Wednesday, June 7, 2017

IWSG: The Dangers of "Just," Podcast, & Links

It's IWSG day! I almost posted last Wednesday, thinking it was June already. Luckily, I caught myself just in time.

Before I jump into IWSG, I was interviewed again, this time by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. I'll be speaking at their writer's conference this coming fall. Mark Stevens was great fun to talk to, and we discussed Deconstructing Horror, my post and the workshop I'd recently done for RMFW. You can find the episode 86 podcast for Rocky Mountain Writer HERE.


Now onto the Insecure Writer's Support Group, which takes place the first Wednesday of each month. Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, this is your chance to air some insecurities and offer support to your fellow writers.

This month's co-hosts are JH Moncrieff, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Jen Chandler, Megan Morgan, and Heather Gardner!

Anyone is welcome to join. Just sign up at the website linked above.

My insecurities frequently lead me to add the word "just" to things I say. "I just write short stories." "I just write horror." "I've just been published in short stories." "I've just been published x number of times." "I'm just a writer."

"Just" is a completely unnecessary modifier, and definitely an unnecessary self-judgment. What I've learned in the last year or so is that no one else is using that word when they speak about what I've done, so why am I?

I know I'm not the only one who does this, as I've frequently caught other writers doing so. So to all of you who do the same in an attempt to lower yourself before someone else can (which would hurt far more, yes?) stop using "just" to describe yourself. You're not "just" a writer, poet, etc. You ARE a writer, a poet, a screenwriter.

It matters. We shouldn't be diminishing ourselves. Instead, set lofty goals. Then meet them. And own them.

The optional question of the month is whether I've ever said "I quit," and what brought me back to writing if I did. At this point, no, though there have been times I've considered it. At the same time, over a decade ago I tried to submit a couple short stories. They were rejected, which back then meant my manuscript returned in the SASE I'd sent with it, and a several page listing of submission guidelines and possible reasons for rejection. I submitted two stories, each to one place, then gave up once the rejections came back. It wasn't conscious; I simply didn't bother to submit anymore. Plus, I was working full time and attending college, all while going through some serious medical treatments, which included surgeries, so even if they'd been accepted I wouldn't have written and submitted more until years later, when I did so anyway. I did still fiddle around with writing when I had the down-time. There just wasn't much of it, and since I hadn't decided to make a career of it, I didn't make it something I MADE time for.


Each month I post my stats for the previous month to keep myself accountable.

Submitted 6 stories (1 to a publication I was requested to submit a story to)
Got 7 rejections.
Not much going on this month!


Now for some links.

Accepting Submissions:

The Literary Hatchet is accepting dark short stories, poetry, art, and essays for their next issue. 1000 to 6000 words. Pays up to $10. Deadline July 1.

Red Room Magazine is accepting dark extreme horror and crime fiction short stories. Up to 4000 words. Pays $.03/word. Deadline July 1.

Spring Song Press is accepting fantasy short stories, preferably noblebright ones. Must address the theme "Still Waters." 2500 to 10,000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline July 1.

The Lascaux Review is accepting literary stories, poems, and essays. Pays $100.

Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things is accepting flash fiction, short stories, poetry, and creative non-fiction. Must be appropriate for ages 10 to 18. They also take submissions from kids 10 and up. Up to 12,000 words. Pays $.02/word.

Black Ice Magazine is accepting Cyberpunk speculative fiction. 1000 to 6000 words. Near future. 1000 to 6000 words. Pays $5 to $10.

Strange Fictions is accepting short speculative fiction, poetry, reviews, and essays. 1000 to 10,000 words. Pays $5 to $10.

Do you find yourself qualifying your successes? What are your insecurities? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.


  1. Hi Shannon,
    I've used that word 'just' also and now that I think about it, it is kind of like apologising for what is a core part of my being. Thanks for mentioning that.
    Wishing you all the best at the RMFW Conference. I'm a member since April but will not be attending the conference because I plan to attend the Women's Fictional Festival in Matera, Italy.
    Wishing you all the best.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Everything Must Change

  2. I use "just" all the time when referring to my writing. (Drives my husband crazy!) It's funny, because I notice that most people rarely use "just" when referring to their own work, their jobs, their careers, etc. I wonder why a lot of us do that?

  3. "Just" is one of those words (like "worry", "always" and "never") that's hard to eliminate. But I've been working on it for years and have almost completely buried that particular pest.

  4. "Just" is a sneaky little word that seems harmless, but really isn't.

  5. And now you are a submitting machine.
    Just likes to sneak in there, doesn't he?

  6. We can sure beat ourselves up with "just," can't we? I know I've used that word to describe what I do. I'm trying to be more confident but not using it and lowering what I am and what I do. :)

  7. You're so right about "just." I know I use it far too often. I'm going to try to catch myself when I start to do it and break the habit.
    Congrats on another interview!

  8. Well said--about 'just'. We are ordered, when editing, to remove mitigating words like 'a little', 'tried', and 'just'. So why not in our personal profile?

  9. Good for you! We really need to stop justifying and belittling our own success.

    For me, this has been a struggle. Whenever something great happens and people tell me I deserve it, I'm tempted to say, "Well, I don't know about that..." But I don't. I've stopped.

    I once posted an article about why women don't tend to speak up in meetings. It was all about how women are raised to be humble and self-effacing, and how that hurts us in the workforce. Well, someone gave me royal shit in the comments, saying that I'm always doing that, qualifying compliments and putting myself down. That was a big shock to me. Since then, I've made a conscious effort to own my success and not be ashamed of it.

  10. I use just all the time, just not in speaking...only in my writing. I had to do a Word "search" in my last manuscript to find "just". Over 50!!!

  11. Anything positive that happens in relation to my writing is chalked up as a huge success. That's the only way I can keep going.

  12. Thanks for the pep-talk. I ended up telling someone I have a published series out there, and found myself lowering my eyes as I did so. At his reaction, I know I should have been proud and owned the fact like a boss, but I'm with you. It's hard sometimes.

  13. Oh I love this! I've found myself doing that, except I never play down the "horror" part. That always gets some interesting responses. Some are really funny but others are rather insulting. My favorite are when people look at me, up and down, and then say, "YOU? Write HORROR?" Like I should be some burly, creepy basement dwelling guy or something? It's truly funny but I refuse to play it down with a just. Besides, it's much too much fun to scare people ;)

    Thanks for the encouragement and for the links!

  14. Great point. Oddly enough, the closest I come to marketing myself is that I don't say "just" a writer when describing myself. I do, however, use the word all too frequently otherwise (sigh).
    As always, I'm amazed by your ambition and successes thereof ;-)

  15. Just turned the calendar from May to June not too long ago, right? July is waiting behind, ready to go.

  16. You're right: 'just' is a junk word. We shouldn't use it to describe ourselves. We shouldn't use it in our writing either, which I'm guilty of, but I struggle mightily. :)
    Thanks for the links, as always.

  17. So long as my wife enjoys my writing, I consider it a success. That's all the validation I need to keep going:)

  18. "Just" is a word that I'd like to eliminate from my vocabulary. It is overused, and yes, I do the same thing "just" a _______. Ack. Good job on all the submitting and creating!

  19. Accountability always helps. I need to eliminate "just" from my self-talk and public talk, too. I'm "just" self-published except for that one novella and some short stories ... agh. I really need to rewire my brain on that last part.
    Happy writing and submitting in June! (I had some very nicely worded rejection letters but no takers this last month.)

  20. We writers do seem to have trouble owning our successes. I think it's because we always think we're nobodies next to the "big names." Oh, I'm not a 'real' writer like So-and-So, we think. We "just" write [fill in the blank]. I've been working on reminding myself of my own worth.

  21. This post reminded me of a time I left my husband a voicemail saying it's just me. He called back and said please don't ever refer myself to "Just anything ever again.
    You are so right, so was he. We are writers!

  22. Hi Shannon - clever post ... which is encouraging one and all ... the 'just' word ... I blog - end of story ... just now I'll do the dishes! Love Doreen's comment!

    But you're great the way you set out publications accepting submissions, while also making yourself accountable on the blog ... good luck - cheers Hilary

  23. Brilliant post! I love how you remind us all to be wary of the the word "just" and how we use it to diminish our own accomplishments.

  24. I got rid of just as it was just bothering me just enough lol maybe I can still use it though

  25. Okay, I'm done diminishing myself. Great advice.

  26. Your post for IWSG made me smile at how many times and in how many ways I minimize what is possible. But I finally can say, "I'm a writer," without wincing! Kudos to you for encouraging us all to set those "lofty goals" and then including links to motivate us. Thank you.

  27. "Just" isn't a very good modifier, considering how many people say they could never write an entire book or story, and how many people want to write but never do.

  28. Being proud of our profession doesn't come easy, esp. if you're a woman. We're taught not to boast, to be demure, etc. It's easier to belittle ourselves. If we were in another profession, would we do this? I'm just a teacher, engineer, nurse. I don't think so. Promoting ourselves is hard, too. We need to suck it up and just do it.

  29. "Just" is one of my crutch words in prose - I never thought about it in terms of describing myself. It is an easy way to hedge opinions, but you can cut yourself down.

    ("But" is my biggest crutch word)

  30. I definitely find it easy to play down what I do. That isn't "just"! Thanks for the inspiring post!