Yesterday I got my fourth rejection letter for my short story Oberon’s Paradise, so I’m going to give up writing.  It’s just not worth all the trouble if I can’t get published.  No, actually it was a personalized rejection letter, so it was rather encouraging… I mean, an editor actually took the time to comment specifically on the work; I think that’s a good sign!  And helpful too, as it pointed out what specifically the editor had issues with.  (They didn’t request a rewrite, however, so it’s not stuff that can just be edited and sent back.)

I’m not quite sure what I’ll do with the story now.  I could continue to send it out to other editors.  However, I sort of want to try dramatizing it… making some illustrations for it (not that I’m much of an artist; I stink at drawing, but you gotta start somewhere) and writing some music for it.  I think that would be a really fun project.  It would take forever though.  Hmmm… not sure.  If I start it, I probably won’t be able to finish…  (You know what they say… “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” (Much better than the atheist version: “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him you believe in God.”  What, huh?))

The fantasy short story I’m working on now is called The Cliffs of Oakenrah.  The first line of the story is:

“Never go near the Cliffs of Oakenrah,” her father said.  “Something makes children jump.”

Lots of story possibilities with that I think.  So the story is about those cliffs, or really what’s beyond those cliffs.  I’m almost at 4,000 words and the story is just beginning, so it will probably end up being another novelette instead of a short story.  Which kind of stinks, because there aren’t nearly as many publications that accept unsolicited manuscripts for novelettes… but oh well; the story has to be as long as it has to be, and no shorter or longer than that.  Maybe if it gets to be around 25,000 words (still can’t predict how long it will be at this point) I can try to get it published as a self-contained book… obviously a very short book, but it’s been done.


Scott · March 25, 2009 at 7:54 PM

Don’t give up so easily… you tend to take the criticism well and use it for improvement… at least you do with your music (and you’ve grown with leaps and bounds as a composer).

However, I am somewhat concerned that you, who was the foremost critic of English class after myself, would be writing a story that would potentially go into that terrible system of literary criticism.

S P Hannifin · March 25, 2009 at 10:21 PM

I was of course kidding about giving up… and I welcome and love getting helpful criticism.

However, I am giving up composing… it’s just too hard and I’ll never be good enough.

(Just kidding again.)

Oh oh oh, I still HATE English in school. The sort of “literary criticism” I look for is people’s honest opinions, what works for them, what doesn’t, what’s too confusing, what isn’t explained well, is the wording not as strong as you think it could be, etc. Subjective stuff for the most part, but if a lot of readers think something’s confusing or something seems out of place, I’ll know I might want to change it.

“Literary criticism” in the academic realm seems more like it has to do with guessing authors’ intentions and analyzing their work to a point of meaninglessness, and seems to discourage subjectivity. The students do not get to decide what to read or what to write an essay on, nor are their judgments on what is “good” or “bad” taken into account. Literature is an art but in English class it’s almost treated as some science that is required learning. To quote Orson Scott Card: “… the problem with writing teachers trained solely in literature courses – they’ve studied only finished products that have already been judged to be ‘great.’ They’ve been taught to read them by decoding symbology and analyzing style. But great stories are not made by stringing together a bunch of symbols and deliberately creating a style.” There is no good reason for English to be required, and there is no good reason for the literature used in the classes to be so limited to select classics (some of which only remain classics because they are continually used) and a handful of academic authors. Nor is there a good reason for so much of that literature to be analyzed so intensely, as if the author had scientific secrets hidden inside (instead of just telling anyone) that would change mankind forever if someone could only write a good essay on it.

Hmmm, that made me go off on a tangent…

Anyway, I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing literature, but the English classes we took in high school (and some similar classes we both probably had to take in college) are still truly a bunch of waste-of-time BS.

Oh, and I’m writing fantasy stories, which the academic world has never been quite fond of anyway.

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