Glengarry Glen Ross Writing Philosophy

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Glengarry Glen Ross Writing Philosophy

Postby Third Foundationer » Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:28 pm

"Always...Be...Closing."

That's from the David Mamet play/screenplay Glengarry Glen Ross. With a little modification, I think that philosophy is very useful for writers.* I recently had a novel sunmission bounced from EDGE Science Fiction, and I spent about 12 hours sulking about it. "Your work isn't right for us at this time" is a rather anodyne statement issued by the industry, and while I appreciate the attempt not to discourage new writers, it is impossible not to see the words "your writing stinks" hidden behind the vanilla rejection sentence. Hence the sulking.

However, the difference between the successful writer and the unsuccessful one is persistence, so it's time to look for new markets and get back to work. I am shopping Vale of Stars to another market while also writing Belt, and taking a little time off to post here.

I'm wondering how the rest of you deal with rejections.

If you're interested in more, you can go to my website at http://www.the3rdfoundation.com and read more.

Thanks!

--3rdF

*I realize that in the play the phrase really isn't about an optimistic, can-do sort of attitude but rather signifies the crushing pressure of the salesman's life, but bear with me here. :)
Last edited by Third Foundationer on Thu Jun 16, 2011 11:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Glengarry Glen Ross Writing Philosophy

Postby admin » Thu Jun 16, 2011 6:49 am

A professional writer is by definition someone who can handle rejection. That doesn't mean I like it. It just means that if I couldn't stand it (and many people can't) I would never have sold a story.
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Re: Glengarry Glen Ross Writing Philosophy

Postby Malcontent » Sat Jun 18, 2011 2:38 am

Hey 3rdF, I totally agree with Rick. Writing is totally subjective. Some people are going to appreciate your work and some will not. I have heard so many stories of people whose work was rejected by the first two or five or 10 editors to rip it off the slush pile...Harry Potter, Gardens of the Moon, Animal Farm, Life of Pi (that last one took home a Man-Booker prize FFS!), etc. I suggest you just keep at it. After all the hours you've put into something...it's just postage.

I will make a suggestion though...look into doing whatever you have to do to get an agent. Be careful with how you do that, but you will be much more successful if you can skip the slush pile altogether. When I wrap mine up that's what I'm going to do. Already have my approach planned too.

Good luck.

/M
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Re: Glengarry Glen Ross Writing Philosophy

Postby admin » Sat Jun 18, 2011 7:11 am

I've tried to get an agent, made some bad blunders, was turned down by a lot of agents. I'm told the only way to get an agent is to pay big bucks to go to one of the major writer's conferences and then make friends with one of the agents there. I do not know if this is true. I have heard of a number of cases where someone has gotten an agent by being a buddy of a major writer, and getting a personal recommendation.

Malcontent writes, "Writing is totally subjective." Not totally. There is some writing out there that nobody would buy it under any circumstances -- somewhere between 20% and 50%. I'm talking about the, "Angela, clad only in chain-mail panties, leaped from the back of her bucking spaceship, and hit the space pirate with her broadsword." No, sorry, that's too good. I can't write as badly as the hopeless writers even if I try. Try again. "Anglea clad in chin mail leap from her borking space ship and hits the sp#ce iprate over them head with she board sword." A little bit closer to the mark, but still not bad enough.

But the other 50% to 80% would have been professional enough to sell fifty years ago -- but still would not have sold because it was either too sexy or lacked action. In those days, Angela and her broadsword would have had a better chance -- except publishers by and large wouldn't publish stories with strong women in them. Stories by James Schmitz were exceptions.
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Re: Glengarry Glen Ross Writing Philosophy

Postby Malcontent » Sat Jun 18, 2011 11:01 am

That's a fair comment, but I was disregarding the stuff that isn't actually in proper English. There is a lot of stuff that is good enough to publish but can't find an audience because it's not what the editor is looking for that day (i.e.: he/she's already bought three chicks-in-chainmail-panties-battle-space-pirate stories and just doesn't have room for another), or they don't see it being successful in the market, or they just don't like it. The first two are business decisions, while the other is purely subjective. You have to get all three to make the sale. For example...I was really into Cyberpunk in the 90s and wrote some stories in that genre...they went nowhere of course. That whole genre was dead before I even read Neuromancer. The fact that they sucked didn't help of course, but even good stories gather dust if their day has passed.

You are totally right about the difficulties in getting an agent. Those waters are definitely choppy. I have heard a lot of horror stories about people losing money and time to Shylocks (and by that I mean crooks, not specifically Jewish crooks). I am going to try to go the established-writer-recommendation route myself, but with each year that passes the writer in question (who read my stuff and was positive about it when he was a writer-in-residence at my local library some years back). The thing is, those passing years are adding up and that window may be closed. ("Who did you say you are?"). The conferences are okay, but you are right...they are expensive and very hit or miss. There are other avenues though. Is there a writing association in your community, or a chapter of a larger group (like the SFWA). There are lots of these groups popping up and they usually hold monthly meetings and often get speakers in who have some valuable insight to pass along to their members, and these people are often agents and editors or established writers who have agents and editors. Go do the networking thing and see if anyone can help you. Finally...there's doing things the hard way...do your research...look at the authors who right the stuff most like yours and find out who their agents are and pitch them directly.

Of course, all the usual cautions apply. If anyone wants you to pay them to read your story then they are making money from reading your book and not selling it. Walk the other way and start again. And in the meantime...keep sending your book to publishers. Writers DO get picked off the slush pile every day. It can happen to you too.
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Re: Glengarry Glen Ross Writing Philosophy

Postby Third Foundationer » Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:46 pm

What I have heard is that for a first-time author (and I am not including POD publishing) getting a good agent is almost as difficult as being published in the first place. I'm planning on continuing to find markets, although small ones, to hit.

While I agree that there are subjective elements to the selection process, I wholeheartedly believe that good writing--check that--GREAT writing will overcome the slightly capricious nature of the industry. Since I cannot control what the editor ate that day, or what he or she is into that particular month, I don't want to overstress that angle of the process. I can control how well I write, what I choose to write about, and where I send my stuff.

Maybe that's not committed enough: maybe in order to make it at all in the business, one needs to throw oneself into it--abandon one's job, spend a lot of time and money traveling around the country, networking, schmoozing, etc. I know I can't live that lifestyle, though, so if that is what is required, I won't be able to do that.

Anyway, great discussion so far. Thanks for all the responses!

--3rdF
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Re: Glengarry Glen Ross Writing Philosophy

Postby admin » Sun Jun 19, 2011 8:28 am

No local writers group. I tried to start one, got three people who were "interested". All three had one short story, which they had been working on for years, and weren't interested in starting another until their first was just the way the wanted it. I read their stories, all "literary" fiction with about as much chance of selling as a year old kitten.
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Re: Glengarry Glen Ross Writing Philosophy

Postby Third Foundationer » Sat Jul 16, 2011 2:29 am

I didn't want to hijack admin's thread, "The Story of a Story," so I'll put this here instead.

Sent out Vale of Stars to Twilight Times Books today. Their website said that they were closed to fiction submissions until July 15. So I sent them the story on July 15. Can't say I'm not punctual. :D

Also, not sure if this is gauche or not (admin, please let me know if it is unseemly to advertise one's own wares here and I'll withdraw in shame) but I also slashed the price of my self-published anthology, Wondrous Strange. I lowered the price all the way down to $0.99. It's an ebook, but I have it on every possible platform I could find. If you're interested, you can visit my website in the "Books" section (or go to Smashwords) to check it out.

I came to the conclusion that what I really want with my writing is for SOMEONE to read it. The money, for me, is very far down the list of priorities (I am gainfully employed otherwise), so I lowered the price down to where I'll need to sell something like eleven books to buy one of Starbucks' frou-frou drinks. Have any of you done the epublishing thing, and if so, any stories you care to tell about it?

--3rdF
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Re: Glengarry Glen Ross Writing Philosophy

Postby admin » Sat Jul 16, 2011 6:25 am

First, I welcome posts from writers, would be writers, desparate writers, and self-promoting writers. Every writer knows that it doesn't matter how good your stuff is if nobody reads it.

Times have changed. There were once dozens of widely read fiction magazines. Now, very few, with a circulation of about a tenth what they were in, say, the 1950s. People do other things with their time. You're not only competing with George R. R. Martin for a reader's time, but also with Portal 2, Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon, Doctor Who, and Jane Austin. There are many more writers, far fewer readers.

On getting paid: it is, as you note, not so much the money as the creds. If your work isn't good enough for somebody to pay you for it, most readers figure it isn't worth their valuable time.
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Re: Glengarry Glen Ross Writing Philosophy

Postby Third Foundationer » Tue Jul 26, 2011 2:34 am

Whew!

Finally finished the first draft of the novel I am working on now. It's a hard science fiction novel about asteroid mining. The first draft clocked in at just over 92,000 words. Quick summary available at http://www.the3rdfoundation.com

Now comes the hard part: revision.

--3rdF
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