Anyway, that's not what I came here to talk to you about. I came to talk about my short fiction writing. Every resource I turn to tells me that I need to establish myself as an author of short stories and novelettes before I can even start thinking about publishing a novel. But every short story I've submitted has been rejected. Here, take a look, I've kept records. In this digital age, an aspirant writer doesn't get paper rejection slips anymore; we just get e-mails. Or nothing at all. But I've kept electronic track of my submissions and this is the long (er, short) sad litany:
1. Tues, 12/11/12 - Daily Science Fiction ("The Maze," 770 words) - REJECTED
2. Sun, 12/23/12 - Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine ("Incommunicado," 3,440 words) - REJECTED
3. Fri, 1/4/13 - Daily Science Fiction ("Liquid Courage," 1,140 words) - REJECTED
4. Wed, 1/16/13 - Fantastic Frontiers ("Liquid Courage," 1,140 words) - NEVER HEARD BACK
5. Fri, 2/8/13 - Daily Science Fiction ("Plea Bargain," 1,130 words) - REJECTED
6. Fri, 4/19/13 - Daily Science Fiction ("The Time Gun," 2,830 words) - REJECTED
7. Thurs, 6/03/13 - Daily Science Fiction ("The First Twenty-Five Years," 1,740 words) - SECOND ROUND OF REVIEW - REJECTED
8. Fri, 6/26/13 - Daily Science Fiction ("Only One Boot," 980 words) - REJECTED
9. Wed, 8/14/13 - 3LBE ("Liquid Courage," 1,140 words) - REJECTED 9/11/13
10. Wed, 8/14/13 - Space Squid ("The Time Gun," 2,830 words) - REJECTED 11/15/13
11. Thurs, 1/23/14 - Asimov's Science Fiction ("Plea Bargain," 1,130 words) - REJECTED 1/29/14
12. Wed, 1/29/14 - Asimov's Science Fiction ("The First Twenty-Five Years," [R] 2,700 words) - REJECTED 2/1/14
13. Wed, 1/29/14 - Ace and Roc Science Fiction & Fantasy ("Revival," 112,000 words) -
14. Mon, 2/10/14 - Daily Science Fiction ("The First 25 Years," [R] 2,700 words) - REJECTED 3/4/14
As you can see, I'm still waiting for word on my novel manuscript. I submitted it in late January, and the Ace & Roc website informed me that I can expect to wait five months for a response. In the meantime, I'm shopping for agents. I should really start doing that more energetically, actually...
But getting back to the main point: I haven't written nearly as many stories as I should, much less submitted them anywhere. I just keep sending in the same tired old drivel that seem puerile and stale when I look back on it now. Some of them I've rewritten (that's what the "[R]" means in that last entry), but that doesn't change the fact that they suck—as the continued rejections indicate. Only one of my stories has even made the second round of review. Granted, I haven't submitted that many, but that opens up a whole new can of worms: I'm working a job that gives me four months off every year. Most writers would kill to have a schedule like that. What use am I making of it?
I need to write some new stuff. A lot of it. Short stories, novelettes, even a novella or two, maybe. Good stuff. Fresh stuff. Mature stuff. Stuff that gets me published and makes me into the sci-fi writer I think I am.
So I've got an idea. One of my other writer-blogger friends posted an exciting article on Facebook the other day. Amtrak is going to start offering free rides to writers. Imagine that: a snug berth, a bottle of wine, a good view out the window, and a laptop (or a notepad and pen, if you're Paul Theroux). Intoxicating idea, no?
So I'm going to do it. A "writer's retreat." Instead of spending my evenings plugging defenseless animals on Deer Hunter 2014 or watching Almost Human, I'm going to write. For a week. For as many hours as I can. If I get stuck on one story, I'll start another. That's one thing that, thankfully, I'm never at a loss for: inspiration. Give me a pen and a notepad and in five minutes I'll come up with some killer ideas. It's executing them properly, with fresh angles and unique perspective, that's more difficult. Hell, not all of the stuff I churn out may be science fiction, either. I might try some historical fiction or even straight-up mainstream contemporary fic. Who knows? It'd be good to take the shackles off, remove the filters between my brain and fingers, and just see what flows out from under my fingernails. Worth a try, right? Then I'll have a fresh batch of stories, character-driven and lyrically written, which will perhaps be more along the lines of what DSF or Asimov's are looking for.
I'll let you know when I begin.
Wish me luck...