I have heard in plenty of places the writing advice that making it as a writer is about persistence. I have also seen the advice to take time and research publications before submitting.

For the short stories I have written, most of the time when I was ready to submit all I found was disappointment. My old way would be work on a short story, after polishing it, look for where I can send that story to. Usually it wasn’t the right length, or right theme, or for whatever reason I had a hard time placing it.

Then, I decided to do something different. When I get an idea for a short story, I write down the rough idea. When I need a mental break from a larger project I’ll work on a short story, then usually set it aside. Now instead of trying to place on story when I feel it has gotten publication ready, I am looking at what publications want and asking myself: “Do I have a short story that will fit?”

Writing is a practice. I started liking short stories when i realized it was a place I could focus on a character or situation in a way you can’t in a novel. When I started doing short stories around minor characters in larger works, or changing the POV, or just explore a snippet of an idea, I found a gold mine. Having something lower stakes that you can get done quick (well, compared to a full novel) that fits in around other work keeps the writing juices flowing while actually producing work (mostly) of value.

I have also learned the value of writing ideas down to flesh out later, instead of letting myself get sidetracked from my current work. I suffer from being too creative– namely, I keep on getting ideas for new stories all the time. It has been a learning process to say “I love this idea, working on it next, next that one would require heavy duty research to pull off, so maybe when I get around to learning about that topic, this will take a while to set up but keep it in the back of my mind and make notes when a scene idea comes up…” Notes are a writer’s best friend. (Well, beside chocolate.)

Letting go of my old way of doing things, being open to submission guidelines with a bunch of stories in mind instead of one was how I got the Red Angel published. So hopefully that will be my first in a long line of successes. That will probably include a lot of fails. But such is the nature of the beast.

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