Acceptance

In February 2000, I received my first acceptance letter. I signed my first contracts. I bounced off the walls for about a week. At some point during the great hullabaloo, it occurred to me that the person who sent me the letter was essentially just doing her job. She probably dropped it in the mail without much fanfare. How ironic that so simple a task could, just a few days later, cause such a stir. Like many writers, I framed the letter. I had a party. I fretted over how exactly to word my thank you letter. I puzzled over the proper way to list publishing credits in future cover letters. It was absolutely fabulous, and I loved every minute of it.

While I maintain that publication isn’t necessarily the mark of exceptional writing, it is the goal of many writers. For some of us it’s a form of validation in a culture that doesn’t reward artists. For others, it’s a benchmark, a means for measuring one’s career. For the really lucky ones out there its simply a part of their profession. For any writer who has spent years pursuing this goal, receiving that first acceptance is the absolutely most exciting experience. I honestly don’t think anything else could beat it. This is probably due to the fact that the first acceptance is often a bit of a surprise.

So, how can an acceptance possibly be a surprise to the writer who has been submitting manuscripts for years? Easy. Rejection becomes familiar after a while. It’s part of the territory. If you’re working hard, and have multiple stories to send out, rejection letters accumulate fairly quickly. I have an uneasy truce with numbers so I’ll not share any here. Suffice to say that you learn to look forward to those return envelopes and e-mails. “Did I manage a personal reject this time?” I always wonder as I review the return address. It’s turned into a kind of game for me to try to guess what story I sent out (especially for those long response times that make it hard to remember).

A writer has only so much control over the acceptance process, and it lies primarily in marketing and submitting one’s stories. If you never send out a manuscript, you’ll never be rejected but you’ll never be accepted either. A lot of it depends on hitting the right editor at the right time. Try as we might, we can never be sure when the right time is. The right story to the right editor at the wrong time generally results in the “Loved this, but I got 75 dog stories this month,” kind of rejection.

You never know which story is going to make your first sale, and that adds to the suspense of the whole business. I was genuinely surprised that this particular story was mine. I love it, don’t get me wrong. I love all my stories. It’s just not as powerful or as strong as some of my other work. It doesn’t have a message of any kind. It turned out a bit sillier than I’d planned. In effect, it’s a little like bubble gum. Fun with no nutritional value.

I was dismayed to find that not everyone was excited by my news. There were some who just assumed I would be getting published because it was what I had set out to do. Sounds complementary, but it stemmed more from misunderstandings about the publishing world than utter confidence in my abilities.

Exactly a week after Acceptance Day, I had a Triple Rejection Day. It was a good reminder that I still had a lot of work to do if I want to make a career of this.

Der Erlkönig

This story is also available on Curious Fictions, should that platform be preferred for longer works.


Long ago the Earth was more wild, and the forest of the world held great power over humankind. The face of the world has changed, but some of this remains true.

In the shadows of Schwartzwald, the Black Forest, lived a powerful king known as Erlkönig, King of Alder. He stood over seven feet in height and was easily as majestic as any tree in his domain. His robe was the blue-gray color of mist. On his head he wore a crown of leaves, of a kind never found on any tree, perpetually held in the bright tints of autumn. He carried a staff as tall as himself, and although it could have been an imposing weapon, it was never needed. Erlkönig was one of the fair folk, and while human children saw a grand figure, their parents could see only an old gray willow, battered by the elements.

Alone in his vast forest, Erlkönig might have become quite lonely. Spotted woodpeckers, red deer, and badgers could participate in conversation on only a limited number of subjects, even such creatures as have been surrounded by magic. Foxes served him by choice rather than fear or obligation. Of humankind, the children were the most like him. They alone could laugh with abandon, and found pleasure in the simplest of things. Alas that human children grew up and took on the world’s troubles as responsibilities, extinguishing the spark within and blinding their eyes to his visage. It was the tragic fate of the human born. Their lives were short, and they lost all joy in the world so quickly. But he had a solution.

Continue reading Der Erlkönig

Sword Haircut

About three years ago I chopped off my hair with a tanto.  For research.  And fun. To help other writers who might need to include this in their stories, I recorded the process. 

This past summer I repeated the exercise with a slightly different technique and a freshly sharpened sword  (it’s classified as a large tanto or a small wakizashi).

Fantasy writer doing research.  Now I can write what I know and know what I write… regarding cutting one’s hair with a sword anyway.



Check out my other research and resources for writers posts here.

Welcome

I’ve been meaning to set up my website for months.  I had one in the distant past (when I had to actually learn HTML), but wasn’t good at updating it, so it did more harm than good.  Times have changed, and I’ve been blogging over on Tumblr for a few years, so it was clearly time to start again.

I try to keep things organized, so as I port things over from my other blog there will be a clear structure, and heavy use of tags and categories.

I’m friendly, so please feel free to contact me if you have a question!

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