Monday, August 15, 2011

Writing News from the Wrong End of the Rainbow

I got an email last night, one I'd been wouldn't arrive--though I'd suspected it would, eventually. The one short story I've had accepted for publication, "Gaydar," has been released back to me, and once again I get to go back to being straight-up unpublished.

That sounds worse than it is. First, a bit of staging: in late 2006, a call for short stories was put out for a queer superhero anthology entitled Superqueeroes. Lyda mentioned the call for subs to me, and it sounded like a good writing challenge, so I wrote "Gaydar" for the project. I passed it through Wyrdsmiths for critique, revised it, and submitted it at the end of January 2007. The editor accepted it a few months later. I was thrilled--my first print publication! Not much money, but I wasn't worried about that; I was published. I signed the contract and sent it back in. I even bought coffee at our next Wyrdsmiths meeting. I remember it cost more than I was getting from the sale.

Then the complications started. In September 2007, the publisher who had signed the project was sold, and the new house dissolved the line that had accepted the anthology project, leaving the editor with an orphaned project. I went back to being an unpublished author.

The editor went to work shopping the project to other publishing houses, but there weren't a lot of takers--some houses were interested, but their print schedules for the next year or two were already full. A few of the stories got pulled by their respective authors, and the editor reworked the manuscript a couple times and resubmitted it again. Eventually, in October of 2009, a new house expressed interest in accepting the project. In October 2010, new contracts were written up and sent out, and I signed and returned mine. Published again.

I emailed the editor in March 2011 to find out about the status of the project, which was originally set to come out this year, and she said she was waiting for the last two contracts to be returned. Last night's email was the next communication about the anthology, letting us know that the project has been cancelled. Unpublished.

Considering how long it has taken to push this project forward, I'm not at all surprised, though I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed. Considering the rocky path the anthology went though, not to mention the complications the editor has experienced and continues to face in her personal life, I'm not at all surprised that the project has been dropped. It's been a hard four years for her, and I wish her and her family well.

I'm not sure there's a lesson in this, except for one that I already knew: there's no way I should still be going back to "unpublished" four and a half years after my first short story was accepted. There has been plenty of time to find other projects, to write more stories and send them in to the wonderful magazines and anthologies that are currently active. That failure is on me.

Time to fix that.

4 comments:

Eleanor said...

Ishy news. And a good post.

Eleanor said...

There's been a nice little discussion going on the Book View Cafe blog on why do you write? What would you write if you didn't have to worry about money or time? The following was quoted in the discussion:

At that point Writer 4, who had been published in small press early, and not for a long time since, said, “I haven’t finished anything for years. If I meet an editor at a party who offers me real money and the top slot for the book, I’ll finish it. I believe if you really write well, they come to you. It’s only the second-rate who have to ambulance-chase after agents and editors, who talk endlessly about rejectomancy, who write cookie-cutter crap in hopes of hooking onto the latest trend. Unless I see a serious commitment first, it’s a waste of my time.”

Eleanor said...

I put this here, because it's a perfect example of its type; and to remind all of us that we must write and send out and hunt for agents and whine about rejections and learn everythng we can about the business of writing.

Sean M. Murphy said...

Wow. I can't imagine that author ever getting published again. Thanks, Eleanor!

(P.S. I'm just finishing revisions on another short story right now!)