Thursday, July 05, 2007

I'm Building a Time Machine

By Nichole Giles

In the business of writing, occasional rejection is inevitable. Editors will send your brilliant work back to you, sometimes with comments, sometimes with nothing more than a post-it saying, “No thank you.”

I have received a lot of rejections in my time as a writer. And I admit, some have hurt worse than others. The one I got today hurt. Do you want to know why?

Because rather than telling me my writing wasn’t good, or not age appropriate, or even that it didn’t fit the magazine’s current needs, they told me my bibliography was weak.

Now, under some circumstances, I can understand that. I’ve actually had a comment similar to that on a different article (but curiously from the same magazine). But this one bothered me a great deal because my sources are not only many, but they are solid.

The article was about George Washington. Not only did I read at least 6 adult and children’s books about the subject, but I also confirmed all my facts through the George Washington papers in the Library of Congress. I also confirmed with another source—the original Maryland Gazette—which printed GW’s report on the particular mission I wrote about.

So, because my current research methods are apparently not good enough, and the Library of Congress is not considered “up to date”, I have decided to build a time machine. I will invest years and years of my time, and more money than I will ever have in this life, or the future lives of all my children and grandchildren, in order to build this machine. Once it is up and running, I will go back in time to the year 1754, where I will find a 21-year-old militia commander just returned from his very first spy mission. I will ask him, “Mr. Washington, would you mind taking a few minutes of your precious time to tell me exactly how you found your way into the espionage business?”

Then, I will pray that he will actually take a few minutes to answer my questions, because if he doesn’t, my article will never be published. Well, at least not by that magazine.

Someone else suggested I find an angel channeling specialist and hold a séance to call up the spirit of good old George so that he may clarify the facts for me. But, I’m thinking the magazine might frown on that source as well.

It’s a good thing I have a really thick book of other magazines to which I can submit my work. Otherwise, I’d have to dedicate my life to finding bibliography sources for an 800 word article that might eventually make me somewhere around $200.

On the bright side, I haven’t actually received any magazine contracts this year, so I should have one in the mail anytime…right?


ali said...

Hey, if you build that time machine Nichole, you could rent it out and make back at last a portion of that money you'd have spent. I'd pay for the privilege to use it!

Sorry about that darn magazine ... what do they know, right?

Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen said...

Sorry to hear what you went through, Nicole.
I liked how you ended your blog--with hope. My guess is that if the only gripe the other magazine had about your story was that you weren't a specialist, then someone else will want it. I'm assuming you included your research sources in your submission? Also, maybe this is something you've already thought of, but perhaps you ought to send out a bunch of queries, rather than the article, and see who "bites." Then send the article to them.
Again, I'm sorry, but take heart. You did do many things right.

Nichole Giles said...

If I ever discover how to travel in time, I'll let you know. Renting it out is a great idea. I hadn't thought about that.

Anyway, the magazine is the loser in this situation. Someone else will bite, I'm sure of it!

Thanks for commenting.

Nichole Giles said...

I am a positive person in general, so I always have hope. Right now I am hoping another magazine will bite on that article. By next week, it will be going to at least two more magazines.

The thing about writing for children is that most of the magazines want a full manuscript. Sadly, that means doing a lot of work on the hope that someone will like what you've written.

The good side is that every article you write is good experience for writing one that will get sold.

Oh, and when writing nonfiction, I always include a bibliography.

Thanks for commenting!