Tuesday, March 12, 2013

 

The Importance of Writing Your Best Words

I received an email the other day that began, “Dear Cathy, Prior to 2007, you submitted a story…”

Wait. What? I read the first line again, just to make sure. I mean, 2007? But yes, six years ago, I sent a story out into the world and it landed on this editor’s desk. She’d liked it then, but the anthology that it was planned for hadn't materialized. Now, she was contacting me to include this same story in another anthology. Was I interested?

I was indeed interested. I’m always happy to have an opportunity at publication. But more than publication, I thought about the words we send out into the world and how important it is to always send out your best.

Of course, we know (or we should know by now) that when it comes to our words, they have a very long shelf life, thanks to modern technology. Whether it’s a comment on a blog post or a submission gathering electronic dust in a virtual file, it’s important to think about what we’re writing and how we write it.

Take a query, for example. It’s just a query, you say. Agents don’t even read those, you think. And that may be true. A polite, professional query may be quickly read and deleted, while a rushed, badly penned query blasted across the agent universe may get you noticed—as the example of what not to do—on an agent’s blog.

And then there are the articles, the stories, and the manuscripts, the words you've toiled over for days, months, and oftentimes, years. Resist the temptation to send out something that’s not quite ready. You know the kind of temptation I’m talking about. The midnight deadline for a themed anthology or contest where you’re working right up to the last minute. Or the deadline on a conference submission opportunity where you’re down to the last possible day. Your words are so close and you think, “It’s good enough.” And you want to click on SEND because you've worked so very hard. But sometimes, the hard part is sitting on writing that’s not good enough—yet.

It will be good enough, some day. Keep working, and make your words the best you can write before you send them out into the world. And success, even if it’s six years later, is sure to follow!

P.S. The anthology where you might see my story included is one of Publishing Syndicate’s Not Your Mother’s Books. They have a ton of titles still open for submissions, and they’re keen on getting as many writers as possible published. Send your best words and see what happens!

~Cathy C. Hall





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9 Comments:

Blogger Sioux said...

Cathy--Which one? Is it the travel one? If so, you could come to St. Louis and we could do a book signing together. Come on--spill.

Seriously, congratulations. It's wonderful that there are editors that are that cognizant of good talent AND peristent at the same time. To hold onto a story for that many years--it must be a great story.

I will say that the editors and the publishers at Publishing Syndicate are a dream to work with. They believe in that "personal touch" and bend over backwards to make each of the published pieces the best stories possible...

Congratulations again. And give it up--what collection is it?

4:28 AM  
Blogger Cathy C. Hall said...

Oh, Sioux, I never tell before I have a firm contract--even if an editor tracks me down. :-)

I do so appreciate your wonderfully kind words, but it occurred to me this morning...does talent run out? 'Cause that was SIX YEARS AGO. I need to bang the Talent Jar and shake out some good stuff for 2013! (And BIG congrats to you!)

6:42 AM  
Blogger Julie Luek said...

Congratulations. Timing and luck have a lot to do with writing success. I have two articles just appearing that were proposed over a year ago. You just never know.

7:56 AM  
Blogger sally apokedak said...

very cool. I'm encouraged to persevere.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Linda O'Connell said...

I am so happy for you.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Kelly H-Y said...

Love this ... it's so hopeful!! Congratulations, Cathy!!

11:05 AM  
Blogger Angela said...

So true! I've accepted submissions or queries from a year ago. Most of the time it was a sub that didn't fit with one of our themes, so I kept it on file until it was a fit. I'm glad to see some writers appreciate it! Other writers aren’t so happy about it. =/

Six years has got to be a record though! Congrats on the nice clip. :)

11:13 AM  
Blogger Cathy C. Hall said...

Yes, Angela, I've had an editor contact me after a year or so (and I can't imagine a writer NOT being happy about that) but six years is definitely a record!

And thanks for the congrats, y'all. You ARE sending in something yourselves, right? :-)

3:18 PM  
Blogger LuAnn Schindler said...

Cool, Cathy!

I've heard 18 months after sending something, but six years is a LONG time!! Looking forward to reading your work.

5:59 PM  

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