For some time I have been close to the next level of success in my writing. Finalist in this or that, shortlisted for this and that, a positive review in New Pages, a little money here and there. But I had yet to publish in a journal recognized as one of the “top,” or win (or even be nominated for) a substantial prize, or sell anything to a publisher for a substantial sum. I wasn’t bitter–I am sincerely happy that there are so many talented people out there, and I am enjoying writing so much that I will continue regardless (you have been warned). But I was beginning to wonder.
Turns out all those clichés about persistence and it only takes one person are true. Also the “kill your darlings” thing. The editors of a new speculative fiction magazine, Spectacle, liked my story, “Gutman to the Rescue,” and are paying me the substantial sum of $500 to publish it in an upcoming issue!
As usual, this story had been making the rounds, slowly spiraling down from better paying to less well paying to free, for some time. Fortunately, editors at one low-paying journal told me I needed to axe large portions of the piece in order to streamline the pacing. Although those editors eventually rejected the streamlined version, I am indebted to them because the story went on to find favor at Spectacle.
Of course, I feel grateful and validated. But this tale is also a reminder of how random the whole process is. So much depends on luck and chance, and the story could just as easily have met a less prestigious fate. I am reminded that I am writing because it is what I have always wanted to do and because I have things to say and an active imagination. Everything else, welcome and unwelcome, is secondary.