I’ve changed my name to Anxious

I swore I wouldn’t talk about this until I had something more definitive, honest to God, I took an oath. But the waiting and not saying is just more than I can stand.

I’m not sleeping much, obsessing about this. I’m eating too much, what I always do when I’m faced with something important that I can’t control.

I’ve been writing, but I’m not finishing anything. I have five stories started right now, but I get to 1,000 or 1,500 words and it feels as if I’m dragging heavy weights.

And I’ve been haunting my mailbox, too; so much so that the mail carrier flinches when she sees me.

Here’s the situation.

Last July, I attended Jim Gunn’s SF Writers Workshop in Kansas and workshopped a story that wound up being titled Flotsam. It’s hard science fiction, a near-future story about a work team in low earth orbit. I don’t write much hard SF and I sweated .44 caliber bullets doing the research for it.

In mid-July, after the workshop and at Professor Gunn’s suggestion, I sent the story off to Analog. Editor Stan Schmidt requires hard paper submissions, so I knew there would be a wait before I knew anything. Maybe a long wait.

So, here’s what I’ve been holding in.

The third week in September, I got a letter from Dr. Schmidt saying that he liked the story and that he wanted to use it in his magazine, if I was willing to do a minor rewrite.

Would I be willing to do a rewrite to have one of my stories appear in Analog? Might as well ask if I would be willing to go on breathing.

It really was minor, though. In fact, all I had to do was insert five paragraphs that I had taken out in my final edit. I put the revised piece in the mail a couple days later and sat down to wait.

I haven’t heard anything yet. It’s been six weeks, but in this business, that’s nothing. I’ve talked to other writers who have had work published in Analog and they’ve all told me I just have to be patient.

But this is one of only a few times I’ve submitted a story via snail mail — there aren’t many magazines that require that anymore — and it’s the first time I’ve gotten a conditional acceptance from a major SF market.

I know it’s stupid to fixate upon this to the point that it interferes with my writing. With my life, to be honest. But I’m new enough to this profession to be anxious about the outcome. It’s possible this sort of thing may become commonplace at some point in my future, but right now this is a big deal for me.

It will be my third professional sale, which means I can apply for membership in the Science Fiction Writers of America. It’s validation that my Writers of the Future win wasn’t just a fluke. And, most important, it’s frakkin’ Analog. I’ve only been reading the magazine for fifty years.

But I’ll be good. I swear I will. I’ll wait patiently. I’ll focus on my writing; get it back on track. I won’t pounce upon the mail carrier the moment she steps down from her truck. I just hope word arrives soon, though.

Before I’m forced to resort to slicing open live chickens and reading entrails. 😉

Don’t pay the ransom

Almost two weeks since I last posted; sorry about that.

It’s been a crazy fortnight.

I was sick for a time; it seems that I have developed allergies as I have aged. We went to see Watchmen one afternoon and decided to have lunch at California Pizza Kitchen before settling in at the theater. I had a couple of Thai spring rolls and slathered on the peanut sauce. Tasty!

But as we exited the movie, my throat was beginning to feel scratchy and by the time we got home it hurt to swallow. An hour later, I felt as if all my joints had been pumped up to 36 p.s.i. and my throat was filled with mucus.

A trip to Urgent Care cleared it all up, God bless modern pharmaceuticals, but I have had my last taste of spicy peanut sauce; maybe any sort of peanut. I do not want to go through that again.

I am also waiting for notice as to whether or not I will be going to Clarion West this summer. The deadline for submissions was March 1st; I mailed mine the last week in January, so I am beginning to feel like the two fools in Waiting for Godot.

And I began working as a slush reader for Every Day Fiction the first of the month. It has been an eye-opening experience. I have read seventy-five stories over the past two weeks and it is amazing the things that people will submit, thinking that it is flash fiction.

Vignettes and memoirs and diatribes. Jokes — both fair and foul. Some of it very well written; most of it disjointed, confusing and structurally awful. So that when the occasional genuinely good story pops up, it shines!

That’s what keeps me reading. I feel like the optimistic little girl who searches that big pile of manure on her birthday, because she’s convinced there’s a pony in there somewhere.

I have managed to get some writing done. Doctor Sue’s Dr. Seuss is done and it’s longer than I thought it would be. 4,200+ words. It’s about a child psychologist whose best buddy is a big blue talking elephant named Horton and he lives within the walls of her office.

I’m cleaning it up now to get it into the mail. I’ll let you know if anybody likes it well enough to put it in print.