Friday, September 26, 2008

Boy You Have Been Busy!

Well what can I say, apart from sorry that it's been so long! The last time I posted I was getting ready for the National Association of Writer's Group's Festival of Writing in Durham, and that was three weeks ago.

After a hard working but enjoyable conference there, I nipped across the Pennines to the Lake District and spent the rest of that week climbing mountains with my father.

But just like any other job, when i got back home, I had several hundred emails to plough through as well as numerous assignments from some of you to catch up on. Sometimes you wonder whether it's worth going away in the first place!

It's good to see though that so many of you have been busy. One student, Lara Haddadin, wrote an email quite dejected that her article produced for assignment 2, had been rejected. However, she sent me the email that the editor had sent her, and this quite clearly said that although the article was right for them on this occasion, they would love to see any other ideas she had.

Now, bear with me for a moment while I get on my high horse again, but this is actually a GREAT REJECTION! Was the editor saying she was a crap writer and should give up? NO! Was the editor saying that she should find an isolated garret somewhere and learn how to write? NO! Was she telling her not to darken her inbox with any more material in the future? NO! In fact, far from it - the email says that the editor would LOVE TO SEE ANY OTHER IDEAS SHE HAS.

Yes it was disappointing that this article was right for whatever reason, but reading between the lines, it was an encouraging rejection. Let's be honest here, editors do not have the time to read work from writers who produce completely unsuitable work. Therefore they do not encourage such writers to send more work in.

To reiterate this point even further, Lara told me that she had rewritten this piece to fit a different magazine and had sent it off to them. GREAT! This is exactly what you should be doing with rejected work. Don;t get downhearted - think positive - it's a new opportunity!

Within days, Lara had a response from the editor who loved the piece and wants to use it. Not only that but the editor also asked for more work and the phrase 'regular column' has been mentioned. Now nothing is finalised at the moment, but again Lara has done the right thing and produced the next article quickly. And I've suggested that she thinks of up to 8 more ideas, to demonstrate to the editor that a regular column could be sustained on the topic she's writing.

So what have we learnt from this? That good things can come from rejections.

I also want to publicly congratulate Penny Legg who has just been made the editor of magazine for the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. That's pretty good going for someone who hasn't even completed the comprehensive course yet!

So keep up the good work everyone. And if you're getting rejections, don't let that dishearten you. It could be the start of a much more exciting journey!

Good luck.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

But It Says September On The Calendar!

I'm just preparing to go off to the National Association of Writer's Group's Festival of Writing at Durham in Northern England where I shall be running 3 workshops this year. After that I shall be spending a few days on holiday, so this is my last post for a week or so.

I just wanted to take the opportunity to remind you about timescales in this writing world of ours. I've marked a couple of assignments this week by students who have submitted articles that would be appropriate for the November issues of the publications they were targeting. However, even though it's only the beginning of September now, the November issues of monthly (and some weekly magazines) will already be finalised.

Ideally, you need to be working about 6 months in advance for a monthly magazine. I'm currently writing articles for January issues at the moment, and thinking about February and March. For weekly publications you need to be thinking at least 12 weeks in advance and submitting material at least 10 weeks in advance.

This often means that for the writer it's a very topsy turvey world. In Winter you're writing about summer stories and in summer you're writing winter stories!

Of course, nothing in this game is wasted, those students merely need to file their work and then send it off next May in time for next November. And let's face it, if you're thinking of ideas for next February and March, it'll be next May before you even know it!

Good luck.