Poor WordPress, automatically turning every post title into the default URL for the post. I hope there’s no character limit on these things. Snappy titles were never something I was good at — in fact, if I could, I’d leave the space at the top of my stories blank, and let the editors just pick their own damn title. They do a lot of the time anyway, and it would save me a lot of time wasted trying to find a title that, while not necessarily very good (I try not to let my ambition run too far ahead of my ability), at least didn’t make the story sound really campy and stupid. I could have written great titles for 1960s horror movies. That’s not what this post was going to be about, but now you’ve learned something else about me.
Headlines, though, those are fun. I feel like headline writer for The Wall Street Journal would actually be my dream job.
Anyway. I’ve been wrestling with re-creating a “Works” page on this blog to showcase a few stories, just so my (limited) audience at least has some idea what I’m talking about when I babble about my “writing” — whatever the hell that is, right? Unless you happen to be in my editing group (love yas), you’ve never seen the prose in question. And that puts me in a rather awkward spot, since most publishers of short fiction are pretty strict about not taking anything that’s ever seen the light of day before, including in small excerpts on your blog. I feel like the options open to visual artists on sites like DeviantArt or even crafters on Etsy aren’t very useful to writers, especially short fiction writers.
One obvious solution is to write short samples specifically for the blog page, but in all honesty, I’ve got an ambitious writing schedule as it is. There’s enough irons on the fire without adding another, and if I did, the results (since I would know in my heart of hearts that they didn’t need to be publication-worthy) would probably be half-assed and not an example of my work that I want to show the world anyway. I’ve seen some people who have or contribute to free fiction blogs as a way of generating exposure, including some novel-length works, and I admire those people — but realistically, I think my deadline on proving I can make at least some money doing this is a little tight for that kind of time investment, and I don’t know that there’s any real proven correlation between running pieces in free e-zines and scoring professional publications, yet. Maybe in a few years (after the iPad has changed the face of publication forever, right? Just trying to stay topical this week…)
Another option is to sacrifice a few stories for the “Works” page and only submit them to the semi-professional sorts of publications that are willing to take previously-run stories, rather than First Serial Rights (or whatever), and I have considered that one. Especially the really good one that keeps getting bounced, I think because it doesn’t fit as neatly into “themed” issues and most of the places I’ve sent it have been doing those lately. That’s what I tell myself, anyway, but it might be time to just throw that one up in its entirety and offer it up to the semi-pro tier of things at this point. Postage is starting to add up on that one (it’s kind of fun to do the math and figure out how many times you can submit a story of such-and-such length and so-many-cents-per-word before the postage costs outweigh the profit, but also kind of not).
“Previews” that aren’t directly from the text are another option — I can see a use for text pulled out of drafts that didn’t make it into the final version, but still capture the feel of a piece. It does lock those chunks of text out of any published version for good, though, and I’m always reluctant to do that — you never know what’s going to be a good fit after a round of post-rejection changes (which I’m usually sparing with, but still, you never know).
Unfortunately, all of this is so much whistling in the dark if I can’t get a better handle on formatting WordPress pages — ideally, I’d like the “Works” page to be set up largely like the actual blog, with every work showcased in a separate “post” of its own, though obviously things like the date and time, tags, categories, and all of that are less important. Failing that, I at least have to be able to do some basic centering, sizing, and formatting besides hitting “ENTER” to separate my paragraphs — currently, I can’t even get it to make a larger vertical space by hitting “ENTER” multiple times (though I suppose I could use good formatting habits, and just put a bunch of pound signs on top of one another). So that’s another skill to acquire somewhere.
I’m gonna learn to play the guitar here some time, too.
So that’s another iron in the old fire for now, but maybe one that will wait on getting some drafts out to the editing group, because right now they all think I died. Just wait until I send you the novel to look at, suckers! Tune in Monday, when I talk about pony stories.