Recently, I acquired a copy of “Playing the Short Game” by Douglas Smith via Storybundle. I honestly haven’t read the other books in the bundle yet, because this book was a game changer for me. It helped me formalize my own suspicions on the kind of writer I have been up to this point, what I’ve been doing wrong, and how to move forward.
The book is not about the craft of writing. That’s mechanics, and there are plenty of other books on the subject. What the book is about – and it’s specific to short fiction, and favors the genres I favor – is how to identify the kind of writer you are, how to persevere in the submission game, and what to do when you finally stack the odds in your favor.
I can honestly say I’ve taken the points of the book to heart (or at least my interpretation of the points). Stories are now going out as soon as I get a rejection notice; I’m only submitting to professional markets (to be treated like a professional, you need to be published like one); I’m taking the time to revise my stories before I send them out. This last one is something I actually started a month or three ago, but its an important one. It’s also on the front of my mind as I go through a pile of stories I never submitted, or only submitted once, and revise them.
This is where my open apology comes in.
I would like to apologize to Cat Rambo, Neil Clarke, Sara Ellis, Scott Andrews, Sheila Williams, and all of the other editors, readers, and folks that put up with my submissions in past years. I made the worst of worst mistakes, from Fantasy Magazine (back in the day) and Clarkesworld to Asimov’s and Beneath Ceaseless Skies and more – I sent out stories that I didn’t re-read, didn’t revise. I honestly thought that the words that flowed from my fingers were perfect in the order they came out the first time.
Now here I sit with stories that I think can be cleaned up into something salable. Versions of these stories have already gone out to these editors (and more), which means my markets are fewer. But if I hadn’t been such impetuous writer at the start, I might have a better chance now.
Luckily, there are more stories, new stories, that haven’t been written yet, waiting for me to share the space opera tales of the Occulted Sun, or the thrilling adventures of a girl that serves as a hit man for the Moth Queen, Ganymede. Buckle in, because I’ve got some writing to do.
Seems like an apropos time for some Ray Bradbury Theater introduction sequence…