Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Mule and the Writer

Sometimes the world takes its pruning sheers and cuts you right back down to the roots. According to Roger, the gardening expert on Ask This Old House, such drastic action may be necessary to help, or force, a plant to grow properly. I never much liked the idea. Poor plant, ouch! Well, this week the plant is me, and the pruning process feels like being kicked in the gut by a mule.

I've spent the better, or worse, part of ten years as well as many hundreds of dollars on books and classes and domain name registration, beating my brains raw learning HTML, and later XHTML, and CSS and practically memorizing the W3C's web accessibility guidelines. All this fuss and bother had only one purpose; namely, to create the best possible web site to serve as a showcase for my writing. Even once I finally gave up on the web site as too difficult to maintain, I applied my CSS skills to customizing the Blogger blog spots where I proudly posted my fiction and poetry.

Ignorance truly is bliss.

Someone who has perhaps not been writing as long as I have but who is more savvy told me yesterday evening a fact which I had somehow failed to divine for all these years. If a story or poem is freely accessible on the Web, a professional editor won't buy it.

That was the mule kick.

Stunned and reeling, I checked with a very successful writer I know via his blog. He confirmed and gave a reasonable explanation for the policy.

I see the sense of it now. But, that doesn't ease the pain in my gut. I've always been so careful. I've always made it a point to behave in a professional manner to the best of my ability. And yet I missed something so obvious. Not only that, but I wasted valuable time and money on web development skills I don't need. Chagrinned doesn't begin to cover my current mood. Murderous is more like it, or rather suicidal.

All is not lost. Blogger has provisions to make a blog private. I have implemented these provisions on my writing spots. This should keep them ungooglible and yet allow friends and fellow writing group members to view the work, which was really the only purpose of the blogs to begin with. But there's more to it than this debacle.

My lapse in judgment, or whatever you want to call it, regarding "publication" on the Web has shaken me to the core. If I could make such a fundamental mistake about writing, how do I know that any of my decisions or choices is sound? How can I trust my own judgment about anything? The fellow who unleashed the mule kick is very offhand about it. "Mistakes happen." But he hasn't had to watch ten years of his life come tumbling down around him, revealed as totally meaningless and worthless. Perhaps it's a lesson I needed, but it's certainly a shock I'll take a while to recover from.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Another modest success

Word came in today's snail mail that "Deck The Halls" received honorable mention in this year's NFB Writers Division Fiction Contest. Though as with the HM sitation in the Poetry Contest for "the Escape" there is no money involved, still it's a bit of a morale boost.

Also since my last post, I have joined the Analog Writers Group.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Long Time No Blog

I see it's been some months since I last wrote in this space. Oops! Sorry, guys!

It would be nice to report that in the interim I've been doing really wild things; but, alas, I cannot tell a lie - not unless I want my nose to grow, anyway. I've been putt putting along, but that's about all.

In July I did learn that my poem "The Escape" earned Honorable Mention in this year's NFB Writers' Division Poetry Contest. As such, it will be published in the Division's magazine, Slate and Style. That is the single bright spot in an otherwise dismal year to date. I've collected several rejection letters, and that single HM was all I got out of the Division contests.

However, I forge ahead. Currently, "Spirits from the Vasty Deep" is out to Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show.

I'm stuck, again, on Marooner's Haven, my SF Romance, but am trying not to worry about it. While that's stewing and brewing in ye old unconscious I've also been working a bit on "The Lady of the Stars" and a couple of the stories/chapters in A Very Dragon Christmas. Also need to get back and finish "World Enough and Time."

On the other hand, I've gotten back to a few online discussions and fora, including the Analog and Asimov's writers' fora, which is pleasant. I've joined Library Thing, where I catalogue my dirt world library and participate in a couple of ongoing discussion threads. Can't get into my Glass Hammer Forum account. I've lost my password and need to do a bit of research to retrieve it. Also can't remember my Twitter log in. Really, I try to use the same log in on everything; but, obviously, it doesn't always work out in practice.

I've also recently gotten back to Fun Trivia, a quiz and trivia site that has communities called "teams." I very much like belonging to all these communities. But the center of my online life remains Howard Empowered People. That's where I feel most at home.

Dirtside, I continue to read, of course. Currently interested in Jung. Got into The Twilight Saga earlier in the Summer. As usual with such things, I don't understand why people complain about it. I find it an enjoyable series. Actually, much as I like Harry Potter, I think Twilight is better written and more likely to stand the test of time. But that's just me. Now, I suppose, I'll have hordes of Harry fans coming after me with pitchforks. *sigh* Oh well…

Anyway, this entry is more than long enough. Signing off for now.