Tuesday, April 28, 2009

my first proofs

Two days ago I received the proofs from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction for the story the magazine bought. As I have been since my first contact with them (a month and a half back), I am impressed with the dedication of the F&SF staff. I think just about all the e-mails I received were sent after hours or on Sundays. I sent my one correction today although I had until May 15 to get back to them. As it was, I frittered away one whole day avoiding reading the proofs until I got to wondering if some response was expected - such as "got the proofs, will get back" or if that response would be regarded as lame, or, or, or, ... so I figured I should just read the thing and get 'er done.
During the day of avoidance, I did get to spend bits of time - mostly while taking Ronan for a swim in Lake Erie - thinking about how I did not want to read the story and be embarassed and worried about it. And sad. Embarassed because I am a very harsh judge and I am no longer sure that the story meets my peculiar first criterion for writing anything: Is it worth the paper it's printed on? Or rather: is it likely to produce anything of value to equal or exceed the environmental cost of its existence? Perhaps, I should take some comfort in that the story has a lot less to answer for with its little life than I do for my existence. Worried, because I no longer write like that, which leads directly to sad - F&SF just rejected the story I really wanted to send them. The one that I was going to send out on the heals of the rejection of the first story, while they still had some memory of who I am and a hopefully favorable impression that I understand the rules of English and standard manuscript format.
No big surprise that life is full of surprises. Also it should not come as a big surprise to me that the second story - at 13000 words, three times the size of the first story - is still going to be a hard sell coming for someone only one small step up from a total unknown. I would like to not be surprised to find out that other writers go through similar idiotic contortions with their first proofs - as opposed to being properly and jubilantly happy like we should be. One final non-surprise: F&SF lived up to my experience of their efficiency and professionalism; the rejection came back in less than 14 business days and was a short personal letter, graciously worded.

As for the backlog of posts clogging my mind ... I have now figured out how to get my father's computer in Cleveland to act sort of like the one back at home (I couldn't figure out how to adjust the size of pictures, which was turning them into monsters that clogged the post space). In the meantime the backlog has grown. This is starting to feel awfully reminiscent of bummers and gummers never-completely-conquered pile of not-yet-answered mail. Now if I write, "Patience, please" the deja vu will be complete.

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