You’ll recollect that my post on Sunday was quite a short effort. I was awaiting a response to a short story I had submitted for an anthology. The broad theme for the collection is ‘outsiders,’ and it’s being put together as a means to advance LGBT rights. Since LGBT is a genre I don’t generally operate in*, I was a bit out of what marketeers would refer to as my comfort zone. So I did what I always do and went at things sideways.
My initial contact was my good mate Whiplash. She knows my work of old, and has been very supportive of me from my very first tentative forays into getting myself published. However, I wasn’t sure how she’d receive what I’d done, and the trepidation set in badly. Worse, she wasn’t the final arbiter. The editor in chief is somebody I don’t know with a reputation of being as hardnosed as Charlie.
I don’t go online on a Sunday, since it’s maid’s day off, and this meant I couldn’t access my email until Monday. Sweaty palms day came. The dreaded Inbox beckoned… I have to admit I nearly bottled it when I saw Whiplash had replied, but I took a deep breath and opened up the reply. The opening two sentences boded well though.
‘Well done, mate. Well done.’
Not a bad start, eh? But it got better. She’d forwarded a response form the editor himself.
‘Absolutely stunning story…Lovely title… Bravo!’
I did a vigorous chair dance, which attracted some attention from the upright citizens in the library.
The writers among you will know how bloody hard it is to write in the rather pessimistic anticipation that somebody at the reins will tell you you’re crap. Even when you don’t think you are, there’s always a sneaky suspicion that maybe, just maybe, you are.
In this case there was the added tension of hoping the arbiters didn’t think it was rubbish, because the narrative demanded that I killed off the mysterious hero. I don’t know a single writer who doesn’t hate killing off one of their characters, even the bad guys. Some people I’ve spoken to think that’s a bit odd. ‘But they’re not real!’
When you’ve created them, and they’ve been living with you in your head for days, weeks, months, years, they’re real. Trust me on this.
*Though I did once do a short about a lesbian, and two of the main female characters in my detective novel Blain are lovers.