Friday Speak Out!: Mind Your P's, Guest post by Sioux Roslawski

Friday, May 24, 2013
To be a successful writer, you must be persistent. You must persevere. However, you never want to cross the line and become a pest.

Being persistent and perseverant means writing. Writing steadily and regularly and unrelentingly. And writing even when you hit a snag.

I’m working on a handful of anthology stories—some are light and bawdy and others are dark. A longish project that might end up in the BBQ pit someday. A story on—you guessed it—breasts (speaking of things that are long), which is my “go to” topic when I’m stuck. (Hey, as they descend downward, closer to the ground every year, I might as well wring some levity out of the situation.) The pieces are all saved. I simply go to my file marked “submissions,” choose one, and usually I work on a couple of different things in the course of an evening.

My longish “thing” is full of snags. Navigating is slow going as I work on it. There ain’t nothin’ fun about it right now but I’m hopeful that sometime in the near future, it’ll be the source of great joy. Almost six months ago I wrote a romance short story. This was my first attempt at writing one. My story titillated but tread lightly in the territory of romance, and I shared it with my critique group. The WWWPs swooned (but maybe that was due to the sugar surge from the cheesecake we gobbled) and I sent it off, only to get a resounding no.

However, after reading the stories that were chosen, I figured out the desired tone. Later, I wrote a completely new story for the publisher, and this time, she liked it.

But sometimes in the writing world, “no” means no. Recently I sent off a story, responding to a call for submissions. My critique group did their normal “slash and burn,” I revised it and emailed it, elated. In my opinion it perfectly fit the description of what they were looking for. When I got a reply the very next day, I was excited…until I opened it up and read the message.

A very succinct, polite “thanks but no thanks.” Since the deadline was still a few weeks away, I emailed back, thanking them for such a quick response and inquiring if they were looking for a particular type of piece. (My story was on the serious side—perhaps they were looking for lighter fare?) I figured I had oodles of time to send off something else. However, I was careful to add that if they were buried under with submissions, to not bother responding…I would certainly understand.

After getting a second reply that was as concise as the earlier response, I got the hint. To send another story for that same anthology would brand me a pest.

With my friends I’m often a pain in the rear. As a writer, I’m persistent and perseverant. But never do I want to be a pest…

* * *
Sioux Roslawski has been published in three (so far) Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, as well as several Not Your Mother's Book collections. A third grade teacher with the Ferguson-Florissant School District, she is also one of the five founding members of the famed WWWP writing critique group. Her musings can be found at
Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


Lynn said...

I too don't want to be a pest, so I loved this post. You're such an inspiration.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Well said, Sioux! There's a fine line between persistence and annoyance, and knowing when to say when is a good thing.

I see the pest factor in social media all the time. But I'm not sure the writers who are bugging me see it. :-)

Val said...

A good call. You don't want to put the 'p' in tenacity.

Unknown said...

Sioux, I did something similar recently. I sent a short essay off for an anthology I thought had a great tone-- a little serious, a touch of humor. What's not to like? Within 24 hours I got a no. Wow. Like you, I wrote the gal back and asked if she had some feedback so I could direct the story differently. Her response was polite but succinct. Got it. :) We certainly don't want to be a pest!

Linda O'Connell said...

Your words of wisdom resonate and all writers should take heed. If a story doesn't fit for one publication, it could be just right for another. Wow! You have a go-to file; I am impressed.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Lynn--I am inspiring? YOU are the queen of authentic (scarily authentic) voices, but thanks.

Cathy--You are so right. The pests often don't see the "bothersome" factor when they look in the mirror.

Val--Hey, you're off for the summer. Don't try to give us all a spelling lesson. Lay back and take it easy...

Julie--I wonder if it was for the same anthology. Did you survive? ;) Perhaps we could get together and compile a collection for non-survivors?

Linda--Of course I have a huge "go to" file. Writers like you--who rarely get rejected--don't have many all-ready-to-submit-again stories.

Jennifer Brown Banks said...


Great pointers here. Balance is crucial. :-)

Sioux Roslawski said...

Jennifer--And sometimes finding that balance puts us in a precarious place...

Tammy said...

What a great post. It's a line we all try to walk, and your example perfectly illustrated that balance.

Crystal Otto said...

Awesome post! Thanks for sharing :)

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

That's not pesky, that's awesome. Those "yes" responses won't happen without the inevitable "no thanks" decisions. Great post, Sioux!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Tammy--Do I hear a little bit of Johnny Cash creeping in? Thanks.

Crystal--Thank you.

Lisa--Yes, we all get our share of getting turned down...Thanks.

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