This summer has been a slower time for writing new stories and making new submissions. Over the past few weeks I started looking at what pieces still hadn’t been placed, and some of those items wound up getting posted to the blog.
Creative Non-Fiction pieces The Car of Your Dreams and Call Me Pookie were declined by 22 markets collectively and I decided, the heck with it, I’ll share the pieces with my known readers here rather than continue to wait and hope they get placed elsewhere. I’m glad I did because the responses on the blog were great and engaged people, lots of comments generated. It was all good.
Incidentally, Call Me Pookie was originally written in August 2011 and The Car of Your Dreams was born in January 2012. Yes, dear reader, those two blips on your radar that came across as blog posts were pieces under development for ages before you read them.
It can take a long time for a piece to get placed. Even short pieces, 200 words, 350 words…can take 6+ months to find a home, and their publishing date could be several more months after that. That’s why I try to keep a cache of stories on hand and circulating, once they are in good enough shape to get them out there. It’s an ongoing pipeline, where I’m creating and working on the stories, and when I feel the story is ready, I spend time figuring out which markets are most appropriate, send them out, wait for responses, and so forth. Many of you know this drill well.
Right now I have about 7 stories circulating in the pipeline. Only 3 of those were written early this year, 1 was written in 2009 (yep, still trying, re-writing, and re-trying) and another 3 are from 2011. (There is actually an 8th story that may be beyond repair, sitting on my list as “under revision” … but I think it might mean “not likely to re-emerge from revision.”) Wait a second… I’m lying. There is a 9th story, a fairy tale I don’t keep on that list because it’s unique enough only to qualify for very selective submissions.
Oh, I have a pre-pipeline ideation phase too. I’ve got a bunch of ideas scrawled electronically in various files where I knew what I wanted to write about and started off with zeal and vigor, but for whatever reason did not continue working on the piece. These are not “under revision” as the sad case above, these are …hmmm, let’s call them “under development.” Ideas which are funny, or poignant, or dramatic, but mostly still in my head.
In order for me to replenish my pipeline of completed stories, I’ll need to go back to my pre-pipeline works, or start from scratch and apply more discipline to the time spent on getting it all done.
The nice thing about blog posts is I can talk all day long about the hypothetical stories I’m planning to finish, and I get a zing of pleasure at the thought. Hey, I’m completing a blog post along the way, so, hooray for me.
But I’m left wondering if my lull represents a future gap in acceptances because I allowed my pipeline process to lapse? In the days when I was flush with stories, I’d swagger around knowing I had 4o+ submissions out simultaneously on 15 or more stories awaiting their homes. Lately I’ve been lucky to achieve 20 submissions sent on my diminishing pipeline. And of those 20 submissions, 14 of them were sent out in April of this year or earlier.
And while all this navel gazing about my rusty pipeline might make for an interesting read for fellow writers (at least I hope pulling back the veil on my process is interesting, helpful, or at a minimum amusing) the reality remains: just do it.
Get it done.
Ice cold diet cola beverage of choice at the ready, butt in chair, laptop humming, fingers tapping.
What is your writing process? Do you have a pipeline of stories or poems, or a pre-pipeline? How do you ensure you have enough material circulating or in development?