Today I have a guest post from my husband Fikret Pajalic with some advice for other emerging writers.
I have been writing for the past three years and recently I finally started having consistent success with my stories being published. Needless to say that before this success I almost stopped writing and questioned myself and my stories on a daily basis. I was sure there was some major flaw to my storytelling. This was, to say the least, very perplexing to me as I workshop and obtain critiques on a number of different levels.
With a wife who is an author and editor, and having belonged until recently to a writing group where all of my stories were critiqued by a number of fellow writers, my stories undertake a rigorous editing process. After this I normally leave the story for a couple of months and then read it again with 'fresh' eyes before sending it out into the world.
My stories have been awarded prizes as well as published in literary journals. In a relatively short period of less than six months I have had 8 publication credits, with two of stories being published in international journals, so I think my technique is starting to work.
I call my technique "The Revolving door technique" and it is a variation of my wife’s approach that she calls "spaghetti on the wall". If you throw a handful of cooked spaghetti on the wall some are bound to stick. Meaning, if you send a bunch of submissions some will be accepted for publication.
I am a fervent follower of this approach but as I said I also practice my own technique which is that as soon as I get a knockback from a magazine, journal, publisher or competition I send that same story to someone else. In fact I have a spreadsheet where I follow all my submissions and I have a plan about what to do with each story in case it is unsuccessful. Hence, the name revolving door. For me it’s worked, so far.
The point is that you just have to keep putting your work out there. The benefits are that if your writing is good, sooner or later you will find a home for your story and with every knockback you're developing the much needed writer’s thick skin.
To put some things in perspective my stories will be published in six journals this year and have placed in two competitions, and this is after seventy submissions. Which means I already received nearly sixty knockbacks (some stories are still 'alive' as I write this).
Fikret Pajalic won third prize in the Banjo Patterson short story competition, was highly commended in the 2013 Ada Cambridge Short Story Competition, was published in Regime journal and has short stories in upcoming issues of Etchings, Aker, Verge Annual, New Zealand journal JAAM, and British literary magazine Structo.
1/7/2013 12:52:36 pm
Great advice! I have certainly experienced stories (non-fiction) being published after several knock-backs, which just goes to show that it's not your story but a set of circumstances which lead to the rejection. I agree, if you believe in your story, keep putting it out there and it will eventually find a home. Persistence is the key! And congratulations on all of your recent successes!
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Amra Pajalić is an award-winning author, an editor and teacher who draws on her Bosnian cultural heritage to write own voices stories for young people, who like her, are searching to mediate their identity and take pride in their diverse culture. She writes memoir, young adult and romance under the pen name Mae Archer.
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