HOW NOT TO GET PUBLISHED Copyright 2001 Michael LaRocca
If someone had told me in 2000 that I'd publish four books in 2001, I'd have called him an eejit.
The last time I'd been published was 1989, and that doesn't count because I paid someone to do it. I'd long since given up on getting published again. In fact, I doubted I'd ever write again.
By now you may wonder how I made it from Point A to Point B. Or for that matter, why I stopped writing.
The second part is simple. I was chasing money, becoming a high-powered businessman and losing myself. The first part is a little more difficult to explain.
In December 1999, I flew to Hong Kong for a vacation. The first vacation in my life, really. I intended to stay for a month. Instead, I married an Australian who taught English there. I quit my job in North Carolina by email.
I found myself unable to legally work in Hong Kong. So what was I to do with my time? I dusted off a childhood dream and resumed writing.
I had a slush pile full of old short stories, and I ran them through on-line writing workshops. There are two parts to writing--story and style. I wasn't changing my stories--they came from me and were what I wanted to write--but my style was pathetic. Style is also part that can be learned. So I did.
Then came something that amazed me. New stories. Mixing with "writing culture" got my creative juices flowing again. After all those years. Better than ever, in fact.
Next, I published them. Between March and December 2000, I published twenty stories in twenty different e-zines. I only made $6, but I was building my resume. I believed that I had a short story anthology in me, and I'd decided to try publishing it. I felt I needed a "track record," so I got one.
I also had a novel in my slush pile. A gripping imaginative story, badly told. But I'd finally learned about craft, structure, and hard work that comes after that original flash of inspiration.
You see where I'm leading by now. I wrote two new novels, and signed contracts to publish all three novels plus new short story collection in 2001.
It's a common sight among new writers, and really it's a bit sad. People who have story--the part that can't be learned--but tell it badly. They rush in on adrenaline high that authors know so well, then get rejected and give up.
What defines a great story? That depends on which reader you ask. If you're writing a story that moves you, someone somewhere with similar tastes will like it. Some stories will be more popular than others, but almost every story will be considered great by someone. But if it's badly written, reader will simply put book down and read something else.