The Kindest Cut of All

Another week, another rejection letter, but boy-oh-boy, what a rejection.
     ‘Twas lovely. Absolutely lovely.
     With comments like:

‘An odd story that seemingly violates the rules of plot, but works nonetheless. I will be thinking about this one for a while.’


‘Strangely, I don’t find this story depressing, which I would have expected given its content. (Although the thought of this story going up against mine for the national short story award _is_ depressing, for me.)’

Which, as I am sure you can see, really is yet another case of my submitting work to a market that wasn’t quite right. They liked it, but couldn’t find a place to publish it.
     Judging the market is still something I must master; I’ve had a fair few rejections now which were ‘We really liked it, but it isn;t quite right for us’ and I really, really, really should be reading more widely. My other writing project is somewhat preventing me from doing that, however; come March next year, though, all will change (well, hopefully).
     Hmm… I think the ‘problems judging the market’ comment is my most repeated issue…

Death Threats

So, someone accused me of writing a death note (I presume she meant a death threat, because the connotations of a ‘death note’ play out very differently in my mind)… Which, if a good friend of mine (and former flatmate) is correct in his assessment, is a drastic misinterpretation of a doodle committed whilst stuck on hold.
     Like most people, I’ve spent my time in the trenches of telephonic warfare, awaiting the signal from HQ to go over the top and actually speak to a salesperson or related ‘qualified’ tradesperson. Some people doodle when they are stuck in the intermidable wait that is the labyrinth of modern phone policy; I tend to write down pieces of dialogue or character ideas that wander through the muzak. I sometimes wonder whether I should go full time into the ringing of large corporations and multi-nationals; the horrible suspicion is that my idea hit rate might sky rocket (whilst my bank account will fall ever lower as I buy lawn furniture and a collection of ‘Massacred Gnomes’).
     I’ve been pondering for several years now a rather large issue in re my writing, which is that what I would really like to write about are all-powerful entities who can do almost anything they please, and make such a written testament a) worth reading and b) a character study. The problem I have is that all-powerful characters who can almost anything are rather boring to read (I feel, at least) as they, well, don’t face many issues other than which almighty superpower to use this time around. Thus I’ve worked out lots of dialogue and pieces of angsty thoughts for such characters (all powerful characters often become goths, if only for a dirty weekend in Soho; I actually want to avoid that (the goths, not the dirty weekend, which is another matter best not mentioned to the parents)) but not much in the way of a plot. The Servant stories have been my closest attempt to work this through, and it’s been a bit of a step forward and a loll backwards in achieving what I want. I’m especially interested in having all powerful characters kill other characters and make it interesting. Not by way of how they die but rather why, and for what expressed reason.
     Thus, if friend and (former-)flatmate is right then a few words that struck me (and they probably weren’t very good ones) whilst listening to yet another bad cover of ‘The Carpenters’, written down so as to become meaningless in a few days time when the context escapes me, have been taken as a threat of death… Which has a lot of virtue, I am sure, although it strikes me as almost entirely post-modern, seeing that the reader(s) read in a lot of information which I am sure wasn’t there in the first instance.
     It’d all be a lot funnier if I hadn’t also been told that I apparently barely escaped criminal charges for writing it…

For those of you wondering how the submission is going, then I can say that I know as much as you do. One rejection (almost six months late) for a zombie story I wrote a long while back; not entirely sure where I will send this one next. It is the Year of the Zombie (revised Chinese Chronology) and thus such stories will have a brief surge of popularity before the five or so ideas are wrung out (Still, wouldn’t mind turning the story into a novel one day). Otherwise, I await replies and work on my other major writing project, the thesis. Very little new fiction is being produced (on paper, at least). If only that ‘Spore’ story would sell…

Second Draft

The other night, when far too tired to work (long, long party…) on ‘For the Time After’ (which I may rename to ‘After You’ve Gone’) I wrote another of my ‘Stories I Should Never Write’ entitled ‘Post Mortem Rudeness.’ A delightful tale of zombie revenge from the grave. ‘Twas a straight run of writing the near one thousand words… And I’m not sure whether I should give it an edit.
     Traditionally these ‘quickies/shorties’ I write and then post; they’re writing exercises and little more. Yet I seem tempted to give this one a polish. Possibly because I think it could end, well, better (like that sentence). Possibly because there a few jokes I didn’t get to cram in. Mostly because it might be informative to post both the first draft and the second draft and see if anyone ever comments upon the differences… So, as an HORansome first, you get two versions of the same story (actually, if my files were complete this would have already happened; one of the ‘Servant’ stories that is missing, presumed lost, was, to my horror after the fact, a virtual retread of an earlier story). Read on and enjoy.

          Post Mortem Rudeness [First Draft] [Second Draft]

Hmm. Not sure whether the second draft really improves it…

Writing a Sequel to an Unsold Story

Good afternoon.
     I’m currently writing a thematic sequel to ‘Sympathy for the Enemy’ a story that I’m trying to sell to the Australasian market. It’s actually got a fairly good chance of acceptance (1 in 3, which is better betting odds than most; hurrah for informed decision making processes), but it’s not exactly a done deal, is it? So why, the bloody hell, am I writing another story related to it?
     Well, on one level you don’t need to have ever read ‘Sympathy for the Enemy’ to make sense of ‘For the Time After’ (well, that’s the plan). Also, it’s a thematic sequel (regular readers of this column will know my distaste of sequels…) and thus if the first story gets rejected the second can still be sent out into the wilderness…
     Which leads me to the big question; if ‘Sympathy of the Enemy’ does sell, do I submit the thematic sequel to the same magazine or send it elsewhere? I have two other story ideas set in the same milieu, one of which is straight horror and thus not really applicable to the market this unnamed magazine sits in. If I ever write this story then I can’t really send it in good conscience to the magazine in question (although if they were to take story one and two, then I could send the third (if it were the third) in with a ‘I know it really isn’t your kind of thing, but…’ note attached to it…)… It’s all rather worrying (the number of ‘…’ I have in this paragraph alone (along with my bracketted asides in bracketted asides)).
     Still, am actualy writing non-academic work, so life be good