Tag Archives: rejection

Behind the Story: Pantsing on a Picture

Writers tend to be divided between two camps: “Plotters” and “Pantsers.” Plotters create rigorous outlines and character data sheets before squaring off against the blank page, and Pantsers, well, fly by the seat of their pants. A friend of mine uses the term “Plantser” for a hybrid of the two, and that’s how I usually work. I like to start with a general idea of what the story is going to be about and let the details come as I write.

In November, I was discouraged by a string of rejections and hadn’t written anything new in a month, when I stumbled across With Painted Words. They select a new image each month and invite writers to create a story or poem inspired by it, however loosely.


November’s Inspirational Image

I let the picture bounce around in my head for a week, but nothing came to mind, so I sat myself down, set a timer for an hour, and just wrote. While I didn’t create a fully-formed story, I had a solid start. My writing group provided critiques and encouragement, so I polished it up, sent it out, and Event Horizon was selected for publication.

While I still prefer to have an idea before I start writing, it’s nice to know that sometimes stepping out into the unknown pays off.


Filed under Fiction

The Write Path for Me

Like most, or maybe all, writers, I grew up loving books. They took me to Oz, a little house on the prairie, and introduced me to a clever, talking spider. Through the power of story, we are able to live a thousand lives, and better understand ourselves and those around us. I wanted to turn my pencil into such a magic wand.

As a child and teenager, I often heard that my stories were great. In college, I signed up for a short story class, ready to take it by storm. After receiving feedback like “cliched,” “flat characters,” and “contrived,” I started to doubt myself. Over the next few years, I continued to write, joined a few writing groups, and took a couple other classes. The feedback was kinder, but the doubts remained. I feared rejection. I wanted to write great things, and I knew that what I put on the page wasn’t. So I stopped.

About ten years passed. I was busy with my job, social life, and fitness goals, but a little voice kept telling me to write. I was chatting with a friend online one day, and the topic turned to writing. He’d been ignoring his little voice as well. Right then, we set a timer for five minutes, wrote, and shared. I’m not going to say I came up with anything brilliant, but it wasn’t awful either. We did that a few more times. The short time limit forced me to shut down the internal editor that nixed everything before my fingers even touched the keyboard. Around that same time, I stumbled upon this quote:

The pressure to produce an off-the-cuff masterpiece went away. I just needed to write and trust that with practice and editing, it might become something good.

I’ve spent a little over a year writing regularly, giving and receiving feedback, and polishing up several short stories. I finally got up the courage to send a few of them out into the big, bad world, and while I’ve gotten some rejections, two editors have said “We want to publish your story!”

Like other artists, writers create because we must. So we sit alone, at home, on park benches, in coffee shops, pouring ourselves into characters and places. But we also hope that our works will find their way into the hearts and minds of readers. My desire is to connect with others who love to lose themselves in the printed word.



Filed under Personal Reflection