Friday 18 October 2019

What? No hoover on the Millennium Falcon?

I was going to blog about how distracting and off-putting in general references in fantasy to things rooted in the real world are, and specifically a reference to 'French sleeves' in a recent (to me, that is - I think it may have been season 3) episode of Game of Thrones.  However, I've decided against it as a) it's already out there, b) apparently it's a mishearing - like hell, it is!, and c) I'm six years behind the curve.  As ever.

So, instead, I'll stick to news hot off the press that my story 'The Root Canals of Mars' has gone live on Harbinger Press website.  Enjoy!

Wednesday 2 October 2019

No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

Regular readers will be aware that few of these posts relate to my so-called writing career, for the simple reason that I tend to only blog narcissistically when I have something to announce, such as the publication of a new piece.  Which leads to a distinct paucity of postings of that nature.

I thought I'd make the punchline clear to save you the bother.

If you're in the short genre fiction game you have to be resilient.  It's a school of hard knocks - or, rather, frequent, short, bland rejection emails.  I'll cover the numbers in my end of year report, but I'm currently running at 4 acceptances for 154 submissions.  And that's off the back of a year when I tried to average a submission a day, so there was a surge of pitches from me in 2018 that were only ever due to fall back to earth, regardless of their fate, in 2019.

Most of the time I'm sanguine about the knock-backs, and philosophical about the scattering of successes - even they don't always bear fruit.  (God knows what's happened to James Gunn's Ad Astra.  It was slated for March, then August.  It's now October, and the home page is just a banner and a blank screen.  I've been paid for my story, which went through innumerable rewrites, that's due to appear there, but that's not the point.)

But, I'll be honest: I'm having a difficult October.  Seven rejections already (it's only the 2nd as I type), plus another than can be assumed as rejected according to the guidelines in a day or so.  AnalogAsimov's, Daily Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Escape Pod; all apart form Analog and DSF within a day or so.  Throw in rejections from Clarkesworld and Fantasy & Science Fiction in the last few hours of September and you have some macabre professional-rate royal flush.

I'd make the classic error of getting my hopes up.  I'd just had my second consecutive silver honorable from Writers of the Future: a 14,300 word tale of the madness that can be caused by innocently taking a cutting of an unfamiliar plant; a triptych set in the 19th, 20th and 21st Centuries.  I'd written it to win Writers of the Future, and I know that I should take heart in being in the top 25 out of thousands, but all I sense is missing that rope that coulda pulled me up by my fingertips and falling back into the abyss.

I completely hold my hand up to the fact that that length of story is a tricky sell.  The Grinder only lists nine markets for sci-fi that pay over $0.03 per word at that length, some of which don't fit the story.  A lot of investment for very few tickets in the lottery.  And suddenly three are already used up - Asimov's and Clarkesworld both passed in a day.  It clearly didn't even pique their interest. 

It's enough to make you wonder why you bother: statistically, the chance of my laughing about this posting in a year with Letterman, Corden or Noah is remote.  But, to give up is to guarantee failure.

To quote Beckett, "No matter.  Try again.  Fail again.  Fail better."