19 November 2011

Update on Stories

My quest to be a published author of static fiction continues. Of 7 updates since October, 6 rejections and 1 problematic publication. So, another slew of stories to send out, I suppose...

A Ruined House - rejected for reprinting 14 Oct
Teiselwalk's Bridge - rejected 17 Oct
Brochure Found Near Storm Drain - rejected 20 Oct
Jabeld's Casket - rejected 23 Oct
Mosquito-Things - rejected 12 Nov
Pennies of Doom - published 14 Nov
The Pendant of Zeklin Kha- rejected 19 Nov

Of all of these, I was particularly impacted by the rejection of "Mosquito-Things" from the Innsmouth Free Press. I thought for sure it'd find a good home there, especially given the focus of its impact is on what I think is real cosmic horror, rather than this catch-penny, be-tentacled "Lovecraftian" sentiment that misconstrues the Gentleman from Providence as some sort of cephalopodphobe or something. I did discover it's possible to almost get thrown out of a bar for ranting about misconceptions of H.P. Lovecraft. C'est la vie. I'm sure the folks at the IFP are a cultured bunch with higher standards than my literary sheddings can yet achieve. Well... some day, perhaps.

I've been quite surprised at the rejection of "Mosquito-Things" from every place I've sent it to, actually. I think the story itself is well-written every time I re-read it, and I've gotten nothing but positive feedback from other readers-- even in rejection letters, it would seem. Why can't this story find a home?

I did get one story published-- "Pennies of Doom." It's another crypt thief story, the second to be published at Flashes in the Dark. Unfortunately, there have once again been problems with the formatting of the story which have yet to be fixed, despite my complaints. There are 7 instances of words run together which should not be (e.g., "deprived every" is posted as "deprivedevery"). This is bothersome and, I think, makes me look sloppy when the errors did not originate in my version of the text to begin with. Then there's a sentence whose meaning has been entirely altered from its original intention. As published, it currently reads:

"Whispers spoke of ways for dealing with the nightmare magic of the Sorim. Ways that twisted these hallways and distorted the senses, but none worked so well, the teacher said, as meticulously maintaining a trail."

But the original says:

"Whispers spoke of ways for dealing with the nightmare magic of the Sorim that twisted these hallways and distorted the senses, but none worked so well, the teacher said, as maintaining one's trail."

So you can see, it's originally intended to show that the nightmare magic of the Sorim twists hallways and distorts the senses, not-- as the revision seems to suggest-- the thieves' ways of maintaining a trail. Maybe it could've been worded better, yes, but while the revision might fix the awkwardness of the sentence, it perverts its meaning. This is something I've also asked the editor to fix.

On a similar note, the formatting errors in "The Pendant of Zeklin Kha" (my other story published there) still have not been entirely fixed, either. The first paragraph still has two words run together, "Sorimlegends" which should read: "Sorim legends."

I suppose I should send the editor another nudge about this tonight to make sure it gets fixed.

In other news, I recently went back over some of my old stories. I've been fond for the past year or two of talking about how I tried to write a novel and failed miserably (regarding a work I "finished" in 2005 that is basically a stupidly modernized retelling of Hamlet) and have never needed to try again. But I re-discovered last night my second novel attempt, which I'd basically forgotten about.

This was a thing I'd started in 2004 while I was working menial, minimum wage jobs. I was writing stories purely out of enjoyment then, just coming home from a dull day with a head full of imagined escapes and needing to get them down in some form. Working title: The Supermarket Prophets. The result is a series of stories generally linked together by locations and characters, but each exploring different fantasies of escape as the characters go through their days working at a supermarket. Because I didn't really think about the thing as something I would ever try to publish, the stories take all kinds of forms (personal narratives, discarded applications for employment, history lessons, an IF walkthrough...) and go in all different directions. I don't think it would be possible to string them together in a strictly chronological order, as there are lots of alternate realities and each narrator has their own uniquely varying level of reliability. I remember intending that I would be able to read through all the stories and decide which I thought was its actual ending whenever I wanted at that particular moment of reading (and which were fantasies told out of boredom by inventive store clerks).

One problem is that some of the stories' voices sound a little too similar. This can be fixed. Others, though, sound quite vastly and distinctly different from each other. That's a good sign, I think.

One thing I was a little comforted to find in this case was how what I think of as my "casual tone" can work to make compelling narrative, even if it is a little overused amongst these stories in particular. Since these works, I hadn't used my casual tone again until The Ascot, and I haven't really used it since then in a serious effort. It's nice to see that it can do something special. Maybe I should write something in it some other time.

In the meantime, I'm a little excited at rediscovering this thing and think I might try to get some more work done on it if I find the time.

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