Writer’s Block

I haven’t posted recently and can’t decide what to post now. I have too many ideas. I’d like to discuss the spring equinox and daylight savings time or the new TV show, “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader,” which infuriates me from the perspective of a test developer. I heard about paying prisoners for organs on the radio after an article came out in the Wall Street Journal about organ transplants. I am also interested in children and grieving — watch Bridge to Terabithia, an excellent book and recent movie. So, like a tornado my brain is swirling with ideas, but look for them in upcoming blogs because I can’t pick a topic from the wind storm this morning. Writer’s block: too many ideas, not enough time. And I haven’t even begun to discuss my fiction writing ideas. I am still finishing The Magic Quilt, my historical fantasy novel for middle age readers. I’m polishing two short stories. I’ve begun work on an essay, my first true account of my life five years ago. So which do I work on in the hour that I have before I go to work? I can’t decide, so I’m writing this blog on having too many ideas.

I enjoyed Jane Yolen’s Random thoughts on writing and on children’s books , sent to me by a member of my writing group. “I generally do not think out plots or characters ahead of time … I am a reader before I am a writer. I want my own writing to surprise me, the way someone else’s book does. If I think out everything ahead of time, I am–in Truman Capote’s words–‘Not a writer but a typewriter.'”

When it comes to submitting my work for publication, I face a similar overwhelming dilemma. Where do I submit? The market is so vast now with print and Online magazines.

Sweeping Back the Slushpile: a First Reader’s Primer is a humorous piece written from the point-of-view of an overworked editor who must slog through the slushpile. Weeding through 800 to 1,000 manuscripts in order to publish four would seem a mammoth task at any rate, but the slush pile reader is given one-half an hour to finish the job. The advice given to this editor is “Don’t read the manuscript.” I recommend this humorous article for anyone who wants to escape the slushpile.

It is obvious why those nasty form rejection slips sometimes accompany work that we labored over so lovingly. As inspiration to myself, I reread an article I wrote a couple of years ago, To Market, to Market: Steps toward Publication. My advice to myself, then and now, consists of three simple suggestions. First, learn about the publication process so that you are informed. Second, do everything within your power to improve your writing so that it is A plus quality before submitting it anywhere. Third, know your market.

I’ll add a fourth here. Choose a project and focus on it. Easier said than done.

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