Throwing down the gauntlet: I challenge you to write something different!

knight in armor

Be careful! If this guy throws down the gauntlet, it’ll probably hurt.

So yesterday I read this post by the Rubber Ducky Copywriter. In it, she posts about her first rejection letter after going out on a limb and submitting a short story. Despite her success as a copywriter, fiction is a new endeavor for her, and rejection hurt.

First of all, I’d like to cheer her on. Despite the rejection letter (and my readers will know I’m no stranger to them), the Rubber Ducky Copywriter did something a lot of us writers don’t do: try something new.

A lot of us avoid writing new things, especially after we find success (especially financial) in a particular niche. I know that it took me a long time to start writing for adults after I’d succeeded with kids’ lit. Other changes were also scary, because they carry risk. What if you invest time and emotions and no one ever publishes it?

But the pay-off can be big.

For years, I focused on my fiction. When I ventured on occasion to write a personal essay, it would inevitably face a quick rejection. Out of frustration, I gave up writing personal essays for a long time.

But, when I came back to it, I did better. My years of practicing fiction helped me hone my storytelling abilities. The first personal essay I’ve had published shows this and found a much wider audience than my fiction thus far has.

So here’s my creative writing challenge:
Continue reading

Cold shoulder or pit bulls? On Peter Beinart, the Atlanta Jewish Book Fair and how to act when you disagree with a writer

I don’t often comment on news items, but this one is both Jewish and book-related, so I thought it would be worth mentioning.

Earlier this year, Peter Beinart–blogger and professor–wrote a book blaming the lack of peace in Israel on the Israelis. Even to someone whose politics are somewhat atypical for an Orthodox Jewish American, I found the premise of Beinart’s book both offensive and intellectually flimsy.

Should we set the dogs on ‘im?

This week Atlanta’s JCC hosts 10,000 visitors at its annual Jewish Book Fair. Initially, Peter Beinart was scheduled to appear there to promote his book. But, due to the outrage of many Atlantans who disagree with his public attacks of the Israeli government, Beinart will no longer be welcome to speak at the book fair. Instead, he’s speaking this evening at a different venue. (For more coverage, see here.)

Was this the right reaction? Continue reading

A Writer’s Blues

Currently, my least favorite words to hear (of a professional nature) are, “Do you have a second book out yet?” My honest answer (despite many close calls and lots of magazine work) is still, “No.”
I just turned in two more pieces to a magazine editor today, and received timely payment for another piece just before Shabbos. Magazine work is good for me. To keep things in perspective: I’ve published more in the last year than in my entire previous writing life put together, and I’m getting paid for my work. I’m learning new stuff by writing new stuff with new people, and audiences are reading it!

However, when I tell people, “Sorry, no second book yet. But I’ve been writing for magazines,” most people glaze over. If it ain’t a book, it doesn’t count
Lately, I’ve written several pieces which were really good but when friends and colleagues have read them, they’ve said, “It’s awesome, but no one will ever publish it.” I don’t want to write what everyone else is writing, but book publishers (especially in the current market) are afraid to take risks.
I’ve saved up a lot of rejected book manuscripts. I rewrote a few for the magazine format, which is a little more forgiving and a lot easier to break in to, and a couple of them sold. Another, I’m holding on to, because I think it’s only right for a picture book, and I think it might sell after book #2 proves my work can sell well, if that ever happens.
I know it’s great publishing in magazines, and I hate being nudged by people about when my next book will be coming out. Part of the problem is this: I still want to sell another book. Books endure. They get read over and over. They generally do not end up in recycling bins.
I’m giving up on picture books for now. I have a LONG short story (more a novella) that I’m considering rewriting as a short novel for Jewish teenage girls.
Genre: sci-fi/fantasy. Probably will get rejected anyway. -sigh-