Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Friday, August 5, 2011

Tip O'Day for Writers #117

Guest blogger Keith Gouveia on breathing life into your “truck stories.”

There are so many writing tips, tricks, and practices that never pan out for everyone. Let's face it, you can't catch lightning in a bottle. If there was ONE way to getting published and being successful at this game we'd all be best sellers.

However, there is one tip that always works for everyone, and that's persistence. The more you write, the better you become, and then suddenly the rejections start turning into acceptances.

Discouragement is a writer's worst enemy. It'll bring on writer's block, self-doubt, and envy. So you wrote a story and you can't sell it. There's a reason for that. Nine times out of ten, it's not ready for publication. So you put it away and write something else. So on and so forth, and one day you revisit those trunk stories. Then you see with clear eyes what all those editors who passed on them saw. You're now able to polish them and resend them, or gather them all together in a single book and hit the bestseller's list.

When I turned in my collection Animal Behavior and Other Tales of Lycanthropy to my publisher I was told it was the best thing I've ever written, and then I turned in The Black Cat and the Ghoul, and that was said to be the greatest thing I've ever written. And you know what will happen when I turn in my next book? That's right, the same thing. Practice makes perfect, it's true. It's a natural progression. So chin up. Put pen to paper, and keep writing.

Dixon says: I love the expression “a trunk novel,” which I have understood to be a labor of love that one writes mostly for oneself, without the intention of seeking publication. Here, Keith uses the term “trunk stories” to mean stories that benefit from sitting on the shelf awhile while the writer gets some emotional distance and learns more craft.

All that perseverance, all those rejections, all those blind alleys were not wasted time because now you’re able to recapture the creativity of your earlier self, and fuse it to your improved skills and experiences to create something truly exceptional.

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