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Writing Quote: Eat Its Head Off

July 25, 2010

It’s that time of week, again: time for another dose of Writing Quotes.  I’ve quoted Isaac Asimov here, before, so I won’t belabor you with his biography or lists of accomplishments.  I’ll let the link to his previous quote do that.  So, what does Uncle Isaac have to tell us today?

You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist.

~Isaac Asimov

It’s an important lesson for we writers.  We hear it time and time again, and yet it bears repeating, if getting published is our goal.  I, myself, am planning soon (as soon as I get a little time to address a large manila envelope) to send out that story I wrote.  And, when I have time again, I’ll be spending a little time working on a first (and very rough) draft of my next story (or two… I’m contemplating taking some of my old Friday Flash/Author Aerobics stories here and fleshing them out a bit).  It’s sloooooooooooooowwww going for me.  But that’s to be expected, under the circumstances.

Mostly, though, I picked this quote not because it’s such good advice (it is, but that’s not why I picked it).  Mostly, I picked it because I loved the metaphor embedded in this one: “never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer”.  Fantastic.

Happy Writing.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. July 25, 2010 8:07 pm

    Persistence gets old after a while. But it must be done, I suppose…you must try again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again (Am I published yet?), and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again. And again.

    Like I said, persistence gets annoying.

    • July 26, 2010 8:50 am

      I imagine it’s annoying on both sides of the persistence equation: both for s/he that is being persistent and the poor editors who keep reading what we’ve written…

  2. Lua permalink
    July 26, 2010 2:29 am

    Got to be persistent and patient if you want to make it as a writer… Great quote Stephen!

    • July 26, 2010 8:51 am

      That’s the one bit of advice for young and unpublished authors that appears to be universal.

  3. July 26, 2010 9:07 am

    And again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again. And again.

  4. July 26, 2010 12:28 pm

    Another thing that remains to be said is that it’s not as if you’re throwing your work out into a black hole (though it feels like that sometimes). If you’re getting closer, you’ll know it. Maybe not after the first dozen, or hundred, times but eventually you’ll start to get non-form rejections. You’ll start to get feedback. There are clues you are on the right track.

    Hehe you know, I’m picturing my stories getting all cannibalistic when I’m not watching. I better start submitting again. Yikes!

    • July 26, 2010 12:37 pm

      Indeed. My currently finished story has been sitting around too long since I got that rejection back already…

      And you’re right. Over time, the nature and tone of the rejections should change. That’s a sign of the progress – a sign that you’re almost there.

      Now, if only I could tell for sure whether something was really a form or personalized rejection – in the day and age of mail merge, it can get hard to tell…

    • July 26, 2010 5:41 pm

      (I resisted doing an again-and-again comment, he he)

      It was nice to hear Tessa say that we’re not throwing our beloved children into a black hole. It wasn’t exactly as nice when she got to that dozen-or-hundred thing. 🙂 I hope I do start to get feedback on my queries sometime soon! I’m past the half-dozen mark. I wonder if I’m any closer. 🙂

      T.S., love your bit about cannibalistic stories. 😛 lololol

      • July 26, 2010 6:53 pm

        hehe well it does depend a lot on where you’re submitting and getting feedback on a novel’s a bit different than short stories. Don’t worry! I’m sure you’ll start hearing back soon enough!

      • July 27, 2010 8:37 am

        It’s true there’s a big difference between short stories and novels.

        That said… In general, breaking into writing isn’t something you wake up one day and decide to do and then the next day you’ve done it. (Obviously I don’t think anyone here is in that group.) So yeah, I agree with Bazelli’s assessment that it takes a lot of effort before you see fruit.

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