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The Raving Lunatic - by Dave Bowlin


I've come to believe that there are two constants in the world of writing:  rejections and rewrites.  Other than that, you're on your own.  Whether you're a well-published novelist or a beginner, get your feet planted firmly in the grit, because your rejections are going to come.  The rewrites will follow.

Rejections can be hard to accept, and harder to overcome.  My first rejection came just after a few acceptances.  I stared at that letter with a broken heart, thinking that I had most certainly wasted my time with this "writing crap" in the first place.  I powered-down the computer, and went and stared at the television for a few hours.  "Why did I even bother?" I thought.  "I'm  not a real writer after all." 

Wallowing in self-pity is about the most useless waste of time there is, and when I realized that was exactly what I was doing, I headed straight back to the computer and typed out three short stories before getting up again.  At first it was slow going, sure.  I wasn't "in the mood" to write.  I was determined, though, and so once the juices started to flow, it was midnight before I realized it.  I did some minor editing, and sent all three stories out to publishers.  A few days later, I received two acceptances - one of them from the same publisher who had sent my first rejection.

The third submission ended in a request for a rewrite.  Yep, I almost tossed the computer to the curb again.

A rewrite?  My first thought was:  "What's wrong with this version?"  After reading the story through again, keeping in mind the editor's suggestions, I began to see things I had missed before.  Most writers have a very hard time seeing their own mistakes and inconsistencies.  It's a very good idea to have a writing partner that you trust to go over your work before submitting it for publication.  I cannot emphasize this enough:  Get Someone To Read And Critique Your Work Before Submitting It!

Although I'm sure he considers me a raving lunatic, my writing partner is Mark Anthony Brennan.  He's been my writing partner for quite some time now, and I like to think we've encouraged and assisted each other along our respective writing paths.  Mark has helped me immensely.  He and I agreed from the start that we would be "brutally honest" with each other.  Sometimes this means crushing that pride we talked about last week.  It's tough to receive an email critique that says "Dave, what the blue hell are you trying to say here? I don't get it at all. Are you telling a story, or writing a grocery list? DETAILS DETAILS DETAILS!  Show me the story, don't tell me the story!"  At this point, Mark will go into what I should have done, could have done, or give me an example of how to make it sound plausible or clearer.  We've shared the same stories back and forth for months, trying to get them right.  It takes patience, and it takes a lot of trust. 

The rejections and the rewrites are going to come.  It's inevitable.  However, you can certainly cut down on both of them if you find yourself a writing group or writing partner that's competent enough to give you (and you them) untainted advice and assistance.  Do you want to impress an editor?  Make the first submission you send the best it can be.  Make it irrefusable.  Get a writing partner, even if they are a raving lunatic.  Thanks, Mark.

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