Archive for October 6th, 2009

Delayed gratification, and a research request

So often in this business our joys are provisional. Hey, I finished a story! …but I don’t know if anyone will buy it. Hey, I sold one! …but I have to wait for the contract and check, and wait some more for galleys, and wait yet more for publication. Hey, it finally appeared! …now we’ll see if anyone likes it.

I’ve been spending a lot of the last couple of months in a nebulous space between creation and publication — closer to publication than sometimes, but not quite there yet. For some reason I’ve gotten rewrite requests on five submissions this year, and I also got feedback from my critique group on a couple of recent stories that prompted extensive revisions. So I’ve been doing a lot of rewriting and not a lot of drafting, which is not as satisfying to me and also not terribly conducive to blogging-about.

I’ve made a couple of sales, too, but even there things are kind of nebulous. I got a rejection from an anthology, but it was accompanied by a request to use the story on the anthology’s website (for five cents a word). I would rather have been in the print antho, but it’s a decent pay rate and online publication means I don’t have to ask my friends to shell out money to read my stuff. So that’s a sale, sort of. I also got paid for the Wild Cards story, but there might still be a few revisions requested, depending on exactly what happens with the other stories in the book. So that’s another sale, again sort of.

Anyway, I just finished and mailed… let’s see, that’s the fourth revision in a row, and I’m nearly done with another piece, a nonfiction essay based on the talk I gave at the Library of Congress back in July, which isn’t exactly new writing either. Next up — and I should start that today — is a project somewhere between drafting and revision: a YA novel proposal based on the three stories I wrote for Esther Friesner’s fantastical-suburbia anthologies. I’ve been asked to write about half of it (~40,000 words) plus an outline.

The original short stories were set in the 1970s, because that’s when I was in intermediate school and I have no idea what life is like for Kids Today. It worked well but I’ve been asked to bring it up to the present day for the novel. I started off with one of the original stories but it was just too finished… trying to revise it was like trying to reshape a marble statue with a butterknife. So I’m going to tackle the project as a completely new novel with the same characters (well, with people based on the same characters) and then, once I have a good solid idea of the setting, characters, and voice, maybe revise the existing stories to fit in the new present-day world.

Now I have a research problem: how to find out what life is like for Kids Today, ages 13-14? I don’t know any kids that age well enough to talk to, and I can’t go down to the local middle school and just hang out… that’s creepy, and probably illegal these days. Any recommendations of books, magazines, movies, TV shows, or websites?

I sold short story “horrorhouse” to DayBreak Magazine, a new online magazine dedicated to near-future, optimistic SF. It will appear on October 31. I also received payment for my Wild Cards story, though there may be one more round of editorial comments.