Just a quick announcement: I’ll be signing copies of my book, The Rise of Saint Fox and The Independence, at the AWP Writers’ Conference in Portland, OR this weekend from Mar. 27-30. Will be at Unsolicited Press’ booth, T9096, on Friday at 2pm amidst the hustle and bustle of the Bookfair. Copies of the book will be available for sale. Feel free to stop by and say hi!
My short story “Rabbit’s Foot” is out now in Mojo, a publication run by MFA graduate students at Wichita State University. This story got me into my own MFA program at OSU—a place where I’m learning, thriving, and working harder than I ever have. While MFAs aren’t for everyone—and I’m in the camp that doesn’t believe you necessarily need one to be a successful writer—it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life so far, largely due to the network of people I’m privileged to be working with, and the challenging but rapid growth opportunity of teaching college English right off the bat.
Interested in an MFA? My advice—research, research, research. I’d also advise against programs that aren’t fully funded. Many funded programs are notoriously difficult to get into, but depending on your economic situation (and if you’re a writer, odds are it is indeed a situation), you might not want to go thousands of dollars into debt when considering the potential financial payoff of the degree you’re seeking. For me, the payoff of the experience so far is largely untethered to my career and finances—I am rewarded in so many other ways.
A great resource for checking out what different programs have to offer is Poets and Writers MFA database. Be sure to research the faculty, too, they can make or break the experience for you.
Back to “Rabbit’s Foot.” This story is about a mixed-race stoner kid who befriends a man called Pigeon at the retirement home where he works. It deals with complicated morality, among other things, and is set in and around the San Francisco Bay Area, where I grew up.
“Pigeon hasn’t said a word to me in five days. But that’s not unusual.
By now I know the signs so he doesn’t have to bother with talking. A slap of his wide palm on the side of his chair means dim the lights. That clucking noise he makes in the back of his throat means close the window. A grunt means change my fucking man diaper…” [read more >>]
I have a little interview up with Freya Pickard on her imaginative book blog Dragonscale Clippings, where she features authors that have new books out in her escape pod simulated scenario known as EPod interviews.
Who is inside the lastest escape pod to arrive? If we just open the door – sorry, it’s a bit dented… And the oxygen levels are showing as severely depleted… Out fall two cats and – who’s this? Welcome back to civilisation, Corin Reyburn! What did you take with you? [Read more >>]
Writing a book is one thing, editing another, and publishing yet another thing entirely. Throughout roughly the past ten years of my life, during which I’ve considered writing my career (monetary input notwithstanding), I’ve gathered some information and experience that may be helpful to other writers. Here are answers to some common questions about what comes next after you complete that first draft, and how to get it ready to share with the rest of the world.
What do I do after finishing my first draft?
Edit, edit, edit. Preferably after you’ve given your manuscript some time to breathe, a couple of months, maybe longer—it really depends on what works for you. When you’re ready to dive back in, make sure you take the time to look at your story from a macro level—Are my characters consistent? Does the plot flow organically? Are there any continuity problems? Is this really the best POV for the story? Is my voice consistent?, and a micro-level—meaning sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, consistency in naming conventions, etc.
Edit the whole damn thing, then edit it again. Join a critique group. If you don’t know where to find one, try Meetup.com, night classes at a local college, your local bookstore, or online. Take the good feedback, leave the rest.
Edit it again.
Think you’re done?
One more time.
And it won’t be your last. If you’re serious enough to seek a publisher, you’ll be editing the manuscript a few more times with them. If you’re self-publishing, seriously consider hiring an editor (if you’re looking for an editor, try upwork.com) before you publish, no matter how good you think you are. If you’re really experienced and have workshopped your full novel with other eagle-eyed, experienced writers, then perhaps you don’t need an editor before attempting to publish, but it (usually) never hurts.
How do I publish?
There are dozens of articles out there on how to get your book published, and what works for you will depend on a number of factors such as who your audience is and what you want and expect out of having your book published. Are you in it for the money? For fame? If so, you’re in the wrong industry, my friend. Yes, big successes do happen, but they are few and far between. Are you in it because you love writing, love your story, and want to share it with other people? Good. Keep reading.
A friend of mine has this quote oft attributed to Hemingway framed on her wall: “Write drunk. Edit sober.” While I’m not much use writing drunk and do most of my writing and editing sober (though the occasional glass of wine, can, of course, spark sheer brilliance at times), there is something to be said about the parts of our brain, our hearts, our spirits, everything that makes us, that get kicked into high gear during these seemingly contrasting components of the writing process: writing and editing.
When my writing is at its best, I am writing from the heart. I am expressing something universal that I’ve always known is there, and I am not thinking about it too hard. A meditation teacher in a group I attend was recently discussing the idea that the heart has a brain—how the heart, in essence, has thousands more neurons than the brain, and these neurons can sense, feel, and learn. As I am a science fiction writer and not a scientist, I often share pseudo-scientific information I find fascinating, so feel free to research this on your own and try to debunk it if you must—but the idea that the heart knows things, and even more, knows things innately that the brain would have to think hard about to understand, is something we’re all familiar with.
My writing is most enjoyable—and I believe most successful—when I’m not really thinking about it, when I’m writing from my heart and spirit.
In contrast, editing is an experience of the inferior head-brain, a left-brain exercise that can feel more like math than art. It is a labor of love, but make no mistake, it is labor. It may be different for you—I know some writers who love editing. For me, yes, there are moments of clarification, even wow moments within the editing process, but for the most part, it is Work. It is spending ten minutes wondering whether to leave in or remove a comma. It is moving a paragraph or chapter to a different spot, connecting the pieces, then moving it back again. It is realizing a character’s dialogue isn’t realistic, or that the character lacks the catalyst to perform the action they are doing. It is reading through your entire manuscript for the fifteenth time as the words on the page began to blur, it is tossing and turning in bed, it is solving plot problems in the shower, it is self-doubt, it is asking ‘why am I doing this?’
Is it, perhaps, because of love?
Yes, it is.
I love writing.
But I do not love editing. I edit because I love writing.
Writing gets me drunk on love, gets me into a heart space. It keeps me sober, keeps me wide-eyed, keeps me on my toes, keeps me learning.
Today The Rise of Saint Fox and The Independence is officially released into the wild. Thanks so much to everyone for their support, especially the brilliant team at Unsolicited Press for all the time and hard work put into the book’s creation and promotion, and to Erin B. Lillis for the rockin’ cover art (and upcoming audiobook version)! Putting this book out into the world has been a goal I’ve worked hard towards over the past few years, and to see everything finally coalesce has been so fulfilling.
Some early review snippets:
“Reyburn’s speculative fiction rebels, recoils, and launches debates across the table.” – PR
“An absolute gem! Corin Reyburn writes speculative fiction to be read with great fervor.” – wordybirdy
“If rebellion is what you like, then you will LOVE Corin’s book. I read to the end and wanted more!” – Miriam L.
Want a rebel playlist to go with your rock n’ roll revolution? Saint Fox and The Independence is all about the power of good music, so here’s a YouTube playlist of some hot tunes that inspired the book.