A Writer’s Life: Update & Next Novel

There’s no news to report. I’ve written two new short stories, one being a Sci-Fi short story, but haven’t posted them at the blog mainly because many periodicals/journals won’t accept work already published “online”. I’ve also started my next novel. It’s takes place in the same nook of Vermont as Tiny House, Big Mountain. The main characters are new but some of the old characters reappear.

I’ve still gotten no responses from any agents as concerns Tiny House, Big Mountain. Naturally, we’d all like to think our works are works of genius. I thought my novel would be snapped up for all the reasons I love it: it’s uniqueness, it’s upmarket literary ambitions and it’s subject matter; but maybe those are the very qualities that make it less appealing. It’s also possible that my writing isn’t nearly as good as I think it is.

But rejection was always my experience with poetry. Just a couple years ago, I submitted a number of my best poems to journals like New England Review, just to see if anything had changed, and they were all rejected. One of the blessings of blogs and the world wide web is the ability to publish according to ones own artistic standards, for better or worse.

All that said, my next novel is a Romance and will be around 80,000 words—written explicitly for the market’s word-length and subject-matter sweetspot. That’s my concession to popular demand and why not? I’ve stated elsewhere that artist’s produce their best work when they are forced to meet the public half way—and that applies to me too. Isolate writers from the consequences of poor writing and they produce literature nobody wants to read—pretty much the lion’s share of poetry from the latter 20th century.

So, a Romance it is.

As with Tiny House, Big Mountain, there will also be poems. That, at least, I won’t concede.

I’ve already written the opening paragraphs. Just 79000 words to go.

And my short stories? My Sci-Fi short story was just rejected by Azimov’s Science Fiction. That doesn’t surprise me so much. I submitted my other short story to the New Yorker. Go big or go home. I’m also working on another longer blank verse poem written in the spirit of Shakespeare—just because I love the way he thinks. There’s no way that poem is ever going to be published in any journal.

It’s simply too original for the generic free verse preferred by editors, he wrote. Trolling.

And as for Tiny House, Big Mountain, time to send it out to a half dozen more agents. I keep reading articles on best practices as regards submitting material to agents—how to format ones fiction, how to structure ones query letters, how to write synopses: as if there were some magic phrase or perfectly written paragraph that would secure an invitation. I don’t think that’s the case though. At some point one can only do so much. The rest probably comes down to ones query letter being on the right desk at the right time and not much else. It’s probably a bit like playing the lottery or gambling. There are some ground rules but the rest is luck. And you can’t win if you don’t play.

And for your contemplation:

My wife making her block prints. You can find more videos and block prints here.

upinVermont | August 23 2021

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