Friday Speak Out!: Slow and Steady?

Friday, May 20, 2016
by Sara Codair

I’ve always hated the phrase “Slow and Steady Wins the Race.” During my brief stints with competitive sports, I was a sprinter. I loved diving in the water and pushing myself to the max. I tired quickly, so I was often placed in shorter races. I’d win the 50-yard free style, but never the 200 IM. I swam the last leg of the relay, closing the distance between me and the other swimmers before climbing out of the water to stuff my exhausted face with cookies.

My impatience and sprinter mentality have been both a gift and a curse in my excursion into wild world of writing and publishing.

When it comes to first drafts, the sprinter mentality is my strength. My brain works fast and doesn’t stay focused long. If I have a story in my head, I sit down and let my fingers type at light speed until the first draft is done.

I get in trouble with revision. Once I clean up my draft and revise a couple times, I want to send it out to every publication. I have to fight with myself because experience has taught me that when I let a draft rest then return to it, I see things related to both content and grammar that were invisible to me earlier. With every rejection, I find myself wondering “Did I send that one too soon? Would it have gotten accepted it I have revised it a fifth time?”

The numbers tell me the answer is probably “no,” but there is enough doubt to make me wait a little longer. Sometimes I send things out prematurely, but more and more, I am waiting until I know the piece is truly done.

The sprinter mentality is great when I am submitting to places that accept simultaneous submissions. I’ll write a cover that just needs minor adaptations for the different publications, troll the Submission Grinder, and fire off one submission after another, only pausing long enough to make sure everything is following the proper guidelines. Most of my acceptances have been simultaneous submissions.

The waiting kills me. I avoid certain publications because their response time is too slow and opting for ones who promise to get back to writers promptly, like Clarkes World, Shimmer and Fantasy & Science Fiction.

The rejections come quick and hard, but this is where I see personal growth. I don’t climb out of the pool for a cookie break. I keep swimming. I revise my story and send it elsewhere.

I’ve had a few swift acceptances to unpaid markets, but the ones I had to wait for are the ones that pay. It took nearly a month to be accepted for Centum Press’ 100 Voices anthology and 149 days to find out I was in the WOW Top 10. I’ve learned that versatility is key. My sprinter mentality is great for finishing first drafts, but it takes a slow, steady persistence to get published.

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Sara Codair writes because her brain is overcrowded with stories. If she doesn’t get them out, she fears her head will explode. When she isn’t making things up, she is either teaching college students how to write essays, digging in her garden or just enjoying the beauty of nature. Her short stories have appeared in or are forthcoming from Women On Writing, Foliate Oak, Centum Press, Sick Lit Magazine, Fantasy Crossing and Mash Stories. You can find her online 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!


Margo Dill said...

This is great advice, and I think most of us can agree that persistence and revision can really make a difference in our writing. :)

Sheila Good said...

Great advice. I too am a bit quick on the draw when I finish a story but have been rethinking my strategy for some time. Congratulations on making the top 10 in the WOW contest.

@sheilamgood at Cow Pasture Chronicles

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