I got my contributor copies of Fantasy & Science Fiction in the mail yesterday. I am surprised at how nice it feels. There’s something about being published in a place your parents have heard of that makes a person feel legitimized.
I was also surprised at how, rereading the story, I cringed at every second of it. Every mistake, every rough edge, every thing I wished I’d handled kind of differently just stands out so much to me seeing that it’s too late to do anything about it. I still laughed, though, so I think that’s a good sign.
This year has been a bear so far and I have been basically keeping my head down and powering through it and I’ve not been doing as much writing as I’d like to be doing.
So, it’s weird, at the same time that I had this big success, I’m still sitting on this novel no agent wants to represent, unsure of how to proceed. I’ve got a couple of stories out on submission and they’ve been out long enough that I should hear back any day if they’re rejected. I need to gut up and send the Metallica story back out.
That was one nice thing that I will hold in my heart about Hypericon is hearing a guy who’s been in the business a long, long time talking about how he still doesn’t know if he’s doing it right and how he still feels jealousy and confusion. That’s good to know. It’s not me floundering–or not only me floundering–it’s just part of what it means to be a writer.
I don’t know what I’m doing and I don’t know how to do better. It’s a relief to just admit that. I am floundering. But, it’s okay. I’m not trying to earn a living from writing at this point. I’m trying to figure out what works and to improve my abilities.
Also, I think the October stories are done! There’s going to be a musical component this year but I have to figure out how to work it, especially since one of the songs does not yet appear to be up on YouTube.
But I’m genuinely not sure I could have done this even ten years ago. Not just because I didn’t feel this same feeling of urgency–like I have to do it now or miss my shot–but because I don’t think I’d have been able to take the rejection, which even now, I do better about taking in theory than in actual practice.
And I’m still left to marvel over the weird situation that puts us in as a culture. How many good stories are we missing out on because the process for getting those stories out there is more than they can handle?
I guess, too, doing this kind of work is why I’m less than impressed by arguments that we have to keep Football Player X on the team even though he beats his wife because he’s got a once-in-a-generation talent or that we shouldn’t judge Famous Director Y because of the terrible things he did because think of his great art.
There are so many talented people in the world who don’t navigate through the fucked-up system. Who just live their lives. The idea that there’s only one is just…there’s not only one talent. There may be only one talent who could stand to work the system, but there’s not only one.
I guess what I’m dwelling on today is that writing is hard but it’s rewarding and pleasurable and eventually, I hope, you get a feel for what works. But the other part–knowing if you’re ready to submit, knowing how to submit correctly, persevering through a lot of “no”s, believing in your work even in the face of those “no”s, etc.–it’s also really hard.
So, shout out to all of us floundering in it.