On Writing and Neuroses
I have often said that if one were not insane when one started writing, attempting to get one's work published will certainly drive over the cliff. My latest ups and downs... the publishers who had acepted my short story, Peaceful Conclusions
, for their anthology have decided that anthology sales are not doing well, even though their past anthologies have won Eppies, and that they are no longer going to be publishing anthologies.
This is reminiscient of various publications that I have written for and which folded after some months or even just before my article was supposed to be published. Not to mention the children's book publisher that went out of business -- TWICE! -- before I could send back my signed contract. Or the one who is holding onto my first novel manuscript; it's been three and a half years now, though they consistently tells me that they are indeed still considering it. (I know it's on the long side, but really, if it's taking them that long to read it, well, we'd better not go there...)
Of course, the worst part is the waiting. Waiting to hear back from magazine editors, agents, publisers, contests. It's like the life cycle of the butterly, only sort of mixed up. You start as a caterpillar -- growing like crazy (ok, your manuscript growing like crazy, but you get the idea.) Then you go into cocoon state, let the juices stew around a bit, and emerge as a larvae. (I told you it was rather mixed up.) Then you edit like crazy until you are ready to go back into your chrysalis. Only you don't decide when -- or even if! -- you are going to emerge. You hang out, at first expecting succour at any moment. Then you start dozing off; it's rather dull in a chrysalis. If things are really bad, your knight in shining armor (pardon the mixed metaphor...) will email you saying, I'm sending this off to the editorial board, or I think the executive editor will really like this, or can you send me the full manuscript, before he disappears into the sunset for another three (or four or five) months. If you're lucky he'll come back. If not, you never hear another peep, or perhaps he'll hail you from a distant hilltop -- alas, I pass.
Of course, that is all balanced out by the acceptances. The glory of seeing one's words in print. Or better yet, of having someone tell you, I really enjoyed that piece you wrote. Ah heaven. Money's not bad either, when you can finagle it.
In my own personal saga of ups and downs, the publisher who just said no to anthologies offered to publish the story as a stand alone offering as a part of a new publishing program of short stories and novellas that they are starting. Now I have to dedice if I want to be on the ground floor of this new program, and if it's going to be worth the time/nervous energy/nailbiting/daily (or hourly!) trips to the publishers equivalent of statcounter, etc. It would be pretty cool, and I think the publisher has got a decent reputation. Plus they publish Piers Anthony and some other big name authors so they should have more pull than some small publishers. Of course, it doesn't qualify for sfwa, but that's not the only standard in the sky. And it might not make me enough money to take my kids to see the next Harry Potter film (I mean movie 5, I saw movie 4 today.), but what the heck, it just might.