Wednesday, September 07, 2005

spit and polish

I've been invited to submit stories for consideration to a "hush-hush" short fiction pub populated by amazing authors. Since I had no real new pieces, I polished up a couple of older ones (written a few months ago) and sent them off. Neither of them fit into my speculative fiction agenda thingie, but you know, I don't write in that mode exclusively anyway (or actually, I could argue that they're interstitial whatever, but naaaah).

Both stories were developed and written almost completely on this blog (I've retitled one), which fulfills the "exercise notebook" part of my blog's reason for existence. While most people of my age deplore the loss of the pen, I now praise the age of the laptop - I'm certain that I wouldn't be writing as often if I had to sit down and scrawl something down on paper with my chicken scratch handwriting (my hand aches within minutes, and it becomes a matter of physical inability, or rather, my low tolerance for repeated painful activity).

So are the stories good enough? As the author who constantly advises friends to "never fall in love with your text", I can at least say that they're competitive. They're small experiments in form and tone, but I think my voice is still there. Julian Barnes (author of Flaubert's Parrot), on writing: "Don't do it assuming that the result will ever satisfy you." Which explains in part why I am never truly happy with anything I write. I've just learned to let go after a while, because I cannot spit and polish the same piece all my life (my wife and my friends can tell you how I cringe when faced with my early work).

Besides, in situations like this it all boils down to the selecting editor's taste. As usual, if my stories aren't accepted, it is not the end of the world. There are other markets to try, and I am never one to be devastated by initial rejection.

Someone asked me "Aren't you guaranteed publication, being an awardee and all?". I just had to laugh. Remember, awards and shit are nice and all, but mean nothing when you're talking about your latest story being polished and sent off for consideration. Especially for US publications where your national level credentials mean nothing at all.

What matters is the story - which is how things should be. I love the competition.


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