Writer Reindeer Games with Jazz Hands

January 4, 2010 § 26 Comments

Writing is fun. I’ll tell you something that’s doubly fun: competitive writing. Take four writer friends, give them a mutual theme to write on, a deadline, a submission market, and a high stakes youtube sacrifice. 

The Writers

Don P  Subsisting on red-eyes and gallows humor since 1973.  He’d love it if you followed him on twitter. 

Jason  He claims to be one more weird writer on the web. We know better and he has fun things to say.

Mercedes Who I really view as a kindred. I love her dearly. She’s a girl’s girl, sweet with teeth, and ball gowns. Don’t let those doll baby eyes fool you. She can throw down with her whimsical horror.

Harley you’re on my page. She is me. Follow me on twitter.

 The Theme

 We’ll be writing in the SciFi/Fantasy genre. “The first contact of two species with a mutual attraction betwixt them.”

(The theme was aptly provided by an impartial 5th party, and mutual friend to all, Boudreau Freret. He is deliciously clever but don’t take my word for it. Read what other people  (he did not pay) have to say about him. No, seriously, awesome guy, great writer, and you’re a fool if you don’t check him out. A fool, I say. And he has the gift of prophesy.) 


February 1, 2010

The Stakes

The winner is the first person to be published. We will all submit on the same day and await judgment. Those who do not win (the losers) will take video of themselves performing a song selected by the winner. And they have to incorporate Jazz Hands, which are not to be confused with Spirit Fingers. These classy performances will be posted on the winner’s blog as well as Mercedes’, Jason’s, and Don’s…uh…I mean the loser’s blogs.

             On a personal note, this will be good for me. I’ve written around 20 short stories and 60k words of a manuscript and my biggest struggle has been the actual act of submitting the short stories. I spit them out, tweak, finesse, and polish, but when it comes to sending them to a market for acceptance or rejection, I choke.

            The process of writing and cradling my literary young brings me incredible satisfaction, but being published (which I haven’t been) would be an entirely different story. I’ve submitted one short that’s been rejected three times from varying markets. I believe in it (as well as others) but cannot bring myself to send it out again.

            Don told me before submitting it the first time, “Your first rejection is like your first drink of Everclear. You stop caring after the first one.”

            While this is a great line, it hasn’t been true for me. I really feel like I’m going to vomit every time I submit. I need to get over it and this is the perfect way to do it.

             The submission experience has been one of the scariest I’ve ever encountered, I love singing karaoke. Love it. Yes, I get nervous and my voice cracks as a result, but when I miss a high note I make a cute face and keep going. Why does submitting my written work scare the heeby jeebies out of me while karaoke is no big deal? I don’t want to be a singer. I don’t care if I sound bad. Writing? It’s my dream. So I’m thankful to this group of writers for getting me over this submission phobia. Maybe I’ll always feel like throwing up, but it’s something I need to get accustomed to. Do any of you have this problem?

§ 26 Responses to Writer Reindeer Games with Jazz Hands

  • Don P says:

    I never said submitting quit hurting. Every shot of Everclear hurt. And yet, I kept doing them… ;).

    Much like submitting. You’ll get there, I know it.

    After you do those jazz hands!

  • harleymay says:

    I hate to misquote you, Don. But not quite as much as I’ll hate pounding your face in the dirt with my awesomeness (and humility).

  • Awesome! Can’t wait to see Don’s video… LOL!

  • lorenagay says:

    I vomit when I drink Everclear. But you know, submitting is submitting. Usually you don’t get rejected, you just hear nothing.

  • lorenagay says:

    btw, I LOVE this idea. Count me in the next competition. Or this one if late entries are allowed…

  • Simon L. says:

    O. M. G.

    That is the coolest–I repeat–the COOLEST dare ever! I wish I’d thought of it, it’s that cool. It appeals to the competitive side of me, the just-get-it-done side of me, the I’ll-show-them side of me. It just appeals, dammit.

    All four of you rock. Good luck!

    (I’m looking forward to some damn jazz-hands, people. I want to see wiggles in those fingers!)

  • Mercedes says:

    I am the Challenge Mistress! Hahahahahaha!!!!

    I win most of them. Just sayin’. Though I lost one a little while ago, and it hurt. A lot.

    I was the same way about submitting. Butterflies, freaking out. Did I format it correctly? Misspell something? But the more you submit, the easier it becomes, no joke. I promise you. 🙂

  • I’m not worried about rejection. Especially with short stories, I’m sure I’ll get rejected hundreds, if not thousands, of times. My problem is actually sending out those short stories to literary magazines. I’d rather be writing, or Twittering, or a million other things. But actually submitting feels like work, and so I put it off as often as possible.

    One thing I’ve found that helps is keeping track of the places where you submit on a spreadsheet. If you go to Duotrope, you can see that there are thousands of places to submit your work. It’s daunting. And the first few times, you just have to send it out. But after a while, you build up a list, and you know how quickly people reply and whether or not they give feedback, and you know to submit to those places again.

    You also know where not to submit. For example, I submitted stories to Fifth Wednesday and Mobius Magazine in November of 2008 (yes, over a year ago). I still haven’t heard back from them. That’s a professional disgrace. I’m guessing they went out of business, but if they didn’t, they probably should.

    But there are others I love submitting to, like Reflection’s Edge, Michigan Quarterly Review, and the Missouri Review. They offer a little feedback and even though they’ve rejected me, they do it quickly.

    What other magazines would you all recommend?

    (By the way, I love that this contest involves submitting work, not just writing. Because that’s what this business is all about in the end, right? It’s more than just writing and hoping to be discovered. It’s about actively seeking publication and promoting yourself.

    • harleymay says:

      What great thoughts, Jamey! You are right on many counts, one being the inclusion of the business aspect of all this. Great suggestion on the Duotrope, I will look through it and send out that piece! I know both Don and Mercedes have been pub’d at Reflections Edge and Mercedes writes nonfiction for Shock Totem: Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted. She could certainly tell you more about it.

    • Don P says:

      I just got a rejection email today. I don’t dread them because of the rejection itself. I dread it because I need to open up my submissions log, record the rejection, figure out for which open markets–if any–the story is appropriate, look up *their* guidelines, reformat the MS to fit them if necessary, submit the story, record the submission, clean and prepare the sacrifice to the Elder Gods, conduct the ritual… all the while, stopping to jot down any notes that come to me about the current work in progress.

      Mix it together with whatever internal calculus you use to figure out where to send your stories, and it can turn into quite the ridiculous shell game. A game I spent the last quarter of 2009 playing.

      Yet, Robert Heinlein’s infamous writing rules, specifically numbers 4 thru 6, say it all.

  • Simon L. says:

    Am I allowed to enjoy that whips-n-leather image too? Yes? Thanks. 🙂

  • Matt says:

    Hello! I’m currently involved in a writing challenge with Mercedes as well! We’re seeing who can qualify for the Horror Writers Association first. Did she really just post that she usually wins challenges? Crazy talk!

    I felt the same way as you do about submissions (though I’d never attempt karaoke). I sent one piece out at a time and waited for the response and then tried to find some hidden meaning in the wording of the rejection. Then I’d go back over the piece again to see what was wrong with it. After a few rounds of this, I just sent the work out and stopped worrying.

    It took a while, but I realized the difference between the writing side and the publishing side (I still don’t call it the business side). They’re two different things and once you can find some seperation between the two, it gets a little easier.

    Rejections still sting, but you send everything right back out without all the analysis and second-guessing.

    Duotrope is a wonderful place for writers. You can search for markets by genre, pay rate and many other categories. It’s indespensible. Ralan.com is another good one, though not quite as customizable as Duotrope. Both great places to find homes for your work!

    Now get writing and smoosh Mercedes beneath your heel! A-hem. I mean… Good luck in the challenge!

    • harleymay says:

      Those are great words of advice, Matt. “They’re two different things and once you can find some seperation between the two, it gets a little easier.” This makes perfect sense and thank you. I look forward to joining you in the winner’s circle.

  • Anne Riley says:

    BAAAH hahahahahahahahahaha


  • the lawyer from up north says:

    let me get this straight… you guys are writing alien porn?

    • harleymay says:

      Yes. No. I’m not giving away any secrets.

      • the lawyer from up north says:

        i would think alien porn would be difficult to “write.” the difficult part with alien writing is where to put their orifices and how they consume liquids and food, which is always some weird version of how we do it. for example, for those of you over the age of 30, mork from ork, of mork and mindy fame, drank using his finger.

        my point is this… if you have to create new ways that they consume food and liquid, etc, in alien porn don’t you have to create new orifices and ways for them to copulate?

        • harleymay says:

          I have many issues with what you just said. Firstly, you can absolutely write porn. I’ll explain it to you one day, when you are older. Secondly, you do not have to be over the age of 30 to know Mork. Thirdly, I don’t want to delve too deep into my short story idea because I happen to know there are theives among us (cough, Don) we are not confined to alien. “Species” was the word given. While you pose excellent questions concerning alien orifices, for a writer, creating new ways to copulate would be no problem for this frighteningly intelligent bunch listed above. Check them out. I insist.

  • Boudreau says:

    I am honored and flattered by your praise. Of course, it is all true, but still, thank you. (You forgot to mention my modesty.)

    I almost feel bad for the others, such will be the inequity of your victory. Almost. Some have it coming. Others, like Don and Jason, don’t, but still, losers are an unavoidable consequence.

  • Carolina says:

    This is one spanking awesome dare. Can’t wait to see how it turns out. I’m rooting for you, Harley!

  • Christopher says:

    Submitting has always been my problem. I have sent out my novel a few places this year and the rejections have come rolling in. It is hard to be rejected but I keep sending it out. Good luck all of you 🙂

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