Archived Messages From June 23 to July 3, 1998

Fri Jul 3 14:35:46 PDT 1998 Jack Beslanwitch Thu Jul 2 19:31:09 PDT 1998

    Hi guys. Thanks for all the kind words. After talking it over with Fran and finding she does not have a problem, I'll clue you in to what was going on.

    I will not go into details, but my wife is an RN and she got a needle stick through circumstances that were really not her fault or that is my take on it after listening to the details. Everything is looking more and more like there is no problem, but the initial time was a little scary with the quoted probability of HIV and all the other considerations and whether as a preventive to start taking various drugs and so on and so on. As I said, it looks as if this was a small probability worry, but still I had a few moments. All better now.

    I should be more mellow after helping her through breast cancer and other more minor health problems. It is just that at this point she has lost 65 pounds intentionally, is exercising and even walking up to 7 miles in a day. Damn she is in good shape :-). Point of fact, a lot better than I am (techno dweed couch potatoe chiming in here). I just did not want to have her have something more testing her at this time. There is something very wonderful when your best friend happens to be your wife. Or, as we sometimes put it, we have a mad passionate case of like for each other.

Take Care

Barb G. Thu Jul 2 16:57:10 PDT 1998

Hi Y'all,

Jack: What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger. Hang on...
(By the way I used your picture as wall-paper. It looks great.)

Rhoda: Thanks, you have a happy holiday, too. I plan to work all weekend (writing).

Greg Butchers: Welcome! I look forward to hearing from you as I'm sure do all the others.

Goodweed: Thanks for the peek into negotiations. V-e-r-r-y interesting.

Hayden: I don't have to say have a good weekend to you, do I? You're having a great year! Thanks for sharing.


Hayden Thu Jul 2 16:29:11 PDT 1998


I've been away from the site for a few days, and when I arrive back I find so much happening. My first concern is for you, Jack. Whatever has gone wrong to put you in a slump, I wish you all the best. My thoughts are with you.

Secondly, I must add my own congrats to those who have patted Goodweed on the back already. You're doing fine there, and yep, first one to a million dollars buys the other one a car...hehehhe (do you think a toy car counts? Or a virtual Porsche?)

Rhoda, Colleen, Lydia, Jen, Sara, Philip, Barb G, Brenda, S.N.Arly, Toby B...and anyone I missed: Thanks for the congrats and all your wonderful words to make those waiting moments ease away into oblivion. Look what you all brought me to. You guys are bricks! as the English say. (don't they?)

Greg: Like you I am a misplaced Kiwi, but I don't tell anyone and they don't notice. But let's not be ashamed of our heritage. If I remember the phrase correctly "Kiwi's can fly!"

Colleen...okay, we are leading you astray. Nyuk nyuk. In my mind, along with various wild notions of fame and fortune, Matilda is a combination of three things...and hang onto your hat while I explain.

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong
Under the shade of a collabah tree
and he sang as he watched
and waiting for his billy boil
"You'll come a waltzing Matilda with me"

That's the first part

Matilda is a wombat
who roams the seven seas
She has no need of gumboots
and is very fond of tea.
She wears a yellow raincoat
and has a lot of fleas
Matilda is a wombat
who's very fond of me.

That's part two

Like the Sherman, the Matilda is protected by a bulstered undercarriage and heavy armour. Weight to thrust ratio is comparable to smaller APVs but her fire power is considerably...

That's part three.

Put them together and you get quite a weird combination. A armoured wombat who roams the seven seas looking for someone to go waltzing with. That may be what Gary was alluding to, though we know it may be something else all together.

Hey, how about we all post our own contributions to this tale into the Writers Workbook (which hasn't had much put into it recently) It will be a bit of fun, and we can all claim royalties off it...hehehehe.

Lydia Sweet Thu Jul 2 14:39:23 PDT 1998

I will not have access to a computer until next Wednesday, July 8th, so I wanted to wish each of you a happy 4th.

I hope to get some research and a lot of writing done and will catch up with you all next week.

Maybe I'll have something new for you to read by then and something worthwhile to share. (Hmmm)

Be really careful with the fireworks and have lots of fun.


Davidson Corry Thu Jul 2 13:42:54 PDT 1998

Rhoda --

Glad the writing feeds you. Don't give up on your music. Remember, fella name of Strauss wrote a mediocre little waltz that nearly *everyone* can hum -- almost as many as can sing the "Jeopardy" theme!

Jack --

More than a couple depressing things have happened to me that have turned out to be blessings in the end; I was just slow to see them. Hope yours turns out to be one of these. We care, friend. Good luck.

Greg Thu Jul 2 04:57:09 PDT 1998

Just a short note to say hello, I've been looking at this website for about a month now pondering whether to add my two penny worth. I won't be pretentious enough to call myself a writer, maybe a dabbler and I have only really taken that seriously over the last month or so. It has been interesting reading your comments and views, and I have especially enjoyed reading the snippets of your writing. Hopefully (maybe) I may add some soon for you to look at.
Just briefly about myself, I suppose I'm a bit of a stranger in a strange land being a New Zealander living in London. I've been here nearly 11 years now so out of my 35 years it probably feels more like home now. Anyway that's for now. Hope to contribute more meaningfully soon.

P.S I have my own theories on Matilda, but I think I may have missed some of the earlier hints.

Rhoda Wed Jul 1 22:29:54 PDT 1998


I don't know what to say! I guess "congratulations," will have to suffice. A contract for Hayden and agent representation for Goodweed--good work, guys. And to think, just before you both were launched upon the road to fame and fortune, I knew you on the humble ole Notebook. I can't say I am surprised, though. Both of you work hard at your craft and have the talent necessary for success.

Presently, I am listening to "Celtic Harp" by the Chieftains. I find music extremely inspiring. I studied piano through most of my childhood and adolescence. When I was in my teens and late twenties, I wrote music--mediocre music. Somewhere along the line I decided to channel my creative energies to the written word rather than continue to fill the world with my sad attempts at musical compositon. Still, I love music and have a good-sized collection of classical, easy listning, Celtic, and folk music (old, old stuff like the Limelighters, the Kingston Trio and the Weavers). When I was a child, I had a 78 rpm record of Strauss's TALES FROM THE VIENNA WOODS. I would play it on my record player, close my eys, lie on my bed and dream up all sorts of tales in my mind.

Old romantic movies are good inspiration as well as some books. On occassion, I've even dreamed a good story while asleep. One of the best sources of fresh plots for me are long car trips through the Rockie Mountains. Somehow sitting in the car looking out at the beautiful scenery helps me to plot out novels. I've come up with some of my best on such car trips.

I am so thrilled about Jen, Hayden, and Goodweed. This Notebook is on a roll. Hopefully the good news will continue pouring in.


Thank you so much for this site and the inspiration it has brought to me these many months. My prayers are with you.

Happy writing, everyone.


Colleen Wed Jul 1 19:11:49 PDT 1998

OK guys-I found an international site-called "Matilda" but it doesn't dance. A few more clues....please....I can't quite till I know the answer....
1. Is it a real person?
2. Is it an animal?
3. Is this for real?
Bye for now, I have to do less surfing and more writing....
Take care,

Goodweed of the North Wed Jul 1 18:01:10 PDT 1998

Thanks everyone, but I'm not there yet. I'm offering counter proposals to this agent. Most of the contract looks good, and they appear above board and eager. My only thing is that they want expenses for long-distance phone calls, copying fees, etc. payed on a monthly basis. They do send and itemized bill for inspection so I believe they are above board. I just don't have $150 to $200 a month to spend. I know that other agencies take these fees out of advancements or royalties. I have proposed to them that they do the same. If they can't, if they don't have sufficient overhead, I will have to look elsewhere. They are, after all, my first contact. I have a whole book full of other agents and have done my homework.

Jack, not knowing (and respecting your wish to not go public) I will only say that you have strength and are a great hearted man. Your postings speak well for you. You will come out of whatever trials lay before you, and stronger because of them. It is by trials that we learn.

Colleen, you can find Matilda. You just have to ask the right questions in the right places (certain web browsers come to mind). Believe me. You will be richer for the quest.

Everyone else; I love the postings here.
Phillip, thank you.
Hayden, thank you.
Carol, thank you.

Gotta go see the Canadian Independance Day fireworks. Great to be in a border town. We can see the Canadian Sault fire works across the river.

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North

Philip Wed Jul 1 16:19:56 PDT 1998

HAYDEN: Well done!

GOODWEED: Congratulations!

Two more from our group take another step up ... this is great to see, after the struggle comes success.


Jen Wed Jul 1 10:45:59 PDT 1998

Godweed: Congrats to you as well! This is all so exciting!

Jack: Sorry to hear your down too. I hope things improve.

Brenda: Rest assured you are not alone. It has been a challange writing with a 3 and 5 year old running around. I was ecstatic when my oldest started kindergarten, 3 hours every morning with only one child! It seemed like such a gift! My husband's been great too, he takes the kids out of the house every weekend for several hours. Plus, getting up at 4:30am has helped--I get a few hours of writing with no interruptions.

On the topic, other books inspire me, so I read a lot, but my biggest source of inspiration is my research. I read history books for enjoyment, they always give me so many ideas and I love history. I never write without my Braveheart CD playing. The movers in Turkey stole it, so I need to buy a new one and I found that it's been distracting to try writing without it playing softly in the background.


Brenda Wed Jul 1 10:40:27 PDT 1998


Another cliche, but one that is true: Just remember, when one door closes, another opens.

By the way, I loved the image you posted here. Had my imagination scambling...thanks.



p.s. - Goodweed, great going. I hope to be in the market for an agent soon, so perhaps you can share some of your 'war stories' in that department?

S.N.Arly Wed Jul 1 09:32:11 PDT 1998

Goodweed- Hearty congrats to you! I wish you the best of luck, and hope all goes well. Let us know when we can expect to see it in print, and what title we can find it under. I'll support my feloow writers.

Jack - Sorry you're down. Take care of yourself, do what you need to. We'll be here if/when you should need us.

Barb G. Wed Jul 1 09:11:18 PDT 1998

Jack: You can meet Matilda at the billibong. Come alone. Be ready to waltz...

Colleen Wed Jul 1 08:50:13 PDT 1998

First, I am glad to be in such good company. I have several manuscripts out right now and hope that some of your good luck rubs off on me. On the 19th I have to help give a writer's workshop in Kalamazoo, MI (for children's writers) and I am a nervous wreck about it. But I know it will be ok in the end.
Second, What a relief to see that there are other mom's out there trying to keep dreams alive in the midst of laundry, children and domestic "bliss". Sometimes I feel resentful that I can't just have it "all" easily. Although, at times, my life is my can't win.
Third-Jack I am sorry that you are down. I have been there too, and as my Grandma used to tell me, "This too shall pass", and it does, hang in there. You have a wonderful accomplishment in this web site. You have brought me a source of daily inspiration, support and joy. It is so good to know that there are others out there in the world that have good hearts and kind souls. It can be such an angry, unfair world at times and this site is proof that there are good people everywhere.(Even if they won't tell you who "Matilda" is). Hang in there and find someplace to go, like you did when you were driving around your beautiful city, with the Titanic music playing, and remember there is still so much good and beauty to come.
Fourth-Brenda, Thank you so much for sharing your "Matilda"experience with me, I think we need a "Missing Matilda" support group. Come on Hayden, fill me in.....please......:-} Goodweed or Gary? You can't keep a lady wondering.....
Take care all, life goes on....Colleen

Lydia Sweet Wed Jul 1 06:38:54 PDT 1998


Goodweed, WOW! Congratulations are flying all over the Notebook these days. Three of our cohorts in less than 2 weeks Gee, guys, I'm starting to get an inferiority complex. But at least I'm rubbing elbows with future celebrities.

Again, congratulations and best wishes Goodweed. And another congratulations to Jen and Hayden as well.

Well I have 5 days off coming up and with the pressure our fellow writers are giving us I think I will dedicate my time to writing. All I have to do is figure out how to get rid of the kids and hubby and forget about the housework and projects that need finished.

I'm juggling as fast as I can.

Well I had better go before I drop it all.



Jack Beslanwitch Tue Jun 30 23:09:37 PDT 1998

Hi Everyone:
    Something personal happened that has me moderately depressed. Nothing I want to talk to in public. However, in reference to Hayden's success in terms of a contract I have only one thing to say and that is Congratulation!!! My good wishes I are sent your way for a successful writing career.


Brenda Tue Jun 30 19:38:12 PDT 1998


Between my own insomnia and my two-year-old's cold, I'm seriously sleep deprived at the moment - hope it doesn't show toooo much...

Hayden - My sincere congrats & best wishes!

Jen - Again, congratulations to you as well. And belated though it may be, I wanted to let you know that your message was an inspiration to me. Thank you. I also left my day job to write full-time (well...when I'm not chasing after my toddler), and I think I too, put extra pressure on myself, because I sometimes feel I should be doing 'real' work. I get a sense of hope knowing that your perserverence paid off. Okay, okay, enough already. :>)

Colleen - I came up with about the same results you did on Matilda. Do you think they'll give it up anytime soon?

Oh, yeah...the topic...Reading is probably my primary source of inspiration. Nothing makes me want to hit the keyboard as much as a really good book or story. But ideas? They seem to just pop up outta nowhere. Sometimes the first line or two of a story will just pop into my head. I'll go write it down, and see if anything follows. Half the time I only get a paragraph or two, other times a decent story will materialize. (And I do hate when I don't write it down and it just slips off into the cosmos never to be seen or heard from again).

Oh, boy. I'm ramblin'. Okay, I'm outta here.


Barb G. Tue Jun 30 15:45:07 PDT 1998

Hi Y'all,

I won't send two messages this time (how did that happen?)

Hayden: I did fifty cartwheels for you and will expect the same when my book sells!! God, I am so proud. I already feel I know you and share your excitement.

Goodweed: Way to go, big guy! But, I need to rest after all those calesthenics for Hayden. So give me some time...

I have a big manila envelope tacked to my bullitin board over my desk that holds my ideas. I've written them on envelopes, napkins, Sight Savers, you name it. The envelope is bursting. Some day I'll take a picture and show you guys.

Immediately write down an idea or it will be gone forever -- never to return, believe me. This is the most I've ever written. Just gabby today.


Goodweed of the North Tue Jun 30 15:22:07 PDT 1998

My new is not as good as Hayden's, but it is a step in the right direction. Bawn Publishing agency is offering to represent my work. Needless to say, I'm excited. Now I just need to find someone to read over the author/agent agreement/contract with me so I can get the ball rolling.

Hayden; If I didn't say it before, congrats mate. I may indeed race you to that million yet. Heh heh heh.



Colleen Tue Jun 30 13:26:12 PDT 1998

Hayden-Awesome! It has to be thrilling to get that first contract. This is a major achievement. I would also like to know when it will come out so I can get a copy. Very inspiring!
Matilda....waltzing, dancing,folk music, a website for an old, british monarch, a kangaroo and a children's far my poor , belabored mind can not come up with an answer. It must be my prolonged experience with young humans under the age of 5.....I love teaching and parenting, but it does stretch one's mental capacities.
Goodweed-if you would be so kind?
I will be there celebrating in spirit with you Hayden! Congratulations!

Jen Tue Jun 30 08:03:51 PDT 1998

Congrats! How exciting! Keep us posted!

S.N.Arly Tue Jun 30 06:44:44 PDT 1998

Hayden -

Allow me to also congratulate you on the book contract. YEA! I could put my pups in little cheerleader outfits and have them bounce around to cheer you on, but since you couldn't see it anyway, the image would be wasted on me.

The contract'll probably be more useful than the prize would have been anyway. And what with all the accolades you'll recive on the finished product, where would you have kept this award eh?

Please keep us informed on how it's going. I like to hear about and celebrate others' success. And again I wish you my fondest congrats and hope all goes well.

lydia sweet Tue Jun 30 06:36:43 PDT 1998


CONGRATULATIONS! Ok, so it wasn't the award you hoped for but it is indeed an award for the hard work and perseverance (not to mention great writing) you adhered to.

Let us know where and when, and what name, to look for when it is published.

I can NOT listen to good music when trying to write. I think I enjoy the music too much and interact with it instead of getting inspiration. I will let the local Top 10 Station play because I can tune it out to background noise. Movies could be effective because I tend to play with the characters and time period of a good movie. (Don't they say fantasizing is healthy?) I think reading has been the greatest source of inspiration. Not that a book has inspired any certain story or character, but rather that it gets my mind to imagining my own fairy tales.

Happy writing all.


Michele Tue Jun 30 06:09:10 PDT 1998


That sure is a shame about that prize but really good news about the contract - me next ! (I wish !!)

I'm waiting on news of a long term temporary job at present - I have to go charm an accountant into believing I can create a database for an export/import company - the things we writers have to do to live !! I also received a boost at the weekend, in that I found a real live Sassoon scholar who's offered to help in any which way he can with my research - now that's what I call generosity !! (And he's a busy college professor too !) The research continues apace although if I'm temping on a full time basis it'll have to be crammed into weekends again - sigh !

Oh well catch you guys (and girls - don't go PC on me !) again.


Hayden Mon Jun 29 23:32:03 PDT 1998

In case I forget to screw my head back on, that last posting was from me.
Hayden Hayden Mon Jun 29 23:31:06 PDT 1998

I did NOT win the prize, but I did get a book contract out of it, and that is more than enough to make me smile, smile, smile!!!

Also, I will be flying to Glasgow on the 28th July if anyone wants to meet me there, and celebrate in style.

Gary, do you think Goodweed has REALLY found it, or do you think he is delusional ;-) If you have Goodweed, then we just might have to gag you. Tell me what colour it is, and I will tell you whether you are right or wrong.

All other well wishers: I hope you will celebrate with me in some other fashion. Jack, thank you once again, and I really like the image you have posted to this page. What did you draw it with?

S.N.Arly Mon Jun 29 20:47:08 PDT 1998

No. You're not picky. I do the same thing and I think it makes perfect sense. The publishers who have the decency and respect to return something in a swift manner are the ones I prefer to work with as well. As a result they get to see my stuff first.

I can't listen to music and write. Can't do it. I actually tend to tune out everything except what I'm working on, or the scene I'm watching, people I'm watching, whatever (and no I'm not a voyer) while I work. Music is a distraction. Although I might have it on when I'm editing. Then too it tends to be instrumental, likely classical. If there's words I'll sing alon and that is not condusive to writing. In my den anyhow.

Toby Buckell Mon Jun 29 18:39:11 PDT 1998

S.N Arly:

The average response time is that, average, I agree. I use it and my own chart of response times that I use to track my own stories to figure out when a story is overdue. So far it has served me very well, and the magazines that fall way out of my figurings are pushed down on my list of 'where to send stories'. It sounds picky, but if there if one thing I value it is predictability. I find that my favored markets and the ones that I really like and want to see my stuff in are the ones that fall best within my estimates, it has taken three years and loads of stories to get to this point. (Sorry I rambled on).

As far as music. Yeah. I love it. You usually don't see me jwriting without headphones on. I don't think it is the music itself, but that feeling of disassociating myself from the world around me. It's a mental ritual I run through.

I try to shoot for instrumental stuff, I like anything bombastically classical (Ring of the Nibulings?), some New Age like Enya, but the absolute best for writing are computer game disks, I stick them into the player and play the music tracks. Like Jack I tend to get pumped into moods, I listen to bleak music when I need that essence, and so on.

But some people can't stand to listen to music and work, so I guess it's whatever works...

Jack Beslanwitch Mon Jun 29 18:00:56 PDT 1998

Another source of fertile ground that I find useful is watching genre movies. If in the mood to do a gritty cyberpunk piece I would probably watch a bogart movie such as the Maltese Falcon or Bladerunner or what have you and just drink in the ambience. The first time I watched Platoon had a profound effect on me. Being a Vietnam Era veteran that scated by narrowly from ever having to go to Nam, I found myself writing down a great deal for a while after. Eventually tore it all up, but still I wrote.

Goodweed of the North Mon Jun 29 17:23:23 PDT 1998

I found Matilda!!! Heh heh heh

Seeeeya; Goodweed of the North

Barb G. Mon Jun 29 15:52:54 PDT 1998

Hi Y'all,

I find that my best ideas come from my reading. I read on the average of two - three novels a month plus one non-fiction. I order five to six Literary Journals a month and go through them pretty quickly.

During my reading, a phrase or a character tic or the use of a very interesting analogy piques my interest. I would say my better work comes from that type of inspiration. In the Journals I may read a story that could have been told differently -- not always better per say, but differently. I keep a small notebook by my reading books and jot notes as I go.

Another well of inspiration is listening to other people talking. (No! I'm not a snoop.) But, sometimes a tiny little kernel of dialogue can spark a story.


Barb G. Mon Jun 29 15:51:04 PDT 1998

Hi Y'all,

I find that my best ideas come from my reading. I read on the average of two - three novels a month plus one non-fiction. I order five to six Literary Journals a month and go through them pretty quickly.

During my readomg, a phrase or a character tic or the use of a very interesting analogy piques my interest. I would say my better work comes from that type of inspiration. In the Journals I may read a story that could have been told differently -- not always better per say, but differently. I keep a small notebook by my reading books and jot notes as I go.

Another well of inspiration is listening to other people talking. (No! I'm not a snoop.) But, sometimes a tiny little kernel of dialogue can spark a story.


S.N.Arly Mon Jun 29 13:58:39 PDT 1998

Toby - On those response times, average is just that. Average. I usually double the average response time before I give up and assume it's been lost in the mail or under someone's desk. And in the end I think I've only ever had two.. maybe three pieces that never received a response.

Media and creativity. huh. I'm not really sure where my ideas come from (and if I did know I don't think I'd want to know). Sometimes I'll get a story idea from a word, a tune, a mental still frame of something I'm actually seeing, dreams, or from a scene in a TV show or movie. I admit the TV and movie stuff usually puts the creative part of my brain to sleep.

I have a novella (like Stephen King, I hate the word novelette. Just sounds too cute for me), the first one I ever wrote, and the first real good shorter piece I wrote, called Desperado. Gee anyone got any ideas where that came from? It has nothing to do with the song, but that's where it came from. I was riding home from karate one night and during the opening chords I got this great idea. Thankfully it wasn't a novel length idea because I'm usually quite frantic in trying to write down all the salient details before they fade, and the car is not a good place to do this.

Anyway, I guess media isn't exactly my primary source of inspiration. People watching, on the other hand...

Warden of the Northen Keep Mon Jun 29 13:36:07 PDT 1998

I can see music giving you a story, but I have only had inspiration come by sight. I wrote a horror novel when I woke in the early morning hours and saw a blood red splinter of a moon rising in the dark mist filled sky. I am writing another story after I had a bald eagle watched me mow the lawn. I have a mystery novel based on tarot cards...

I will say that I do listen to music to put me in the mood to write different passages--Rachmaninov for love or pain--Holst for fighting or war--jazz--blues--rock--etc. Nothing works better than bagpipes if you are writing a section where you want the hair to stand up on the back of your neck.

I have to leave my taskmaster has come home.

Gary S Mon Jun 29 12:40:41 PDT 1998


Welcome home. And Bravo!! Let me know when you have a Book Signing in my neighborhood.

It doesn't work that way for me. Music moves me to make music, for which my talent is modest at best. I don't know what makes me write. I can get very excited in the pursuit of a story, but music and writing just seem to be seperate things. Jack, I used to be involved in putting on musicals, and I promoted the goal of 'creating excitement' within the audience. By my standards, you have seen some successful performances.

Hayden, quite so. Dancing.

Colleen, personally I don't know of the book you mention, titled, "Matilda."


Toby Buckell Mon Jun 29 12:14:03 PDT 1998


I'm so pumped for the Jazz fest. Definitely will see you there :)

Jen Mon Jun 29 06:40:10 PDT 1998

On the old topic, I'd like to say that the more rejections you recieve the thicker your skin becomes. Since I seperated from the Air Force two years ago to write full time, I've recieved probably around 100 rejections. The first 8 months I tried writing articles and found it wasn't my thing, but got a lot of experience writing query letters (bad query letters) and recieving indifferent rejections. Since I finished my first book and started trying to sell it, I've recieved at least 40 or so on it. But for me, I almost always wallow in self-pity, crying that I'm nothing more than a hack when I recieve a rejection. I do that for about 5 minutes. Then I try to figure out what I did wrong. Fix it and start over. I think it's blind determination. I found that after a rejection, I actually work harder. For me it's frightening. I refused to believe that I threw away a nice income, plunging my family into poverty, to fail. And so, I refused to accept it. I don't know that everyone can do that, I know they can't quit their day jobs like I did, but for me that was the commitment, I had to prove to myself that we eat hamburger helper for a worthy cause!
If I had a day job, I wouldn't quit it yet since my advance is nothing spectacular, but I have to look at it as the beginning.

Brenda, I know you've gotten lots of answers about your instructor, but I think the teachers a jerk. Those kind of comments aren't necessary. When I finished my first book, I let several people close to me read it. It was the first draft and very rough, but I wanted opinions. Most every had lots of constructive critism, good and bad things to say, all told tactfully, one of these persons though, riddled my manuscript, in red pen, with sarcastic remarks, making fun of my writing. I want to be an understanding person, to be above becoming nasty in the face of it, I really do, but I was angry and resentful, even though many of her comments were right on the mark, the sarcasm at my expense was unnecessary. It made me imagine her sitting around with her husband making fun of it as she read. I don't think that's necessary or productive and I wouldn't take it.


Jen Mon Jun 29 05:44:20 PDT 1998

I'm in America!!!! We barely made it since we were caught in the earthquake (we were about a dozen miles from the epicenter!) But thankfully the flight line was undamaged and they allowed our plane to land. Thank you for all the congrats and the e-mails too! It was great seeing it all! As for the questions that were asked of me, the publisher is HaperCollin's, the book is the first one I wrote, a historical time-travel romance (I don't think the title I have on it now is going to be the one it ends up with) and I was sleeping when I got the phone call. I'm working on my fourth book right now and I have another one that is finished that two publishers are reading right now, plus I think I'm going to try to get an agent again, hopefully with better results.

Lydia, if you sent to e-mail to my escortnet address that's why I didn't get it, that one was closed several weeks ago. The one I'm using until I'm offically on-line is my hotmail account.

Congats to you as well on your award, though I can't seem to find the original message where you told us about it!

Well, it's good to be back. I have no idea what the topic is, but I'm going to try and catch up this morning!


Hayden Mon Jun 29 03:43:23 PDT 1998

Sorry Goodweed, and all you others who are being hoodwink by the red herring, Matilda is not what you think she is. The Aussie connection just doesn't cut it, because neither of us are Australian. Oh, she is a she all right, but whether she has the ability to do a waltz in the classical sense of "dancing" is open to question. Good Gary and I know what she does when she is moving, but a little research into what dances will take you a long way...hint hint.

Jack Beslanwitch Sun Jun 28 22:36:57 PDT 1998

Thought I would add a new topic for your possible interest:

      In the category of what makes you want to hit your word processor and have to write, I would like to make a suggestion that we discuss the music, the movies and any other medium other than words on paper that have inspired us to write. This is not the music that we play as we write to just get us in the mood, but something that inspires our thoughts in another setting so powerfully that as soon as we get home we had to sit down and start communicating our feelings and thoughts and words. An example that comes to my mind is the first time I saw the traveling Broadway musical Phantom of the Opera here in Seattle. Something along the same lines took place when I saw Jesus Christ Superstar with the original actors done here with new theatrical special effects. However, though I use the example of musical theatre, it could be anything from opera to a Society of Creative Anacronisms tournament to anything else. As always, if any other possible topics come to mind, jump in as well.

Also, as some of you are aware, I occasionally throw out my artistic experiments on occasion here. The following is for your possible viewing pleasure and it possibly intrigues me as something to do storywise, but I am not sure what. Click on it if you would like to see the larger picture. Bon appetit.

Goodweed of the North Sun Jun 28 22:30:50 PDT 1998

Colleen: Emerson is one of my heroes, along with Leonardo and the other great renaiscance artists (except Michaelangelo. He was too full of himself). That was an outstanding quote. Thank you for sharing it.

I'm surprized at you. You are an intelligent, hard working woman. You have the resources of the internet at your fingertips. You can find Matilda and watch her waltz to your hearts delight. Remember, anything worth having is worth working for. Heh heh heh :-)

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North

Gary S Sun Jun 28 22:08:32 PDT 1998


Goodweed is giving away hints about Matilda; what do you think we should do? I suggest we let it take its course.


That quote was a sweet sentiment, my dear, but I believe if Emerson wrote it today, his editor would tell him to try knocking off about thirty words, or so.


I see you're only an hours drive away for the summer--in the land of the living. See you at the Jazz Festival.


Tell me if you heard this one before. I queried an audio tape publisher who is looking for novelettes, a good length
for audio tape, I guess.

He wrote back for the manuscript, which I sent. Next, he writes back and tells me how much he liked the story and he is saving the script for possible future publication. In his reply, he proved that he did, in fact, read the manuscript. Have any of you ever been told that you've been "shelved." He offers one time rights on publication, in case that is any implication.



Colleen Sun Jun 28 20:15:37 PDT 1998

OK, Goodweed, I can't stand it any longer.....if you find out about Matilda....well, please....fill me in.
There is a book called "Matilda" by Roald Dahl and a movie too. Am I getting closer? I'll be checking in again soon to see if there is any progress in this area.....
bye for now....

Goodweed of the North Sun Jun 28 19:45:55 PDT 1998

Hayden; Whether you get the prize or not, you're a top-notch writer. We may have different writing standards as to what is and isn't appropiate, but I still loved the offbeat piece you put in the workbook so many months ago. By the way, if I remember corectly about the famous Matilda, isn't Matilda a metaphor? I'll leave it at that so as not to give anything away. I heard the story once, long ago in Perth. It was too long ago I'm afraid. Any of you Aussies out there, this Yank would like a refresher.

Brenda, I woudn't worry about that Prof. You know what they say, "Those who can't do, teach". I know it's a cliche, but as was said by others, a teacher haas a responsibility to teach and build their students.

Phillip, glad to hear your so busy. It's exciting to hear that your wife also is taking the literary plunge.

As for spell-checkers, I rarely missed a spelling word all through grade school, or high-school. When I think about words, I can still usually get them right. I am not a perfect typist however and am prone to frequent typos. Also, when I am composing a story, the spell-checker frees me to be creative. I can get the rough draft down and clean everything up with the rewrites. Though the spell-checker is not perfect, it is substantially quicker than me. What it doesn't find, either I or one of my family, or freinds will in one of the rewrites.

Kitty: Good to see you on the notebook.

S.N.Arly; you have become a force for good at this site.

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North

Loren Berg Sun Jun 28 18:39:09 PDT 1998


I got your message this morning, and sent a prompt reply. Unfortunately, the message does not seem to be accepted at the address given. Try to contact me again please. I love to swap thoughts when I get the chance, and I want to say "Thanks" for the encouragement.

I will try your e-mail address again in a moment. One way or another we shall connect.

BarbG Sun Jun 28 16:15:13 PDT 1998

Hi Y'all,

Charlotte: I LOVE your friend's idea. I'll do it! This Matilda-thing is growning you guys. What gives?


Toby Buckell Sun Jun 28 15:26:41 PDT 1998

Writer: that insular being with such a thick skin...

I remember Harlan Ellison's famous advice on being a writer, 'Quit. Because if you have what it takes you're going to ignore me and go ahead anyway'. While it is a bit harsh it does seem to come into play quite a bit, if I am not mistaken this is not the first time I've seen this very same subject pop up in the notebook.

As for response times,yeah, I've got nine stories out and they are all three weeks overdue according to the averages I have from (the black hole/pit, I think that was the name of the site I got, from SFWA, does anyone know what I'm talking about?) so I am starting to wonder a bit.

Aside from that, I've been enjoying watching the world cup games on ABC, (well not the US ones, that team has problems), and I even went to a New England Revolution game last night which was very good. Can you say Toby loves soccer? And as usual, banging away at the keyboard.

PS- spellcheckers rule, but I've disabled mine. I find that I tend to rely on them too much, and that it is much better (this is only for me, to each their own) to check everything myself. I tend to find a lot of spellcheck mistackes if I don't do this anyway...

Have fun writing...

Brenda Sun Jun 28 13:35:19 PDT 1998

S.N. Arly - love the handle! Thanks for the info on response times. (I did check, though, and the magazines I sent my stories to claim relatively short response times).

Hayden - Hang in there. I'm ready to go at my nails for you - but I gave that up a long time ago.

David - Yes, perhaps he did think he was doing me or the writing community a favor. I couldn't tell ya.

As far as me being driven out of writing...I guess you didn't read all of my message. Like Barb said, "Warts and all, we'll take whatever comes."

On spell checkers: You know, I was working on a story last night, and I opened up the damn spell check program and I must've spent the better part of an hour trying to invoke the command that would cause the program to write the story for me! Boy, I'll tell ya! Some of these computer programs (and programmer!) are seriously lacking! :>)

Seriously, though, I love the freedom that technology brings to my writing. I don't have to worry when I'm on a roll about typos, and if there is a word I am unsure about I can use the tools I have at my fingertips.

S.N.Arly Sun Jun 28 13:29:25 PDT 1998

What? You mean there's not a Write Novel function in my spell checker? Man, am I screwed. Just bought a new laptop to do all the tough stuff for me and now I find out these are merely tools?


Davidson Corry Sun Jun 28 11:11:58 PDT 1998

Brenda --

Your instructor may have thought he was doing you, or the writing community, or both, a favor. And he(?) might be right -- if you are the sort of person who *can* be driven out of the craft by being rejected, insulted or ignored, you're not going to have much fun doing it.

(Not that this justifies his being rude. But take comfort in karma: he has to spend the rest of his life around somebody like that. *You* can go home.)

As to spell-checkers, there's a kernel of truth in the warning. They're tools, nothing more. They can help you do the job but can't do it for you. If he's really anti-technology, ask him if he uses a typewriter. Or if he's really serious about it, see if he knows why the thing is called a "pen knife". [grin]

Colleen Sun Jun 28 07:34:42 PDT 1998

Leave me wondering fellows. It gives a sense of mystery and excitement to my ordinary days. Perhaps she will become a character in a story for me, untold, she may become whatever I decide. Hayden and Gary, you have again made me smile, for what it is worth,it was much needed. Here is the quote I promised, I love this and I think that the way we all experience the human condition and do what we can to improve it, even if it is bringing joy to someone far away, is intrinsic to our art. This quote is from Ralph Waldo Emerson:"To laugh often and much. To win the respect of intelligent people, and the affection of children. To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty. To find the best in others. To leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition. To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." Thanks for the smile.

Hayden Sun Jun 28 05:09:42 PDT 1998

Gary...tell Colleen about Matilda, and the world will turn upon its axis as it has done for times untold; tell her of our own bold jest, and she shall see the sun rise as it has risen for ages immeasurable; tell her, and like Lear's madness, we will call out the horse in each our hearts. What care you, good man? Care you tell her? Care you spare not the trash or pearls we hide between us?

Oh, you mean should we let her know. Sorry about that little wander in the mind that brought out from my bossom this dispatch and charged duty. Shall we whisper, or rant at full volume, or talk as gentlemen who gather by the bar and share drinks like old friends...

To bed. I think this malady has gripped my fingers, and the fire has touched my mind with winter's chilled eyes. I go.

Gary S Sat Jun 27 23:45:35 PDT 1998


Do you think we should tell Colleen about Matilda?


Boyd Gunn Sat Jun 27 16:42:33 PDT 1998

Bonjournee Tous!
Just a wee note to say hi & let you know I'm still reading the site, postin' the queries & tappin' the keys,

Colleen Sat Jun 27 13:53:27 PDT 1998

Hi everyone,
I found the comment about the writing class very discouraging. I find that I have been steering clear of them just for that reason. Sometimes it only takes one unkind comment to destroy or block another person's creative strength. I am sorry Brenda, that your prof. doesn't know better. Sometimes it is their own insecurity showing through. Find others who love writing and literature and get with them for support and encouragement. This may help. Sometimes you do run into wonderful teachers who see the beauty in their students and want to nuture their talents. I have experienced both sides of the coin.
Hayden and Gary.....Hmmmmm....Matilda?????
Take care everyone. We've been without power since Thursday and I'm itching to write.
Oh yes, I have a neat quote from Emerson-I want to share it with my friends here, but I wasn't sure if I could post it. If it is Ok please let me know.

S.N.Arly Sat Jun 27 06:43:40 PDT 1998

I save all my rejection letters in a file, ostensibly so that someday when I'm rich and famous I can look back and laaaaaugh. Aah, delusions of grandeur. But "if you're going to have delusions, you may as well go for the really satisfying ones."

We'll send a little positive karma your way. We've got our fingers, and toes, crossed for you. I'll even cross my pup's toes if you think it'd help.

Keep in mind that even if you don't recieve this prize you got that much closer and you must be pretty darn good. If you did it once I'm sure you can do it again, and the next time it'll be better(not to deman this time in any way).

Hope you hear soon, and hope it's positive. We're all waiting for an excuse to party and this would be a grand one.

Sara -
I write SF & F and always thought I was well-balanced. Quit making me paranoid.... oooh that gives me a good idea for a story.

Hayden Fri Jun 26 17:23:31 PDT 1998

Hi gang.

Rejection letters...part two
here's a slightly different twist to it...

By now all of you will know that I have been shortlisted for this wonderful literary prize, The George Turner Prize for Science Fiction and Fantasy, which should have been announced a few weeks ago. (I harp on about it a bit don't I?) I am only one of the finalists, so, like the other eight writers, I am chewing my fingernails to the bone and sitting next to the telephone, waiting for the damn thing to ring and the world to pour in down the line with the balloons and party hats and all the money and that sort of thing. But the damn phone is stubbornly quiet...except for those idiotic friends who ring to find out whether I have won the damn thing yet. The longer it goes on the more certain I am that I have not won the prize, which, to be honest, will not worry me too much as long as I can market the shortlisting for all it is worth. I still get the acclaim, I still get a kiss on my cheek from Jo, and maybe even a pat on the back from those companion writers who aren't carrying a knife to imbed there. BUT, what is worrying is the feeling that after all my leaping around at the computer bashing away the keys, after the frantic moments at the printer when it jammed on page 512 and spat ink down my front in vengeance for getting it to work so hard, after all the lost moments of dreaming of what my next car would look like (yes, the Porsche is still taking shape, soon to be revealed), I will still be rejected as not worthy of the grand prize. And I have become so focused on this one event that I am so certain that life has no other moment of esctacy, no rich sunrise to bathe in, no bubble in the champagne to tickle my nose. This is the moment when chaos reigns in my mind. I expect, at any moment, the glum bestman to take the bride from me.

But the reality is that for all the rejections I have recieved, the storm of emotional venting that will follow the "rejection letter" from this prize, is only me standing on the shoulders of a giant and wondering if I will ever be big enough to touch the stars.

Hell, won't this damn phone ever ring?
Time for another coffee.

Philip: sorry to hear your wife was rejected by Transworld, but I am sure she has the ability to write with the same power and passion as you do. Just give her a short while and she'll be up there with the rest. Just ask her if we can get her autograph some time, OK

Gary: Matilda sends her best :-)

Lydia. I can hear the tune of your trumpet half way around the world.

Charlotte Kremer Fri Jun 26 14:42:21 PDT 1998

Hi all. Just a few comments about rejection letters. Some of my friends keep their latest one posted on a bulletin board, sort of like an award that they are working and getting their work out there. I usually just laugh at the form rejections and cherish all of the personally written ones. If you want to be a writer you have to let all the nasty critiques and rejections just roll off. Fri Jun 26 14:06:48 PDT 1998

I know, if my head wasn't screwed on....

I am also looking for a writer's conference in the Mid-South area. I'm too poor to travel very far or stay overnight for more than a night, so Memphis would be ideal. Little Rock, Ar. is ok or Jackson, MS or maybe Nashville, TN. If you know of any conferences coming up this fall in any of these areas, please let me know.

Thank you for your attention...

Lydia Fri Jun 26 14:01:31 PDT 1998

I knew there was something else I wanted to say. A question for those of you in Writer's Groups. I am looking for a group in my local area and haven't had any luck locating them. They are not listed on the internet. Any suggestions how I might hook up with them. I know they are out there, I just don't know where to look. Thanks for any help.

Lydia Sweet

lydiasweet Fri Jun 26 13:56:41 PDT 1998

Hey Bren,

My first and only writing class after high school was freshman English in college. That was some ten years after H.S. graduation. I was terrified. I started the class with some 25 students ranging in age from 18 to 65. By the end of the class there were only 10 of us left. It was a night class taught by a doctorial student or undergrad, I'm not sure. He made a statement to me at one time (because I was always instigating debates about writers)that what I thought about the subject was OK, but when it came to test he wanted the answer to reflect his opinion. Point: You are entitled to your opion and thoughts you just have to show that you have heard his thoughts as well. I don't agree with your instructor's techniques, he doesn't seem to have developed any actually, but I do think you can learn something even from a jerk. Stick with the class and share with the other students. You may find a wealth of information simply by networking with them. Good Luck

P.S. How tough was my teacher? Only 3 students passed that class. Yes, I was one of the three.(Blowing my own horn).


Sara Townsend chris.sara@btinternet Fri Jun 26 13:56:12 PDT 1998

I've not visited for a while, but have been reading this week's postings with interest. Rejection slips - I've not met a writer who doesn't get them (except for those who don't send anything out, of course). We all get them, and we all get depressed about them. It is important to remember that many times that whether or not the editor likes your story is personal opinion - one editor might love the same story that another hates.

I think getting depressed and discouraged is part of the creative process. There is a theory that all writers are mad; the idea is, I believe, that the urge to write is a manifestation of the writer coming to terms with his or her personal neuroses. I was discussing this with other members of my writing group recently, and although the idea sounds bizarre, I believe there might be something in it. Maybe it is the kind of people I am mixing with, but I have never met a writer who could honestly claim to be completely well-balanced and emotionally mature. Most of us seem to be harbouring insecurities of one sort or another. You can also find many examples of famous literary figures who had psychological problems of one sort or another (from discussions Tolstoy could be a prime example!). One of the best things about belonging to my writing group is that whenever one of us starts wallowing in self-pity and misery, we can seek reassurance from the others, who understand how we are feeling!

Depression is a strong emotion, and it can be used to a writer's advantage if you focus on that emotion. Many of my stories feature a desolation that I have harnessed from experience. So - I am interested in other people's opinions on this. Can anyone else relate, or are you all completely well-balanced people?! I should add that many of the writers in my writing group are horror and dark fantasy writers - perhaps it is just we writers of such dark genres that are emotionally imbalanced!!

Barb Garrett Fri Jun 26 11:12:08 PDT 1998

Hi Y'all,
S.N. and G.S.: I'm happy for you both, but --

It is so interesting to see that we writers, no matter where we stand as to publishing credits, wouldn't give it up for anything. Warts and all, we'll take whatever comes.

Brenda: You go girl! Give 'em hell in class.

Hayden: The same as above with a gender change.


S.N.Arly Fri Jun 26 06:49:04 PDT 1998

You may already know this, but in case you don't... It can take an eternity to get responses even for short works. Some publishers/magazines/what have you are better than others in response time, but quite often you can expect a month long wait.

Many places will list their response time with their submission guidelines. OFten it will appear as 12/35/89. The first number is the shortest response time, the middle is just that, and the last number is the longest response time you can expect from that publisher.

Incidentally good luck with the class. It sounds like it may be a rough trip, but hopefully you'll be able to take something from it that was helpful, which is why you're there to begin with.

Brenda Brandon Thu Jun 25 21:36:29 PDT 1998

!!A Gazillion (sp? :>)) Thanks To Everyone!!

Thanks especially, that no one felt the need to point out one obvious fact - that I was whining a bit...

But, being new at this, a sounding board is indispensable. Lots of great advise, and some validation has done wonders for my disposition.

I loved all the Tolstoy comments, and I did remind HIM that Tolstoy didn't have a spell checker/word processor at his disposal, but if he had, I said I thought he'd be nuts not to make use of it.

As to the rest of it...I think I'll stick it out and pick up what I can and leave the rest behind.

As to the REAL topic of rejection letters from editors - I did send a coupla shorts out 'bout two weeks ago, so I expect to be getting some soon. I know someone said that no sane person enjoys getting rejection letters - and I am hoping for the best, expecting the worst - but I'm actually looking forward to ANY response. Seems like it will be concrete evidence of my comitment to get that all that stuff rolling around my brain, down on paper.

Thanks again!


Gary S Thu Jun 25 20:54:23 PDT 1998


It's quite refreshing to note an atheist who publicly declares himself to be one. I am an atheist as well, but I can never seem to gather that kind of courage; it's something I pray that I will someday be able to do. In the meantime I will hold to my beliefs, and continue to thank God that I have resisted a lifetime of Christian influence and superstition.

I salute you, fellow, and encourage you to keep the faith, or don't keep the faith, whatever is right for you.


Are you looking out for that Porsche, mate, or are you too busy waltzing with Matilda.


Philip Thu Jun 25 20:19:33 PDT 1998


Early this year my wife completed her first full-length novel and sent it off to a senior editor at Transworld Publishing. Last week she received her first rejection letter. I will ask her permission tonight to email that letter to those who are interested in having a look at it. It was the best (nicest) rejection letter any beginning writer could possibly receive.

Email me if you'd like a copy.

Back soon - Philip

Gary S Thu Jun 25 20:19:21 PDT 1998


Something you might remind your instructor about is the fact that Tolstoy didn't HAVE a spellcheck or a word processor. He used what writers of his day had at their disposal and your instructor(whose tone I find offensive) has no more idea if Tolstoy would have used one than the man in the moon.

Rejection by editors is a part of the publishing business. Your reaction to an offensive teacher (who is not nearly so rare as you might think) has nothing to do with how you will deal with the rejection that is part of being in the writing business .

Your decision to stay or not to stay in the writing course will be an entirely personal one. People here can only tell you what they see in your instructor on the basis of what you say, which you seem to believe and feel strongly about.

Abusive teaching practices are not acceptable to most people and they do little or nothing to recommend those who use them. Just be aware that you can encounter nasty correspondents in some seemingly unlikely places, like an on-line forum for example. The thing to keep clear about is keeping things seperate that don't belong together.


I have not been to the Australian desert, but I would be very suspicious of anyone who sees crocodiles there. We have salt water crocodiles in the backwaters of the Everglades, almost always females looking for a good nesting spot. I have seen one myself, but when someone sees one in the Arizona desert, we simply accept that the person has been in the desert too long, or he has seen a Gila Monster through a telescope. None-the-less, if your friend enjoys THAT BOOK so much, it apparently works for him/her.

Later, all,

Gary S

Kitty Thu Jun 25 20:10:32 PDT 1998

Brenda-The instructor is a jerk. He/she may be a published author (you didn't give details), but a jerk nonetheless. How helpful to your writing can snide remarks be--especially ones that have little to do with what you write but how you go about putting the words down? You're not in boot camp and you don't want to be a marine, so there is no need to tear you down to build you up again--in his/her image no doubt. Sounds like one very insecure instructor you have there. If you decide to stay, throw some attitude back his way. Tell him Tolstoy had a wife to write out his manuscripts in longhand and that you can only afford a computer. And no, pretention is not a prerequisite to beng a professional writer, pretention is a prerequisite to being a snob.
Philip-Thanks. I knew there were alarm bells clanging in the distance. I'm forwarding your comments to my friend who has just embarked upon a month long sojourn on the Maryland coast with this tome tucked under her arm. She was very taken in by the whole Outback, alternate reality, woman discovering self thing.
Clyde-It is a very useful and entertaining grammar book, indeed.

Thu Jun 25 20:10:26 PDT 1998

Thu Jun 25 20:10:08 PDT 1998

S.N.Arly Thu Jun 25 20:00:47 PDT 1998

Brenda -
Thicker skin wouldprobably be a good thing to develop and I think we've probably all been through a stage where we were more vulnerable and sensitive than we currently are. Well thos of us who've been doing this a while.

However I'd also recommend you take what they say with the proverbial grain of salt. Sift through the crap for the useful stuff that must be there for the program to have such a reputation.

Incidentally Tolstoy died a lonely, miserable (by most accounts) drunken socal moran. Perhaps spell checker could have helped him (then again he could've used some Dilanten and Prozac to go along with it).

Creative writing in college. Been there. Done that. Had a very similar sounding experience. There was also a guy in my dorms freshman year who claimed to be the next Walt Whitman(which he wouldn't have done if he'd really known anything about Walt's real life). Anyway he drank an obcene amount and claimed that he had truly suffered and therefore he was an artist. He'd also seen Barfly once too often.

Pretension is exactly that. A tool for the pretenders who haven't the hutspah or the talent to be real.

Clyde Dixon Thu Jun 25 17:44:17 PDT 1998

Ooops, left the ID off the post.

Kitty, that is on heck of a title for a grammer book.


Rhoda Thu Jun 25 17:42:22 PDT 1998


You probably do need a thicker skin, but welcome to the human race. If you persist in writing, the thicker skin will come.

As to your experience in your writing class, it is reprehensible that your instructer would be saying such snide remarks to you. There is no excuse for that. Not only does it prove counterproductive for your writing, it is just crass, bad manners no matter how many lofty degrees and credentials this instructer has. There is not one criticism anyone can make that cannot be delivered in a polite, respectful, positive manner.

Unless I had no choice in the manner, I wouldn't take that crap from anyone. If you cannot tell the instructer to deliver his remarks in a better way, then you might consider dropping this workshop and getting your money back no matter how great an honor it supposed to be.

Find yourself a good writer's group where people will be truthful and honest with you, but supportive and sensitive at the same time. Also consider that universities might not be the best place to learn how to write. You learn by knowing basic grammer, by reading books by skillful authors, and by forging ahead and just writing. Also writing seminars (taught by people who have a good knowledge of the market place), workshops and writer's conferences are good tools also.

Don't berate yourself. Even when you get a thicker skin, you still have feelings. Having a thicker skin only means you let things brush off of you better. You just shrugg your shoulders and get on with your life and your writing career.

Hope this helps,


P.S. Tolstoy didn't have a word processor either. I bet he'd have used one if it were available, spell checker and all.

Thu Jun 25 17:20:09 PDT 1998

Welcome. That line about spellcheck reminds me of the math teachers I had in high school--spellcheck, like calculators are here to stay. From what I have seen, typesetters could stand a little spell checking, now and then, why not writers?

I have not participated in a workshop, such as you are in now, but in college I did take a creative writing course. The teacher's pet droned on, and on, about all the grand symbolism he had crammed into his stories. I about gagged. When it came my turn, I made no attempt to lay on the BS. I actually wrote my best work, in one sitting, with hardly a thought to how it would end, much less such contrived pretenses. He liked that story, but was quite disappointed at my utter lack of pretense.

To each his own. You are in the workshop for your own benefit--get from it what you can. The experience is your's to exploit.

Some think you should use a typewriter, some paper. Some think that drugs will help them just because some great but tragic writers were self destructive types.

There is no "right way," so start developing your way. I have more humor about such things now than I used too; these days, such comments from a professor would probably have me rolling on the floor.

Enjoy the workshop. That professor isn't going to publish your first book, but you can give him a copy. Can I get in line now for an autograph?


Brenda Brandon Thu Jun 25 13:59:53 PDT 1998

Okay, I have a question for all of you more experienced writers. I haven't had to deal with rejections from editors (yet). I'm just now getting serious about my writing, and I've only sent one manuscript to one place: A UC Berkeley Novel Writing Workshop. They only accept fifteen out of the hundred or so they get, so when I was accepted, I was very excited. But now, in the workshop, I keep getting snide little remarks from the instructer ("Tolstoy didn't use spellcheck", "Well, if you're short on patience, maybe you should give up writing...").

Yeah, I KNOW I'm overly sensitive, but I feel like these things are beginning to effect my writing (and not in a positive way).

So here are my questions: Do I just need to get over myself already? Grow thicker skin and stick with the class to see what I can get out of it? I like to think I'm fairly well educated, but, at heart, I'm really a down to earth kinda gal. I know this may offend some, but is pretention a prerequisite for professional writers? And, (if anyone is still reading...), how have people dealt with circumstances like this? (Stick it out, or quit? (The class, I mean. I have no intention of giving up writing - not yet, anyway.))

anonymous for the moment Thu Jun 25 09:31:30 PDT 1998

Testing to see if this message will actually go through on my wimpy system. If so, will be joining your endeavors soon, I hope...

Philip Thu Jun 25 00:07:14 PDT 1998


Good to see you're back in the Notebook.

Re: your question - "I am wondering if you are familiar with a book title Mutant Message Downunder (I think) by Marlo Morgan?"

Yes... it was Marlo Morgan who wrote THAT BOOK. It was self published as non fiction, as her real-life adventures in Australia. It is full of anomolies and nonsense. She sold zillions of them and HarperCollins gave her over a million bucks to republish it (or so it went). The Aboriginal people here hit the roof about it, they said it was rediculous and insulting. Forget about the so-called LOST TRIBE (no such thing), she didn't even get the geography, flora or fauna even close eg: she saw crocodiles in what is the Australian desert - one of the driest places on earth.

Harpers, a Rupert Murdoch Press, published it as fiction - that speaks volumes for her authenticity (pun intended).

Back soon - Philip

Hayden Wed Jun 24 19:24:43 PDT 1998

Rejection letters? What are those? :-)

No, seriously folks, rejection letters are the little thorns around the rose, and as the Bard once said over his fifth glass of ale, "A rose by any other name would still cut the hell out of your fingers with those bloody little thorns."

I'd hate to count how many times I have been rejected over the last few years, (at least twice at parties, and once or twice in a bar) but it reminds me of when I was young and silly and had a job selling encyclopaedias (which I still can't spell). There was a saying amongs the salesmob that what we did was called "humility training", and it strengthened our resolve to do what we most wanted to do. We were to look ourselves in the eye and ask ourselves, "How much are you really willing to give up to be a salesman (read writer here)? Would we give up our pride, our self-worth, our ideals to make a sale? Or where those things more important than our selling the product?"

Unfortunately we have to see that what we create is also a product, and it has to be sold (which we all know!) so we have to go through some form of humility training.

A simplistic answer is "If the product is worth it, and you can't sell it to one Joe, then don't take no for an answer and just go hunting for the right Joe to sell it to."

Michelle: We were suppose to know two weeks ago, but everything is delayed. And I don't have any fingernails left to chew on.

S.N.Arly Wed Jun 24 14:09:30 PDT 1998

No one in their right mind LIKES getting rejected and sometimes it can be tough to keep perspective. I try not to buid up my expectations when I send out stories or querys, that way I'm less disappointed when I get the old boot to the head. I keep in mind that publishers get so much mail on a daily basis and a rejection letter is not really an evaluation of me as a person or as a writer. It could be that my story isn't what the editor/reader/whomever goes through the slush pile wanted on that particular day and time. Maybe I didn't follow the ridged submission guidelines quite as well as I thought. Sometimes it's because the story needs more work. I try to keep my little insignificant self in perspective to the publishing megopolies. This amuses me a little, and seems to do the trick.

I hate getting more than one rejection letter in a given day. That's the one time it really seems to bug me.

As an athiest I have faith of another kind. I believe that I CAN do whatever I really and truly want to. Sure, the way may not be easy and I may have to get creative to get what I want, I may have to work really hard, but I will eventually get there. I also keep in mind that it is the writing that is important to me, not the publishing.

Keeping busy is one way to get rid of the rejection letter blues, and I find physical activity particularly useful. In my case I go to karate where I can focus my negative energy into something else that usually leaves me too tired to care about a stupid letter.

Colleen Wed Jun 24 11:34:12 PDT 1998

Hello-Glad to see everyone is still here. As to rejections, I do let them get me down to some degree, but there is some kind of spark, down inside, that prods me to write again. When I first scanned the Children's Writer's Market Place book, I found many publishers were not accepting unsolicited or unagented work. This was very discouraging. The market for my work seems to be getting tighter. Some people have suggested that I move to magazines for children. I am just not sure what to do. I can't help but hope for that one published children's book. I think it comes down to learning the craft of writing inside and out and learning how to revise and polish manuscripts. When a manuscript has been rejected more than 4 or five times I make sure I take it to my critique group again, with any editor's comments and have them go over it. This can help. I may also put the manuscript away for some time then go back and look at it with fresh eyes later. Rejections are never easy. I just have to have a plan before they come on how I will deal with them. -Michele-it is good to see you posting again.
Also, I know this sounds weird, but does anyone have any,"didjerido" antedoctes? Thanks for your help.

meyoung Wed Jun 24 10:42:33 PDT 1998

I realize that dealing with rejection is hard--is that why I can't "get around" to sending in that query letter my teacher said to send? I think I'm a reasonably good writer, have been told so by others. So why can't I pull up my socks and put that query in an envelope and mail it?
I write reports monthly of our computer club meeting for our parent chapter's publication--
How did you deal with this, or am I the only one with this problem?

Barb Garrett Wed Jun 24 06:25:58 PDT 1998

Day before yesterday I recevied three (3) rejections. I'm trying hard to balance that with two acceptances in one week in March. And, it's tough. But, it never stops me. Somehow, someway I always pull out of it.

There is absolutely no way in "heck" I'll ever quit. I suppose in my own way I'm telling you to do the same. Even this little note helped...Thanks y'all

Michele Wed Jun 24 06:01:54 PDT 1998

Just a coupla lines to say

Congratulations to Jen !
A nice coming home present from the land with no books !

When will you know about your potential prize ?


Kitty Tue Jun 23 22:17:37 PDT 1998

Philip-I can't find your current e-mail, so I'm posting my question to you here and hope you pop by in the near future. I am wondering if you are familiar with a book title Mutant Message Downunder (I think) by Marlo Morgan? I have a friend who is currrently reading and raving about it. From what I gather it is about a woman who goes to Australia to help start up a window screen operation and ends up on a three month walkabout. I'm not sure if it is fiction or biography, but it seems to be one of those books that put a distinct shift in your perspective--at least, according to my friend. For some reason the title is ringing a bell, but the why of it is ellusive. Hope you can give a tweak of recognition.

As to the current topic, I have felt a dark, bleak dispair only once in regards to writing and that was about four months ago. For a very brief moment, I made the grave error of comparing my progress with that of a former friend who had just landed a prestiguous job with a major international magazine. What did I do about it? I confess to wallowing in the self-pitying unfairness of it all for one evening. At some point, that part of my brain which knows precisely that writing is not a competition asserted itself and by morning I was back to normal--maybe a little hungrier to get published in fiction, but normal. I think the whole episode had more to do with the unfinished business of a ruined friendship than an organic problem with writing.

Tue Jun 23 22:17:26 PDT 1998

Tue Jun 23 22:16:46 PDT 1998

Gary S Tue Jun 23 21:42:00 PDT 1998


For grammar you can't beat, "Gramatically Correct" by Anne Stillman. Its a hard-back and you can get it from for 20+. If you have the question, it's got the answer.

Gary S

Goodweed of the North Tue Jun 23 20:56:52 PDT 1998

Rhoda. Again you make me proud. It takes a bit of courage to admit to haveing faith in an open forum. Like yourself, I rely on my faith to keep me positive and motivated. I also review my skills and research ways to improve them. Then I write the best possible story I can and have someone whose judgement I trust read the work as it progresses. Proofreading also takes up a great deal of time and effort. If I immerse myself in my family, beliefs, day job, hobbies, and writing, as well as household chores, I won't have time to get discouraged. Life will continue whether I get published or not. When people get tense and fret over non-life threatening things, I try to remind them that the sun will still rise the next morning and the new day will be another oportunity to make things right. One of the best places to get a shot of enthusiasm of course is right here. I've learned so much from the discussions.
"Tanks ta evvryone. Haachachachacha." (my best written imitation of Jimmy Durante heh heh).

Well, It's past my bedtime folks. I'm told I need some serious beauty sleep so as not to offend the common populace.

Seeeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North

I'm going to follow your lead, and hoaky as it may sound to some, I feel I received witness from the Holy Ghost, a prompting if you will, that I would indeed get published. Of course, that only works if I write a sellable story. That's my part of the deal. If nothing else, this belief, or knowledge as I prefer to think of it, keeps me motivated.

This prompting, by the way, came after prayer.

Rhoda Tue Jun 23 19:18:36 PDT 1998

I hate to be the first one to tackle your question, Jack, but here goes:

I don't get upset necessarily by the number of rejections. Only the ones where for some reason or another I had set my hopes bother me. As I related here once before, a certain agent I was referred to by an editor who had read my book, never answered my query. When I had called her and related to her that this particular editor had referred me to her, she hung up on me. Once I read about an agent in the WRITER'S GUIDE TO EDITORS AND AGENTS. I really liked the bio on this guy and wrote a well thought out, tailor-made query letter for him which he never answered. That bothered me.

This submission process must take a higher toll on my sensibilities than I am consciously aware of, for now that I've finished this later book and am now rewriting it, I dread the idea of sending out. I believe this book is much better and more marketable than the first one, but every time I sit down to write my list of possible agents and editors to send it to, I get sick to my stomach.

I am miserable when I am not writing--far more miserable than I am when I am getting rejected. I realize now that I have much to learn about writing and that perhaps my first novel deserved every rejection it got. I also have to draw on faith. If I am doing what the Lord wants me to do, then someday my efforts will prosper. Perhaps that sounds a bit fatalistic, but I do realize that one needs more than talent and skill to succeed in today's market. It is important to contact with that one particular editor who just happens to need what you have to offer, NOW. You might get thousands of rejections, but one acceptance from the right person will get a book into print. It is often inspiring to hear about the numbers of rejections several famous authors got before they made their break.

Lastly, it is important to remember there is fun in the journey. Since I've tried to make my writing professional, I have met so many tremendous people at writer's conferences, writer's meetings, and here on this Notebook. I have learned how to write better, how to work in a more disciplined way and how to better take criticism--skills that will benefit me in many other arenas in life other than writing.

Happy writing, everyone!


Jack Beslanwitch Tue Jun 23 16:35:00 PDT 1998

OK, I have archived and have also added a new topic for us to peruse and explore.

           With all the absolutely wonderful news about nominations for awards and successful sales of books, let's look at the darker side of writing and the pursuit of publication. When you keep getting rejection slips, how do you keep the energy and motivation going to keep on writing. How do you deal with the depression that is often times endemic to the writing experience and even arise once a book has been accepted and your are writing it or the publisher pulls the rug out from you at the last moment. Short of Prozac or a dose of St. John's Wort or way too many drinks, what are the best methods for keeping the pursuit of publication in proper perspective and proper sense of humor.

Jack Beslanwitch Tue Jun 23 14:15:33 PDT 1998

I just got an email from a British company called Allison and Busby that are conduction a short short story contest (200 words or less). Details can be found at I know of nothing else about them, but among those they are publishing there are Anthony Burgess. They indicate that there are prizes to be won, all winners will be posted on their web site and particularly good ones may be asked to submit their own longer works for possible publication. Again, I am just passing this along. If it is of interest, all to the good. Oh, and I will be archiving sometime later today. Some of this will get transferred over, including this. I will also try to come up with a new and interesting topic. If anyone has a suggestion feel free to email me.

Kitty Tue Jun 23 11:57:37 PDT 1998

I can highly recommend The Transitive Vampire, A handbook of GRAMMAR for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed and the companion volume The Deluxe Transitive Vampire, The Ulitmate handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager and the Doomed by Karen Elizabeth Gordon for help with your grammar problems. Both slim volumes explain, in an entertaining fashion, the rules of the written word--and the illustrations are pretty entertaining too.
Is your mid 19th century research focussed on Europe or North America?

Tue Jun 23 11:57:29 PDT 1998

Hayden Mon Jun 22 23:58:50 PDT 1998

I haven't won it yet. It is still in final judging, and I am just one of the shortlisted writers. So, as much as I love the praise, I dare not take the acclaim until it is given. The praise on the other hand is something I will store away and draw out when I am feeling a little down in the mouth.

The vacuum you mention is an object rather than a place...believe it or not. Try changing the sentence to read something like :
she left a bottle where no one can fill...doesn't make much sense.
Then try it again:
she left a vaccum that no one can fill...ah much better...

It's a pity she left the vacuum behind, because I could have used it to do my carpets.

Bmiao Mon Jun 22 23:21:04 PDT 1998

Sometimes, i have problems with grammar. i wonder if anyone can help me? For instance, in the following sentence " she left a vaccum where no one can fill." or should the sentence be " she left a vaccum that no one can fill." And why?
Is there somewhere on the net where one can get help on grammar?
Thanks you.


Return to Writer's Notebook