March 4th


Nothing much is happening. I’m working on the first draft of another submission for the Far Orbit: Apogee call. Robinson Crusoe in Space is the loosest of interpretations.

The draft is nearly finished. Then it’s time for edits and re-writes and away by the end of the month.

After that I will be writing my Orthographic Ligature story, well the first draft anyway. I know where I want to submit it to, and I have until later in the year to work on it.

So my focus will be on working the ten stories for my first volume of These United States. I’m looking forward to really digging into these.

As a finalé I’m going to talk about reader comments. Some of the markets I submit to provide reader comments as part of their rejection feedback. I like these. I have a writing style that is developing and I’m aware that some of the structures I use don’t work for a majority of readers. Having an idea of where individual readers had an issue is allowing me to consider how much I amend my personal style.

A few days ago I received a(nother 😀 ) rejection. Hey-ho. There were four comments. Two of them succinct, suggesting the story wasn’t weighted correctly for a flash piece. Valid opinions. A third saying it needs to be a longer story. Fine. And a fourth that lambasted my choice of character names and called into question my familiarities with the realities of which I was writing. There was nothing about the story itself, just a diatribe (based on the readers ‘feelings’ on the matter) and an attack on me as the writer.

Working as a First Reader with Spark: A Creative Anthology (another market that provides feedback) I am well aware that it can be tricky to remain polite and positive when writing a note. Thankfully we have an excellent point man who weeds out the snarliest of any comments that are made, and only passes along the most constructive and, if possible, positive comments.

I know how easy it can be to wonder ‘What were they thinking?’, but there is a Golden Rule in offering critique. Critique the writing, not the writer.

Now, I had done my research on the names used in my story. And I’d chosen to use a fiction writers prerogative to tinker with how I used them. For one I anglicized the name a little, for the other I dropped a letter (though I should have used an extension in the middle name of the MC). I know that, for all their ridiculousness, Ian Fleming always used real names in his stories, pulled them right out of the telephone directory. I don’t do this. Neither do I randomly assign names based on gut instinct.

I don’t know the reader, or what their real issue was. However, I was reminded that when I am commenting on a story it behoves me to remain polite, even if I can’t be positive.