Finnian Burnett

Storyteller

You know, you have those days (weeks, months) when you think you are the worst writer in the world and no one is ever going to publish you again. Or is that just me? Those weeks when you’ve gotten more rejections than acceptances, or worse, when you haven’t submitted anything in a long while and you start to wonder if you ever will again.

My last novel was published in 2018. I traditionally published my first few novels and self-published one. Both ways of publishing have their ups and downs, but I find it easier to publish with a publisher. However, my previous publisher is a niche publisher (LGBTQ press) and my latest works are not queer fiction so it’s back to square one in finding a publisher.

And sometimes, I worry I’ll never publish another novel. I have a couple completed ones, but querying is exhausting and draining to me, so I don’t tend to send them out. I don’t really want to self-publish, either. So, they languish and I think about them occasionally and then I stop thinking about them until the next time. Why is the business of writing so hard on a person’s mental health?

But recently, I’ve become more and more enamored with flash fiction and lately, I’ve been finding some success in short pieces. I’ve been published a few times this year and overall, I’ve felt my acceptance to rejection rate in 2021 has been stellar.

This week, though. THIS has been an amazing week. This is the kind of week a writer needs to have so they can hold on for the next few months.

It started at the beginning of the week when I went to the Bath flash fiction festival online. They do three contests during the day and all participants are encouraged to submit to them the day after the festival. I submitted a piece for the technical challenge, a contest that required writing a narrative in the form of a recipe. I won first place.

Later that week, I found out my 42-word short story was accepted into an anthology.

A couple days later, I found out The Daily Science Fiction will be publishing my short piece, “The Last Gay in the World.”

I was invited to submit several drabbles to a holiday anthology and those were accepted. That book can be found here.

And last night, I found out I won first place in the Wine Country Writer’s Festival fiction contest for my short story, “The Rhee Family Drugstore.”

This has been an incredible year of short and flash fiction publishing for a few reasons.

  1. It’s kept me writing. Even when I feel the novel writing thing is too much, I can still keep honing my craft with short pieces.
  2. The thrill of acceptance. There are so many contests and journals out there. I can enjoy the thrill of the acceptance without the long, excruciating wait of sending out a book to a publisher.
  3. The flash community is wonderful.
  4. All this writing of flash gave me an idea for an novella-in-flash, my recently completed work called, “The Clothes Make the Man,” which I will probably submit to a contest.
  5. I have honed the f*ck out of my craft! All this flash writing has given me a new appreciation for lyrical language, the economy of words, and the balance between revealing too much and not giving the reader enough. When or if I do go back to writing novels, I can’t help but think all this flash practice will be a great service.

Perhaps the most important thing to come out of this writing week of awesomeness is that you just have to keep trying in whatever way feels right to you. I think writers (or perhaps creators of any kind) all go through these periods when we think no one is reading our work, no one wants us to succeed, no one will ever appreciate us, and maybe we should just stop.

That’s normal. But it isn’t permanent. And maybe when I hit another plateau and I’m feeling sorry for myself and doubting my writing ability, I’ll pull up this blog and remember the thrill and excitement of how it felt to have a very good week.

We can hope.

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