Friday, July 27, 2007

To trunk, or not to trunk?

Most short story writers have them: stories you've written that you think are quite OK (or better than that), but that still don't sell. They get rejected: with forms, or quite often encouragingly with personal notes that come down to: 'close, but no cigar'. They keep getting rejected, until the markets you thought were suitable for it have been exhausted.

Of course, in most cases this probaly is because your piece of genius isn't quite so good. And while this is a very tough call to make for a writer, sometimes your story gets bounced not because it sucked, but because the markets weren't ripe for it.

*Ducks as an avalanche of rotten tomatoes comes in*

I know: in the utmost majority of the cases it is because the story just wasn't good enough. But there are a rare few ones where it *is*, or at least that is what you -- the tunnel-visioned writer -- can't help but believe.

So you don't totally trunk your story, but keep it on hold, and stealthily wait until the right market comes along. And as you regularly check Ralan and Duotrope and other sources, sometimes you come across one, and bingo! (Well, not quite always. But sometimes: I've had it happen to me once before).

I have four such stories: stories I can't help but keep believing in myself (and I have trunked over two dozen: most were learning experiences, and some I know are sub-par. Quite sub-par). That number has now dropped to three (and another one had a near-miss: this one has the added disadvantage of being 15K long).

Indeed, a sale!

Thing is, in this case it took some time before the coin dropped. Ahmed A. Kahn -- whose short-short "Elevator Episodes in Seven Genres" is now out in Interzone #211 -- is editing a second anthology (the first one, Fall and Rise, is out from Whortleberry Press) about SF and philosophy, tentatively called SF Waxes Philosophical.

It took me a while to realise that one of my 'on hold' stories was steeped in philosophy (and much more besides). Also, as far as I know Ahmed only mentioned this anthology on the Asimov's boards and his own journal.

Anyway, I sent the story to Ahmed this Friday, and it was accepted a few hours later.

And while payment is one copy of the anthology, it's not bad to be in the company of Mike Bishop, Steven Utley and Matt Hughes.

So that leaves three stories that I still think should be published. Here's one for writerly doggedness!

1 comment:

Gareth D Jones said...

Just... can't...abandon...story... (collapses in gibbering heap on floor)...