Gordon Van Gelder didn’t buy the rewrite of the Bigfoot story. No “alas” in the rejection, but he also included his assistant editor JJA’s comments and they started with “Eh.” Which if you ask me is worse than an Alas. Oh well, it goes off to scifi.com tomorrow.
Archive for September, 2005
Took the train to work today, saving gas and getting a little time for writing. Added about 300 words to the space opera folk tale story and edited a bunch of the existing words. Also did some critiques. And as for that reopened bug? Turned out the submitter wanted to talk to me because the problem was really subtle. It’s a mental model problem — the user has a consistent mental model of what the software is doing, but it doesn’t match the software’s behavior. It would be easy to say that the user is wrong, but others also have the same incorrect mental model, which means that the software isn’t doing enough to educate the user about how the system actually works. I need to find a way to gently persuade the user to think about the problem in the right way. Not yet sure how to do this, but I’m accepting the reopened bug as an indication that something needs to be done. Tomorrow: off to Foolscap!
After a somewhat annoying day at work, when just before leaving I discovered that a UI bug I’d closed as “as designed” had just been reopened without any explanation as to why, I settled down for some writing. 750 new words on the space opera folklore story, and the second of four scenes is done. I don’t know if it’s really working as a story, but I’m happy with the amount of emotion I’m managing to pack into the plot part of each of those little scenes. I’m really relying the reader’s knowledge of one of the Standard SF Universes to build up the situation in each with just a few words — if they aren’t already familiar with Niven and Heinlein I’ll probably lose them. Well, I’ll just finish the story and let my crit group tell me whether or not it works. Still no word on the novel. I called my agent and asked him to nudge the editor for me. I fear that no news is bad news, but I strive to be patient and optimistic…
About 675 words tonight on the space opera folklore story. That’s most of the first real scene. Terribly old-fashioned, but the interleaved bits of future folklore will give it a postmodern twist. I’m sending it to Analog first, anyway. I am concerned that the story’s going to be too long… around 4000 words at this rate. I’d be happier if it were much shorter. Well, once it’s done I can try to cut it.
Just a couple of minor bits that I should have posted earlier… One is that we had a successful yard sale last Saturday. It did start raining at about 11:00, but I had bought some tarps at the last minute and we quickly got everything covered. By 12:00 it became apparent that the rain (never more than a light drizzle, but still more than you’d want on your books) wasn’t going to let up, so we moved everything onto the porch. The amazing thing is that we sold enough between 9:00 and 11:00 that we could fit all the rest on the porch! By the time we were done, we’d gotten rid of between 2/3 and 3/4 of the stuff we’d started with (by volume) and taken in about $220 — a lot better than I’d been anticipating, frankly. It was work, but fun. The best part was seeing people happy to walk away with our unwanted stuff — a boon to both parties. Now we have about eight boxes of unsold stuff to donate to various charities. The other is that on Tuesday I was the guest of honor at the SF book group that meets at Powell’s in Beaverton. The book under discussion was Hartwell and Cramer’s Year’s Best Fantasy 5, including my story “Charlie the Purple Giraffe” among other fine stories. We talked about the craft and practice of writing as well as about the book itself, and I got to talk with the SF buyer, who invited me to contact him when and if I have a novel and want to do a signing. Also, I see that I now have 181 people reading my LiveJournal. Goodness. Hello, people!
Sweet Kate made me sit down and write tonight. It’s been some months since I did so with any regularity (basically, since I sent off the novel), but I have been picking away at a space opera folklore piece in odd hours here and there. I didn’t get a lot of new words down but I think the piece is starting to take concrete shape. It’s currently about 1500 words, all in the folklore part and none of the actual plot. The plot should come together around the folklore pretty easily, I think, though. It’s going to cover over 100 years, five generations with about ten characters, in under 4000 words… maybe as little as 3000 if I can rein in my tendency to repeat myself.
Gordon Van Gelder at The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction usually sends very terse rejections — one or two sentences on a half-sheet of paper. But on my last submission I got a two-page letter, identifying the problems he had with the story and saying he would consider it again if I could come up with a way to address them. I’m honored to receive so much attention. I know that few editors these days have the time and energy to help new writers with their craft the way John W. Campbell did back in the day. However, I know that GVG is trying to provide more feedback in general, so it’s probably not just me. But it’s still keen that he took the time. Anyway, I did rewrite the story to address his concerns, and I’ll put it in the mail tomorrow. The rewritten story is more aggressive, nastier, and more science-fictional. It’s also not quite the story I had in mind when I started (the original major theme has gotten somewhat lost, although the plot, main character, and especially the climax are stronger), so if GVG rejects the rewrite (as he has in the past, alas) I’m not sure which version I’ll send to the next market. Whatever. I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it. Onward and upward.