Where will your writing end up?

I find it fascinating where my writing ends up.

Let me explain. Most writers, myself included, desire for our words to be read by others. Sure, some people write only for themselves and that’s fine. I would contend though that the majority of writers dream of having an audience for their words, preferably a large one. I like to know from my readers that I have written something that has intrigued, challenged, entertained, inspired or instructed them – not all at the same time , of course, though that would be great.

It always amazes me where my writing ends up being published. Sure, I’ve have had some small publishing successes. My stories, poems and articles have appeared in books, anthologies, magazines, newspapers and I’ve performed some of my poems in public too. One of my plays was featured on a national television programme. Last year one of my poems was set to music and performed at the ANZAC Day ceremonies in Belgium. Cool.

My latest publication success is intriguing. It’s always nice to be invited to submit something and that is what happened earlier this week. A simple little haiku I wrote some years ago has been published on the Ocean Portal site of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

Why not head over there and have a look. They are celebrating National Poetry Week by inviting readers to submit their own poems celebrating their love of the ocean.


And if you are interested in reading some of my poetry, click here.

Good writing.

Lollipops and rejection letters

Rejection letters are a fact of life for writers.

Every writer gets rejected.


Perhaps I should qualify that statement. Every writer who submits to publishers gets rejection letters. No-one is exempt; it’s a fact of life for a writer. If you keep on submitting stories, poems, articles and novels to publishers you are going to get rejected. Not every piece of writing will get accepted, nor will everything you slave over will see publication. Fact.

No writer likes getting rejection letters. I’ve sometimes heard speakers or read in books about writing that we should not be upset about getting a rejection letter. Everyone gets them, and the publisher is rejecting the story or poem and not you. While there is some truth in that, getting such a letter still hurts. Sometimes – many times – we find it hard to divorce ourselves from our babies, er… writing. You don’t like my poem – therefore you don’t like me. It’s an easy conclusion to come to, and it can be quite harmful. And it hurts. I know; I’ve had my fair share of rejection. A few years ago I sent out over 30 submissions to various publishers and every one was rejected. I nearly gave up writing.

The good news

Now for some good news. Not every letter from a publisher is a rejection. If you keep on writing the best work you can produce and keep on sending it out, sooner or later you will see your name in print. And when you get an acceptance the feeling is great. You are entitled to do the Writer’s Dance. Yell and scream in excitement. Tell your family and  friends. And then get back to writing and do it all over again.


Now what about the “lollipops” mentioned in my title? I’ve just read a wonderful story about “How to turn rejection letters into a positive.” The writer of this article learned a valuable lesson from lollipops.

  • Keep working hard at your writing.
  • Only submit your very best work.
  • Keep on striving to improve.
  • Keep on sending out your writing.
  • Enjoy those acceptance letters.

Good writing.

A few tales to tell

I recently had some publication success. Yay!

Every year the Creative Writing department of the university where I recently completed my MA (Tabor Adelaide) publishes an anthology of poetry, short plays and short stories. The contributors are all present or former students, and a few staff members also add to the eclectic mix of writing. This anthology was the 6th edition and the quality is extremely high. The competition to be included is making it harder to be included every year, so I was pleased to have a short story and a poem in the latest issue.

I’ve read all six editions and have enjoyed all of the stories. Many of the poems could easily have found a home in any of our most prestigious literary journals. In fact, two of our regular contributors, both former students, have had stories published in a leading journal in recent months. It speaks volumes for the standard of teaching at Tabor Adelaide, and says much for the talents being nurtured.

The anthology is called Tales from the Upper Room, reflecting the theological roots of Tabor Adelaide and a direct link to the upper room where Jesus and his disciples met to celebrate the last supper. The ‘upper room’ also refers to the fact that our writers’ groups meet in The Loft, the highest room in the university.


Learn the craft of writing

Many would be writers fail before they start.

They fail because they have not learned the basics of the craft of writing. They assume that they can write a best seller on the basis of their ability to string together a few words. They have not done their apprenticeship in the craft of writing. Then they get upset because their manuscript gets rejected the first time they send it to a publisher.

Time for a reality check.

I read recently about a successful editor working for a large publishing company who stated that at least 80% of manuscripts fail in the first page or two and deserved to be rejected. That’s a staggering statistic. Novice writers are almost all rejected because they fail to study or understand the writing and publishing process.

This editor made some simple to follow observations:

  1. Follow the publisher’s guidelines to the letter. Most writers don’t bother to do this basic first step and so their manuscript will be rejected. That is the harsh reality whether they like it or not.
  2. Format the manuscript correctly. Presentation is everything. Most  publishers have their own way they require a manuscript to be presented. Find out what that is and follow it.
  3. Check the grammar. A poor grasp of the English language, its structures, formalities and conventions will make it easy for the editor to reject a manuscript. If you lack confidence or knowledge in this area get someone to teach you – or find a book or course to help you.
  4. Check the spelling. Spelling mistakes can and must be avoided. Check every word, recheck and check again. When writing my current novel I’m on the 7th draft and I’m still finding typos.
  5. Check the punctuation. Again, check, double check and then some more. Get someone else to check the manuscript for you. Pay a professional copy-editor to check it for you. You will be amazed at how many simple errors can creep in under the radar.

In short – give yourself the best possible chance of having your manuscript accepted for publication.

Good writing.