I’ve had a story published in a magazine. I’ve been published before, but this one is different. They asked for my social security number, so I believe I’m going to be paid. I’m losing my amateur status. I’m a professional author. Or maybe, not quite yet. When a get the check.
The magazine is Zymurgy. It’s the magazine of the American Homebrewers Association. I wrote an article about the beer I had brewed that won best of show in a competition. It’s a short one-page piece at the back of the magazine. I’d link to the article online, but you have to me a member of the American Homebrewers Association to read it online. Here’s a link to the magazine: https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/magazine/search-zymurgy-issues/
The little about the author at the end of the article. It mentions this blog. If you’re visiting after reading about this in the magazine, welcome. Even though it says I blog about beer and brewing, I also blog about many other topics. To see just the homebrew posts, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “Details”. That will put a list of categories below the details and you can click on “Homebrewing and Beer” for those posts. Since the main audience for my blog has not been homebrewers, most of the posts will contain basic information that you already know, but that non-homebrewers would probably not know.
Update on Lucy
From my last post you might be wondering how Lucy is doing. After her recent adventures at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Clinic, Lucy has recovered. She’s back to eating as normal and seems fine.
I was asked to write an article for the Saint Paul Area Synod to help promote an upcoming event. Since I spent the time writing that, I didn't have anything for the blog this week. So, I'll post the link to the article instead.
This isn't the first time I've been published. I wrote a magazine article for Footnote, The Journal of the Minnesota Society of CPAs in the early 1990's. A few years later, i wrote a newsletter article for an internal publication for my work at Nextel. As Secretary of the Governing Board at Shepherd of the Hills I write a monthly article for their newsletter. And also, my first blog post about going to Tanzania was republished by Bega Kwa Bega in their newsletter. (I'm not sure if the old newsletters are online. Here's the link to my blog post: https://www.timkwrites.com/blog/we-cannot-find-kidamali-tanzania-google-maps)
Now that I'm thinking about things I've written, I remember something else. When Debbie was teaching at Minnesota Waldorf School, her class would do a play every year. For First and Second grades I adapted the plays from stories. The Golden Goose in First grade and three African fables in Second grade. In Sixth grade I adapted a roman play. She had an older translation, so I updated the language and added 4 or 5 parts so that each student had a role. Those were really co-written as Debbie would make changes to my work to improve it for production.
I've done more than I had realized. That's kind of fun to think about. It gives me motivation too, as I remember all those little steps have led to a body of work. So, I'll keep taking my little steps and see what they mount up to over time.
I lost track of which week I was supposed to post and missed last week. But that’s it, no more misses. That’s my goal.
I wrote earlier about having a goal for the number of words I would write this year for fiction. I set up a spreadsheet, so I could track myself. If you’re going to have a goal, you also need some way to know if you meet the goal or not. I’m going to set up a page where you can download the spreadsheet for anybody who wants to use it themselves. It’s set up so that I can enter the number of words I write in a day and track that against my goal.
Yeah, I’m a numbers guy and a spreadsheet geek. I thought I would write some posts about using Excel.
The spreadsheet is still a work in progress. I like to tweak it and add things. For now, if you want to use it for yourself you can download it. (Assuming you know a bit of basic Excel, of course.) To start using it for yourself do the steps listed below.
1.Change the beginning date to the date you want to start with.
2.Change the daily goal in cell I21 to your goal.
3.Delete all the numbers in column J from row 21 to 65.
4.Start entering your word counts. (If you’re using Word it will give you the word count in the lower left corner.) You’ll get a gold star on days when you exceed your goal and on days when your cumulative count is ahead of your goal.
There are no macros in this spreadsheet, so if you get a message asking you to enable content, do not do it.
I’ll go more in depth about this spreadsheet in future posts.
Just so you don’t misunderstand, I should start by saying that this update is true. The “Fiction” in the title applies to my desire to try my hand at writing fiction; it’s not a fictional update. I thought I could bring you up to date this week on my efforts so far.
As I said I’m going to focus on short stories. This has the advantage of letting my try out different styles to see what works for me. This is better than trying to write a long novel which wouldn’t give me that flexibility.
I’ve already got two stories that I had written which I consider complete and I am working on several others. The two stories I have already done were ones I had written for classes at the Loft (www.loft.org) in Minneapolis. That was good for me as I received feedback from the teaching artists on the stories. I made some modifications and improved the stories from what I had originally written.
One of the stories is science fiction and is about 7,000 words in length. The other story is what is known as flash fiction – stories are less than 1,000 words. I’ve been submitting both to various magazines for publication. I’ve also been getting rejected by various magazines. Nine times and counting. I’m getting better at letting them not bother me. It’s mostly a pretty impersonal process. You submit online and get a link where you can check on your story’s status. Some magazine’s send an email when they make their decision while some just update the status online.
I did get a response from Flash Fiction Online (www.flashfictiononline.com) that was personalized and it made me feel pretty good. They told me that, “Your story did … reach the final stage of our selection process--one among an elite group. Less than 5% of stories make it this far. That is no small feat.” So, top 5% for one my first stories. Woo Hoo!
Their email also said that the stories that make it to the final stage are discussed before they make final selections. If I was interested in seeing what was said about my story I could send an email to the editor. I sent off the email.
Two days later I got an email with the feedback. The email started with some warnings. At that stage they look for reasons to not to accept. The comments were off the cuff, based on a first reading and might be disappointing in their tone. But, of course, that didn’t apply to me. I was in the top 5%, so there couldn’t be anything wrong with my story.
Oh, how wrong I was. There were 11 different comments about the story. First of all, these were notes of people discussing my story without me present. So, the comments were unvarnished and direct. They picked my story apart. They thought the plot was obvious, they didn’t like the ending, they didn’t like the style. Each comment became “they” and not one person’s opinion.
I no longer felt like I was in the top 5%. I felt like if I were in Lake Wobegon, I would have been kicked out for being below average.
I set the story aside for a while, about a month. When I came back to it I read the feedback notes again. I was surprised to find that there were complimentary things said about my story. It felt like many of the negative comments could be addressed by changing the ending. One of the comments had sparked an idea about a change I could make to the ending. I rewrote the ending and changed a bit of the middle to set up the new ending. Then I started submitting it again. And getting rejected again.
It’s been an interesting process. While rejection looks to be the thread running through this all, there’s another piece that I didn’t talk about that’s also a persistent part of this. That piece is hope. When life deals you setbacks and blows, don’t worry about what other’s think of you and what you do. Focus on your hopes.
Tim Kane's memories, musings and updates.