Previously published

When I started this blog much of my writing was opinion pieces – some politics but mainly reviews of TV, music, art, fashion and other categories too numerous to mention – I did not know much what to expect but knew enough about how the web and search engines worked that much of the traffic I was going to get would be based on the subject of my reviews not for the quality of my writing. And so it proved to be. Some of my most popular posts have not been ones I thought were my best, in turn some of my posts that I was most pleased with sank unseen.

I did not mind. Most importantly for me I was writing and writing regularly. And occasionally I was getting encouraging feedback.

Earlier this year I decided to try some fiction too.  I was wanting to do it but was aware that having regularly posted review-type posts I may lose the interest of those that had followed me for that.

Nevertheless this same group of subbers provided me a guaranteed if unwitting audience and I was sure I would get some feedback – unless it proved too horrible and then a diplomatic silence! Well I did get some feedback and it was encouraging.

However search engines bringing new traffic and readers I was less hopeful about – the nature of fiction is that it is messy and fuzzy and all of those non-categorizable things and so I was not expecting my poems and flash fiction to get as many hits as my reviews of The Jelly Fox or The Wolf Is Getting Married which have both had over a thousand hits. And so it proved to be.

The general audience pattern of my fiction is initial hits within the first 24-48 hours as regular subbers give it the look over, a very few of them hitting the Like button, and a few comments too. Then pretty much that is it – the odd trickle of single views appearing over the subsequent weeks and months.

Incidentally if you don’t know this already as well as being able to see your whole blog traffic for the last day, week, month, and longer, you can also see the complete history of traffic for any individual post. It can be edifying viewing!

The small feedback I did get was though insightful and gave me confidence in those posts (and caution about the posts where there was silence). It gave me the confidence indeed to want to submit them to journals and competitions.

One such post whom I can not name – very cloak and dagger! – all will be revealed (or not revealed!) shortly – I decided I would submit to a short story competition for Writers’ Forum. Writers’ Forum are a British based print and online writing journal and each month run a Short Story and Poetry competition. Nothing remarkable about this – many journals do. You can use sites like Duotrope who list many – not just for competition entry but for journal publication too. Or you can just use a search engine and be inundated and perhaps overwhelmed by all the options available to you.

This particular competition was a fee one – £6 – with a first prize of £300 second £150 and third £100 – not life-changing amounts to be sure but not to be sniffed at either. And they can build up your profile too. For this particular competition they even offer to critique your submissions – for an extra fee, naturally!

More importantly if you win a prize you can call yourself not just a Writer but a Professional Writer and that’s the end of that, no arguments!

This competition required writing between 1000 and 3000 words and my post was somewhere bang in the middle. So there I was happily reformatting my blog post as per their competition requirements – double-spacing, wide-margins – when I thought I should perhaps give the Terms and Conditions the once-over and there it was

All entries must be original and previously unpublished

– this includes newspapers, magazines, books and websites.

Publication on private online forums that are password-protected

and in private letters and emails does not count.

So even though the post in question has made me not a penny and has but double-digit viewing it counts as published and can make me not a penny more nevermind £300.

I was not going to be perturbed though. They would never have likely even heard of my blog-site let alone this short-story post, right?

But I thought I would type into Google a few lines from it as figure this is something they would likely do too and lo and behold it showed up on Google’s first page – yikes!

So I thought I would mark it private. This particular post received 9 Likes and 3 Comments and to all concerned I thank you. The post has not been removed just hidden!

It would disappear from Google eventually surely – I know that Google can make back-up copies of content but in terms of the original it would become unindexed. I hoped.

I only marked the post private a few days back and it is still listed on Google Page One so I will keep revisiting. But if it should not disappear?

Now I am not putting all my apples in the proverbial one basket. I intend to submit to many journals and competitions, the same entry multiple times too. Rejection I care not! I do not expect everyone who reads my prose to like my writing and same expectation applies to magazine editors and prize jurors too. If not for you, then someone else, and on.

And it is not just money that I am seeking for my writing, it is for increased profile  – for my writing that is, not me. I want my writing to be as read as widely as possible. It is not for me to say how high a profile my writing deserves but I do know that simply self-publishing it on a blog is not enough. It can get too easily overlooked, irrespective of its quality. I need to go out and pro-actively tout it too.

And I am aware that some journals and competitions do not have this stipulation about previous publication – and yet others that do but allow blogs. There are no standard terms and conditions in these things. But equally I do not want to limit my options in this regard either.

So if I cannot make my current blog fiction elude the all-seeing Google eye then none of my future fiction will be self-published on my blog. It will be typed on my Mac as per but then reside hidden away in a private file awaiting its life being endlessly entered in competitions and journals.

This does not mean the end of my blog I should add. Though fiction is the writing that gives me most pleasure its particular well is not as yielding to me as non-fiction or opinion-piece writing. And that type of writing will continue – I hope! – on this blog.

This post is as much to clear my head about my current writing plans but I also thought it was worth a share as some of you reading this may also be happily publishing your fiction on your own blogs unaware that it may limit your options to submit it for paid publication at a later date.

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Rejected

Blogging allows us play at writer, editor and publisher. We can be as creative or as self-indulgent as we see fit.

Yes a piece published after a copy-editor has run their jaded if watchful eye over it may still be death by a thousand cuts, death by a thousand buts. But there is at least that approval even if it attracts negative criticism by readers, or far worse, ignored by them.

And that is the best of it.

Let us assume the more usual fate of your submitted piece…that it is not even acknowledged. Or it is but only in the form of a standard, cursory ‘We thank you for your time…’ (Never mind your blood, sweat and tears). And then perhaps you brace yourself and prepare to send to another editor – presumably your second, third, fourth, that is your lesser choices, and trying not to consider serial rejection and its effects on your will, on your spirit.

Or perhaps you took the plunge and sent out your piece, your latest work of art, your baby, to multiple journals. A half-dozen rejections easily salved if but on the seventh there is an acceptance – those others then are fools, what do they know, I always thought the journal who accepted me was a cut above the rest, understood real art better than its peers etc. But naturally you fail to factor that not even the seventh accepts you – that your rejection is multiple, compounded, beyond complete.

You were as brave as you were masochistic. But at least there is a line around it, you can grieve and fume and curse but then begrudgingly accept and move on. Perhaps even to another piece, if ever becoming a shadow of a shadow of a shadow of your former self and dreams. The rejection was at least mercifully swift in the same way the guillotine was.

Whereas with WordPress (and all other blogging platforms of course) the rejection is terminal but never-ending, the slowest of slow deaths?

Initially the published post goes unLiked and unCommented by your subscribers. The endlessly creative and frankly tangential tagging designed to lure new unsuspecting WordPress bloggers to your post piques the curiosity of a mere motley few. As for your multitude of social media sharing options with their mocking promise of viral fame …the counts remain resolutely zero for the likes of Facebook and Twitter and well LinkedIn – did you really think your decidedly non-business like prose-piece would end up on there?

But then there is the follow up in the days and weeks ahead. Those views that search engines bring your way, well Google. But that is but hope, the kind that always kills you…as each subsequent day of silence taunts you.

Like the proverbial poop in the wood that goes unseen and did it then happen, likewise your barely viewed WordPress post, does it really have existence? Published but unread – snublished?

And then the Internet Long Tail, another Fairy Tale, Ray Kinsella Field of Dreams, “of build it and they will come”…eventually.  Give it 10,000 years and your post will have its share of savour and appreciation…

And what do we do readers? Do we take up other jobs and tasks where at least we are noticed, appreciated and sometimes thanked?

Of course not. We forget about it as best we can and start the process all over again.

This time they will take notice we tell ourselves. As said, it is the hope that kills you.

Happy blogging!