Monday, May 28, 2007

I feel the need, the need for speed

Okay, so if you've read my previous post you know I made a complete balls-up of my latest story submission. That's the problem with writing fast, sometimes you get caught up in the story and don't spot your mistakes until it's too late. When you're just flinging words down on the page it's all too easy to get sloppy.

Not that writing fast is always a bad thing. Sometimes being up against a tight deadline helps a story. For a start it's a great motivator. And it can lend a story tremendous energy.

A few years back I submitted a story to an anthology. This was well before the deadline and so I had plenty of time to polish the story before submitting it. Even better, due to the lack of pressure I didn't have to give myself an ulcer in the course of writing it. All was well in the world.

Until the story got rejected.

Although the editor loved the story and thought it was one of the funniest stories she had received she couldn't use it. Turned out I'd followed the guidelines a little too faithfully and the story I'd produced was too similar to a host of other stories she'd received.

Normally, this in itself wouldn't be the end of the world. After all, I could always send her another story.

Except I received the rejection on the final day for submissions. Anything I was going to email her I was going to have to send now.

Frantically I came up with a new idea for a story, bouncing dialogue and plot points around inside my head. Grabbing a pen I scribbled down an outline, simultaneously filling in themes and character arcs. Okay, I could do this.

Sitting down at my computer I had the whole thing written in a couple of hours. All I had to do now was submit it.

And that's when my email stopped working.

Didn't matter how many times I tried sending the email the screen just kept flashing the same error message.

"Oh dear," I said. Or words to that effect.

Several hours and one hundred failed attempts later the email still refused to let me send my story. I kept trying. The anthology was a US publication, the time difference meant that I had an extra five or six hours before I blew the deadline. All I had to do was keep trying.

It became a battle of wills. Me clicking defiantly on my mouse and my computer sneering at me as it flashed its error message. On and on we fought, no quarter asked, none given.

Finally at two o'clock in the morning my computer admitted defeat and let me send the email.

Normally this is the point where I would tell you that when I crawled out of bed I found an email telling me the story had been rejected. But apparently irony was on holiday that morning because instead I found the story had been accepted. Despite my lack of sleep I uttered a cry of triumph. Although to the casual observer it probably sounded more like an exhausted yawn.

Anyway, it just goes to show that fast writing and last minute submissions do sometimes pay off.


Anonymous said...

That was a roller coaster ride Stu!
Typical that the email wouldn't work but great that you got the acceptance!
Until recently when I started to write a story it had only one direction to go in - to the end - now they want to go off into different directions. The last story I worked on took three outlines to nail it. Never bloody well happened before to me. Then someone pointed out to me (2 people actualy) that it perhaps wanted to be a novel or a novella.

Chris said...

That wasn't the "Mammoth Anthology of Gor Stories" was it Stu? ;-)

Stuart Young said...

Chris, you've got to do something about about your obsession with Gor.

Chris said...

I know, I don't get out much...