Someone on Facebook asked for information about maximizing time when on a research trip for a novel. What ho!
Set a time every day to FaceTime or Skype with your children.
Have something else going on. For example, I practice Tai Chi. I knew that there would be a lot of parks where the Chinese community practiced in the early mornings. I made a point to be in the neighborhood park by 6am. I met so many caring locals. They told me great places to eat and insider tips about the city that your characters need to know. One also helped me figure out which neighborhood in Bangkok my main character would live in.
Spend more time on your book than seeing the sights. Limit sight seeing to elements that appear in the book.
Write or edit on the plane. You write; food arrives. Tea arrives. Life doesn’t get better–until your kids arrive!
Use your computer rather than a notebook. On days I used my notebook, I was too exhausted to transfer my notes. Still haven’t.
Go to a library. My novel is set in the mid-90s. In the 90s, no newspaper in Cambodia published on-line. I went to the library at the Hun Sen University and read bound, back issues of newspapers.
Although I am 32 REJECTIONS shy of my goal of 100 for the year, I have somehow SUBMITTED 100 short pieces. As those pieces are reviewed, I expect to hit my goal of 100 rejections. 😀
As of this moment, I have 52 submissions out–short pieces, that is. I submitted my novel, As Far as You Can Go Before You Have to Come Back, to seven different agents. I received a single form rejections. One. The rest: crickets. Even from the agents I knew or had a personal connection to; and those who had asked to review the complete novel as well. Chirp chirp.
Taking a critical look at my submission pages (usually, the first 30-50), I realized that in revising, I had opened the book at a chapter that was, mmmm, well, dull as a opener.
I am re-working on the opening. And the rest of the book. I found a new editor, to give it a fresh eye. Do eyes other than my own refresh a manuscript! I expect to be approaching agents by mid- to late month.
What, with me being in Asia and the 20-something submissions still circulating from 2018, this years’ submissions are off to a bit of a molasses-pour of a start. The good news, however, is that my submissions-to-acceptances-to-publications rate is dead even: 1:1:1.
Almost as good is my Good Rejection-to-Rejection (Dear Writer: NO) rate: 1:3.
Wouldn’t it be swell if the averages held steady. A-hahahahahahaha.
On Friday, I will submit my first pitch of three for travel articles that came out of my recent Asia trip. To The New York Times’ Travel section. Petrified. I know that the worse that can happen is that they can say, “No.” I probably won’t even be crushed because I am already crushing myself merely thinking about submitting. And I know that there are many other outlets for these exciting pieces. Still … nerves like I haven’t had in years.
In other news: this week, I sent out my first query for As Far As You Can Go Before You Have To Come Back. Now there is THAT whole ferris wheel to think about. I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE. I’m going to go watch Colbert.
Think Paul Giamatti playing an earnest Quebequoi with the sense of an absent-minded-professor about him and a wide-open laugh. The person played by Paul Giamatti is my Kung Fu twin in that we started and will end our time here at Nam Yang on identical days. My Kung Fu twin’s most endearing quality relates to his shoes. We are forever taking our shoes on and off. Don’t wear them in your room. Put them on to schlep down to the practice area or over to the new practice area or up to the dining area. Paul Giamatti will leave his shoes at one practice area–because, really, it is just a hop from, say, the practice to the tea area. Why, the shoes? Yet when it is time for breakfast and his shoes are down at the far practice area, well; we have a bit of a problem on our han… feet.
This next person is played by Grace Jones with a shaved head and no make-up (but keep the wraps). She had no interest in Kung Fu. She came to Nam Yang for chi gong, but realized that she needed the yang side provided by the kung fu–the fire, the external strength–and well as the yin–the softer, meditative power which chi gong develops.
Along these lines, I am finding the strength-training kind of exciting. Even though I hate it. Mostly because I’m terrified I’ll hurt myself. But I’m not hurting myself. After my first training session led by Master Ian–we do indeed call him Master–he gave me a thumbs’ up! And, as previously noted (perhaps in a tweet), I did the splits for the first time in 10 years.
This final person reminds me of the nice characters played by Kevin Spacey–before Kevin Spacey blew it, Me, Too-wise, and then said what he said about that, and everyone was like, “Oh, don’t say that.”
Imagine the young Spacey over there with no hair (The real person shaves his head, too). Then imagine it is the crack of dawn. At the previous crack of dawn, you finished learning a chi gong form, and at today’s crack of dawn, you are supposed to put it into action. All by yourself. Shaved Kevin Spacey is the teacher that comes up to you and says, “I’m about to start the chi gong. Do you want to follow along?”
First departure from our group on my watch: the 20-young Dutch fellow who started his first-ever Asia travel in Sri Lanka with a seven-day, silent Vipassana meditation retreat, followed by two weeks of surfing, followed by one more week of silent Vipassana meditation. He’d never meditated before; he’d never traveled before. With two stints of seven days under his frayed belt, he had no problem sitting for the hour-long session that I was sure was going to kill me yesterday.
(Comic hyperbole aside, I did ok for a 1/2-hour, rather sucky for 15 minutes, and for the last 15, it was like, “When’s dinner?”)
Today, the young man took off on a motorbike to take roads north to Mae Hong Song before roads south to Chang Mai. I said, “Wouldn’t it be faster to go straight to Chiang Mai?”
He said, “I like driving.” In the movie, he would be played by a young Brad Pitt.
I was going to post this YTD yesterday. I am glad that I decided to let the draft sit for its customary 24-hour bake period BECAUSE I received a shockingly good rejection from World Literature Today:
Thanks for sending us “Goddess of Mercy.” Though we did not select this piece for publication, we really do appreciate your interest in publishing in our pages. I found your writing vivid and engaging and would welcome another submission, particularly something shorter.
Between their reputation for intellectualism and their flat-out luminosity, I came close to not even submitting to World Literature Today. I said the following aloud as I pressed Send: it’s my job to send the stuff. Let the editors make their decisions.
Finally: since sending out my three new pieces, I received two rejections of the short story The Great Ultimate. The remaining are still under consideration — including the magazine I have my hear set on for Hong Kong, My Twenties.
My word, a crazy month in the submission/rejection department. My submissions jumped from 115 to 142. My rejections, up to 98 from 79—almost to that goal of 100!
A bit of backstory. In the past week, I finished three new pieces: one essay (Mouthy, Ugly Genius); one short story (The Great Ultimate); and one flash non-fiction (Hong Kong, My Twenties) that I can submit as flash fiction if I use an edited version.
I sent Mouthy, Ugly Genius to seven places.
I sent The Great Ultimate to five.
I sent Hong Kong, My Twenties to two. I have my heart set on a specific magazine. I slaved to get the submission to 250 words—that’s their limit. I want to give them two months before I submit Hong Kong widely. The second place I sent to; well, they state that their turn-around time is four months.