13 March 2012

Your Shoelaces Are Untied

024 of 365Yesterday, I was on the bus and I overheard someone telling this guy that his shoe laces were untied. The guy with the shoelace problem looked up at his outer indignantly as if he had just been accused of farting. He didn't say a word in respond, just ignored the guy.

It made me think of an email I received from a literary magazine editor who had rejected my story. When I received the rejection notice, I decided to cave in and ask him why he rejected it. If you can believe it, I received a response.

Here's what he said:

I thought this story lost some steam in the middle section, when [the main character's] wandering around town. The descriptions of what he’s seeing are presented in a passive manner; [the main character is] a passive creature so I suppose this does fit the character, but I think the prose could use some sharpening, otherwise the audience may lost interest crossing the bridge from the beginning to the confrontations he gets in at the end.
And you know what? He was right. I knew it. But for a moment I felt like the guy on the bus. Even though the guy on the bus knew his shoes were untied...sometimes it really sucks to be told about obvious issues we are having. The guy on the bus knew there was a problem and really didn't want to fix it. When I first submitted the story, I'll be honest, I had a faint idea that this particular scene he described had some issues. I just hoped that the rest of the story was enough to carry the reader forward.

150709 Zoofiti

But I was wrong. I needed to tie my shoes. I needed to fix that scene. So, I have gone back and I rewrote that section and even took out a few parts. I have resubmitted it to another publisher and this time...this time I hope it comes out with a different result.

swoop, loop, and pull.

If the shoes in your story are untied, never forget that it's tough for all of us writers to take criticisms.  Just take a look at this post by Aimee Salter, where she asks, "Writers: Are You Your Own Worst Enemy?" And she's right...we can be sometimes get in our own way. I was with this story. And it's important to recognize when you need to face the reality and tie your shoes.

Today, make sure you tie your shoes before you get off the bus. Because even though you may be sort of frustrated that someone noticed, sometimes it's for the best that you pay attention to what they have to say.

A little bit of pink

So here's me looking out for you:

Hey, your shoe laces are untied!


  1. Great post. :)

    Kudos for having the guts to respond to a rejection. If it's a form, I usually just add it to the pile and give the story a once over myself to see if I can divine what's wrong unassisted. But sometimes we need to be told about those shoelaces, and the next best thing to an acceptance is a rejection with some quality personal feedback.

  2. Thanks J.W.! I had been like that for a long time with that story and finally with this latest rejection I was determined to know what was wrong with it. I had faced way too many rejections on this story to ignore that anymore. NOW I hope all this work pays off - I want this story to be published somewhere!

  3. Wonderful analogy.

    In order to see the bits and pieces of my written crap, I have to set it down for awhile with new eyes so to speak. When I'm writing, it all looks and sounds beautiful.

  4. This is a great post and it's lesson can be applied to many different aspects of life. Aren't you the brilliant one to put that all together from a guy who didn't want to tie his shoes?


  5. Great post! so true! It is hard sometimes to take criticism, but if it is sincere and correct, then we should take the advice. Usually an inner voice can sometimes give us a clue before we submit something...like what happened to you. And I'm glad you took the advice and made the correction. Nicole, good luck on your story! Take care!

  6. love it -- great analogy. OFten indeed as writers are shoes are untied and we can just plain trip over them.

    I'm probablyl dumb but don't see a challenge 7 thing...?


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