Sunday, July 23, 2006

Countin' up the words & a pledge

Lee Battersby started it, and then Martin Livings applied the ol' electric bolts of life. Yes, it's a 'what's lurking in my short story folder?' meme.

I'm not going to list all the titles, word counts and dates, but a quick scan of my work-in-progress folder reveals the following:

13 files, each with a story idea (Usually just one sentence)
9 files, each with the outline of a story (Several sentences)
12 files, each with a story fragment (Just paragraphs out of the blue)
37 files, each with the beginning of a story (Many over half complete)
7 files, each with an almost-finished story
23 files, each with a completed story, ranging from 1500 words up to 10,000

So, with all that stuff sitting around, why haven't I polished them up and sent them off?

Because, in most cases, they're junk. The most recent is dated 4 or 5 years ago, and even a cursory glance shows me it needs a complete rewrite. The oldest stuff is laughable. (I do have a folder called 'Old Junk' which I daren't open. Picture the tomb full of snakes in Raiders of the Lost Ark.)

The mistake many writers make is to try and get everything they've ever scribbled into print. It's like a concert pianist who records every practice session, and then sets up shop to flog all those recordings. Wouldn't it be better to sell your best performances, and keep the bum notes and flaky pieces well hidden? Same with photographers, who select the best and ditch the rest.

I've only seen half a dozen of my stories published, and I picked those carefully from the false starts and half-completed stuff you see in the list above. Three or four of the completed stories went out to 2 markets, and were rejected.

Anyway, dredging through my WIP folder turned up half a dozen stories I wouldn't mind rewriting, or at least pinching ideas from. Now Spacejock is in print I need another challenge, and trying to get a short story into a top flight Spec Fic market has that climb-Everest-without-personal-danger appeal to it. After all, I still have a sheet of US postal stamps for the rejection letters ;-)

All right, here's the pledge: I'm going to submit short fiction to US markets until my stamps run out. (13 left)

I'll report everything here, including details on the stories I've sent out, where I've sent them, and what the rejection letters said. I don't care who rejects me or what they say - I'm going to report it.

One proviso: If my publisher demands Hal Spacejock books 4-6 yesterday, this pledge idea is toast.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

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