At the risk of sounding overly dramatic I have to say, the hulking mass of my printed novel, the stack of printer paper inches high with two pages to a sheet weighs on me. I see it resting on the desk every day and it weighs on my eyes. I touch it and I feel it's importance in my chest: the years I spent planning it and the months I spent writing it.
In the past few months, since I began teaching and grad school, I haven't worked on it lick. I asked myself once, because I finished, printed it and announced it done, does that mean I've forgotten about it? Does having it on the page put it out of my mind? I certainly don't think often about short stories I've already written. Once they're done I have to force myself to edit them and after that they only cross my mind when I get a rejection letter and have to find another magazine to send them to. The thought that I forget a story once I've written it distresses me because that seems to me like the sign of an amateur writer, one who writes for personal catharsis and not with the intent of communication through publication. Not that there's anything wrong with writing for catharsis, it's just not my goal. There is without doubt a strong feeling of release and accomplishment whenever a project is finished. Whenever I get something published it's just icing on the cake, a fond and celebratory remembrance of that thing I created months back. But the real reward for me comes when I finish something, revised, revised again, edited and polished.
When I finished the first draft of my novel, you can bet your butt I was happy. I felt the weight of the story lift off my shoulders. It had been told. But as the days pass, that weight settles back on me. It's not done yet. No one has read my story. So is it on the page and out of mind? No. It's on the page and on my mind and hopefully soon I'll figure out a way to get it back on my schedule.
Until next time, I'm Eric and I'm an unpublished writer.
Though I'll be the first to admit that I haven't been able to write nearly as much as I want to of late, I have still been able to send completed works out to magazines. I wrote "Bodies Like Long Glances" in late May of this year and first sent it out on the third of June to Everyday Fiction, a well-established (for an e-zine) that offers a token payment for stories under 1000 words and is known for offering constructive criticism to every story (or at least, every story I've sent them). In their rejection letter, I got to see the conversation of two slush readers and an editor as they discussed its good and bad points. One of the readers really liked it, the other didn't. The editor was on the fence and therefore, decided to pass. That came through in August.
Next I sent it to Daily Science Fiction
, a market that duotrope
labels as fledgling. They do offer professional payments, but since they're so new I doubt there are a lot of people reading it. Anyway, they got back to me pretty quickly (early September) with a rejection. It sat on the hard drive for a little while before I sent it to 365 Tomorrows toward the end of the month and they got back to me right away with an acceptance and in their acceptance letter asked to see more of my stuff. Definitely a good sign. This time last year, Oct 4th, 2009, I was published on their site with the story Why I Hate the Colonists
So for today and today only my story will be on the front page of http://www.365tomorrows.com/
. After that it can be found in the archives with the link above. I hope you all enjoyed that brief glimpse into a stories journey from my hard drive to your computer screen. Only three submissions isn't typical (I have stories that I've submitted to nearly 20 'zines without success) but I thought this would be a good forum for exploring that process. Enjoy the story!
Until next time, I'm Eric and I'm trying really friggin' hard to be a professional author.