Suck It Up and Challenge Yourself
I’ve recently noticed some authors complaining about the short story market. They said that all the anthologies were looking for stories that were too topic-specific, and their word count guidelines were too strict, and the pay was too little, etc. I couldn’t believe it. I mean, come on. These people are supposed to be writers. Writers are people who are supposed to be able to write on demand (at least in my opinion). So if an anthology is looking for a story about an 8 foot tall purple alien with green teeth and an addiction to corn on the cob, you should be able to write a story to fit that topic. If you can’t, that anthology isn’t for you; move on to the next one. You should also reconsider your career choice because you should be able to write about any topic at the drop of a hat. As for the word count, it’s called editing. As for the pay, I don’t know what makes you think your work is so good you deserve to have money rained down upon you, but if you don’t like what they’re paying, don’t submit. If you think no money is better than some money, then keep your story locked away in your files. It’s quite simple, really.
I may be the only one who thinks this way, but this is my take on the whole thing:
I’m a writer. Writing is my business. As a business operator, I understand a few basic principles. One of them is that exposure is vital. People have to know you’re out there. That’s why every few minutes on television we see commercials. All good business owners understand that you have to advertise for people to know you exist. Anthologies (to me anyway) are like commercials. It’s advertising your work. Who cares if they don’t pay that much? You’re getting your work and your name out there. It’s all about exposure.
Another principle of my business as a writer is that I have to adapt or die. In fact, that’s a rule of all businesses. Remember all those Borders bookstores that closed? They didn’t adapt, and look what happened. I find it a challenge to submit stories to anthologies with very specific guidelines. You can’t just write a bunch of stories and wait for an anthology or magazine looking for that story. That’s a stupid way to do it. You have to write the story to fit the guidelines. And if you ask me, if you can’t write a story to fit a specific set of rules, then you’re no writer.
I love a good challenge. It exercises the mind and cleanses the soul. If you can’t suck it up and challenge yourself with your writing, then maybe you should remain a reader and leave the writing to the pros.