Aiming the pistol at the foot

Despite all my bluster chivvying authors into brave faces, preaching that the un-achievable is attainable, when it comes to my own career as an author I tend to shrink back into the shadows. I have no idea why I do that. But I do. Always have. Call it a character flaw.

However, every now and again I emerge from my cave, or shell, or whatever, and decide, HEY! I can DO THIS! And I summon courage and analyze stories and send out submissions to magazines, collections and the like, keeping careful log of their journeys through an Excel spreadsheet (yes, yes, I know all about Obsessive Compulsion Disorder.)

The current attempt to shoot off my feet comes in the form of the call for submissions for the Tesseracts 18 anthology. I’ve been trying to break that market ever since Judy Merrill first launched it way back. No joy. And I doubt very much there will be joy this time, but the point is I’ve at least tried.

Lester B. Pearson, former Prime Minister of Canada, and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, once said: The only failures are those who fail to try.

Hon. Lester B. Pearson

So Lester, ol’ bean, old sport, I’m trying. I don’t hold out much hope. But to the best of my knowledge I’ve targeted the right story for the right market.

Of course, this comes on the heels of finding out all the primary round of rejections for the Fearful Symmetries anthology have taken place, and the remaining 355 stories are either still being considered, or have now been forwarded to editor, Ellen Datlow. In this case, no news is good news.

Now, there is a synchronicity about the fact I haven’t heard thing one as yet regarding my submission to that heady anthology, because back in the day when Omni was the nirvana of short speculative fiction (I was at Clarion the year Ted Chiang made his first short story sale with the first short story he’d ever written, which was to none other than Ellen Datlow at Omni) I had dreams of maybe, one day, breaking into that market, of having someone like Ellen Datlow pat me on the head and reward my closet scribblings with publication. Alas, it never happened.

Ellen Datlow

But here the gyre curves round again, and I find myself in six degrees of separation.

Dear god, there are days I truly wonder why I do this? Why do I peck at the keyboard, dreaming dreams of people and places, of hurt and triumph, of destinies and deeds? Why answer the sibilant whispers in my head who constantly narrate stories for which I am but a vehicle? I don’t know.

But somewhere between editing other authors’ stories, creating print layouts, rounds of meetings and discussions and all the trappings of being a publisher, I still pursue this calling of being a story-teller. Keep writing. Just keep writing. And the foot? Ack. It will heal.

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