Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Paper makes it serious

You know, I don't submit short stories to F&SF very often. They only accept paper submissions--and it's not just that I'm super-lazy and don't want to print out my story and find an envelope and scrounge up postage money. It's that putting one of my stories down on paper? Makes the act of creation way, way too real.

Now that kind of logic shouldn't make a lick of sense; after all, I've sold eleven stories now; you'd think I'd have figured out that, yes, I am a creative person, and yes, this story business is the real deal. Uh-huh. Right. I still freak out. To actually print out a cover letter, I have to triple proofread my two short paragraphs, take a break, and then ask somebody else to read it over. Who finds tons of mistakes I missed. When I know I'm printing a cover letter, I can't even type my own address with any kind of accuracy.

Maybe it's because you have to sign the letter. It's like a check, or a contract. You're promising that editor something. You're signing away your life on that promise. What if that editor collects on it? You're cheerfully getting ready for work one morning, and there's knock on your front door, and when you open it, there's an editorial assistant standing on your porch, flames coming out his nose and carrying a pitchfork. Your story sucked. He's here to collect your soul.

I'm breaking out in cold sweats just thinking about it.

You know, I still have time. The envelope doesn't even have stamps on it. There's still a chance I could change my mind, sparing myself that ugly visit. I mean, what if I need my soul? Doesn't a soul imbue my life with some kind of mystical energy that if I lose, I descend into the same empty state of existence as Willy Loman? Am I going to have to work in sales?


I managed to collect myself. I remembered that this writing business only calls for blood, sweat, and tears--soul is completely optional. I'm safe. This story is going out in the mail tomorrow!

Which means tonight I'm heading down to the crossroads. If my soul's not going to help me write a decent short story, I might as well get some kind of mileage out of it. I wonder what kind of deal Satan can give me ...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bears in armor

A few days ago, I came across some great words of guidance, quoted by some random dude on Twitter and attributed to my new hero of grumpiness and Dorito-fueled madness, Charles Wendig:


Now, you might think this is just needlessly tough tough-guy talk, but I am taking it to heart. I don't need to be a mean fighting machine--I need to protect myself. The hardness I need is armor, thick plates of it to protect my tender innards. I waste way too much time taking otherwise boring missiles, like rejections and mistakes, and then turning them upon myself, grinding my heart and mind into hamburger. Then it takes me tons of time to regrow those internal organs, and I'm tired & grumpy.

The nicest thing about my new motto is that is makes me giggle a little bit when I say it. I mean, who could fail to giggle when they think about Care Bears? Man, I loved those chubby little love bugs when I was a kid. And I feel okay invoking them as a spirit totems, because if there's anything I learned from watching The Care Bears Movie (or better yet, The Care Bears in Wonderland), it's that the Care Bears are ruthless in their attempt to bring joy & goodness into this world. They have a take-no-prisoners attitude that belies their cuddly exteriors.

My exterior is pretty cuddly, too. With some chain mail and a decent breastplate, I could probably make a great Tenderheart Byrnison ...

(*I've heard this is a chapter heading in Chuck's book, which I just ordered a few seconds ago and am still waiting to arrive.)

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Gut check

As lame as it is to admit, I still haven't gotten my mojo back after Virtual Tales' collapse. Losing my book -- even though it wasn't much of a book, and it wasn't much of a book deal -- seems to have sucked out some kind of faith I had in myself and in writing novels. Honestly, I think I've been battling a low-grade depression since I got the news.

Maybe noveling will work out and maybe it won't. At least I'm still writing.