adults and children; historical fiction for children; science experiments for children; contemporary fiction for young adults; curriculum for teachers and sundry other pieces. My SF for adults consists of five short stories plus one in submission after a request for a change, and the novel awaiting a reading with a publisher.

Them’s slim pickin’s with which to launch a career. So I’ll wait, not because I’m afraid or don’t believe in myself, I just don’t think I have enough stuff that is well-written to satisfy someone who would follow me.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch has this to say: “If you sell five copies in July of 2012 and only one copy in the next six months, then there might be something wrong with the product. Should you figure out what that something is? Should you rewrite the book to death? Heck, no. You should practice—keep writing new material, and learn, learn, learn.”

I’m in the “learn, learn, learn” phase. That includes writing new short stories set in universes I’ve created. My recent podcast publication (http://www.castofwonders.org/2011/12/02/ep20-peanut-butter-and-jellyfish-by-guy-stewart-part-1/) takes place shortly before the adult SF novel I have in submission. I’ve finished another story for young adults set in a world of the story that an editor requested changes and wanted to see again. I’m currently working on an SF short story for young adults set in the same world as a different novel I have in submission with a different publisher…

I ain’t afraid.

At least not a whole lot…

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