I recently had another story rejected. The editor forwarded the reviewer’s comments to me. I found a couple of valid concerns in them, but also some other types of concerns.
The biggest problem here is that the two reviewers found different reasons for rejecting the story. One loved the magic as portrayed, the other focused on that as his/her main reason for recommending rejection. The basic flaw they found in that regard is that they did not understand exactly how the magic works. My contention is that magic is, in fact, magic. It is somewhat mysterious by nature. In a short story, there is not enough time to be explicit about the inner mechanisms at work here. I am disappointed that a slush reader for a fantasy magazine does not realize this.
The other reviewer thought that a couple of transitions were too sudden. One in particular has the protagonist suddenly struck down. The suddenness of this episode is an essential part of the plot, in my estimation.
Thus, the quandary continues. To revise or not to revise. On these two points, I have to decide not to revise. I do think they are essential to the story. Other points raised will be incorporated into some changes in the wording in a couple of places to address them.
All in all, I think that this illustrates the dangers inherent in submitting stories. Slush readers have many other concerns than picking out subtle points in the story. They just don’t have time to deal with that. Their tastes also differ from one to another. Contradictory opinions are just part of the process that we have to accept.
I like to include a certain amount of subtlety in my stories. I think it enriches them. Making everything explicit and explained in great detail just damages the story. I do not like stories that do that. Leave something to my imagination, for Heaven’s sake.
I guess I will just keep submitting the story, with some revision, until I find an editor or slush reader that appreciates it.
A friend of mine over at Forward Motion offered some sage advice. “The story is going to have your name on it forever,” she said. Thanks, Dawn! That is something I had kind of lost sight of in all my dithering and insecurity. It IS my story, and I have to take ownership of it. Any changes to it need to conform to my vision of the story.
I submitted it to a new market over the weekend. Unchanged. It will live and die on its own, as it should.
In other news, I got a good start on my ghost story. Some interesting developments cropped up along the way to 1,063 words. I think the whole business of it being set on another planet will have to go. That would not contribute anything to the story except as window dressing. It’s going to be a good story without all that getting in the way. Got to get back to work on that.
Moving day for the Library is officially set for May 8. Pray for us. It’s going to be real but not very much fun. The outcome will be well worth it, though.
I recently got a rejection on my short story “Sea Change” with a comment about why it was rejected. The editor said that the first and last scenes had a mystical feel, but the rest of the story was realistic. They thought that was too distracting. The problem with that is that that is exactly the effect I was trying for. Thus, a dilemma: revise to fit this editor’s comments or stick with my own vision.
This story has a long history, including an almost-acceptance. I got a revision request from one market, a very rare situation for a short story. Unfortunately, that market went under before I got the revision done. It has drawn rejections from 8 other markets besides that one and the latest. 10 rejections for a short story is certainly not unusual, and I believe in this story enough to keep it in circulation.
But, the dilemma. I have not yet decided what I am going to do about this. I am leaning toward not revising in order to preserve my vision of the story. On the other hand, would revising it in this way make it more marketable? Which is more important?
While I decide, I have 2 other stories in the garage in need of help. I also have the latest story ideas rolling around and slowly becoming clearer in my mind. No lack of work here.
Heard about a new market (thanks, Terrie!): Alban Lake. They are brand new and plan to start publishing Real Soon Now. They publish four mags with different emphases: Scifaikuest (poetry), Outposts of Beyond (mainly science fiction, some adventure fantasy), Disturbed Digest (mainly dark fantasy and horror), and FrostFire Worlds (fantasy for children/YA). All of them prefer stories that take place on other worlds.
Reading the guidelines for Disturbed Digest sparked a germ of an idea. What if there were a world where ghosts interacting with the living was routine? The ghosts would be trying to resolve whatever issue was keeping them around, but there would be complications communicating with the living.
They would not be able to speak directly with the living or have any effect on physical matter. Sign language might be a possibility, or charades, if they can get anyone to pay attention. There might be a special bureau of the police forces dedicated to settling those affairs. Similar to today’s cold case units.
Much worldbuilding to do on this before it becomes a viable story.
That idea sparked on offshoot: what if the protagonist were a ghost trying to get his/her situation resolved? Subject to the same conditions that make it so hard for ghosts to communicate already, of course. Enormous energy required to manifest in any way, Darkness required for any kind of interaction. Communication is difficult to impossible. Etc. Hmmm.
In the meantime, back into the “fix” list to address some of the problems that have been pointed out by editors.
I don’t get offended by much, but this is really gnawing on my butt these days.
The song that ChristianMingle is using in their ads on TV really gets under my skin. This is the ultimate expression of male chauvinism and is unacceptable to me as an expression of a supposedly Christian outlook.
HE will call. SHE will come running. SHE will fall in HIS arms. SHE will pray. SHE wants to fall in love with HIM. Is she not already in love with him? Why does she follow his every wish? Does she not care whether he loves her? What is he doing all this time? Standing around smirking because he has her so tightly wrapped around his little finger that the blood flow to her brain has been cut off?
This is hardly an expression of the principles of unconditional love and consideration for others. Any group that supports the values of oppression of one sex by another should not call themselves Christian. That is not what Jesus preached or practiced.
Enough. Time to move on to something of actual consequence. Just had to get that off my chest.
Shelving install commenced yesterday in the new Library. After much finagling, the shelving contractor and I finally got things arranged so the there will not be any black holes in the stacks.
The real problem is that the building contractor hung the lights the wrong way. The fixture are running parallel to the stacks. They should be running perpendicular to avoid having shadows. With stacks 7 feet tall and 36″ aisles, shadows can be a real problem. We will see how this works out. Hoping for the best.
Another problem is that the light fixtures are not evenly spaced. Some are 60″ apart, one was only 55″, another was 65″. That means that the aisles are not perfectly evenly spaced either. It’s only a difference of a couple of inches on a couple of the aisles, which is not a whole lot and is not really apparent to the eye, but still… Much unspoken cursing on my part. I don’t know what the shelving install crew said, I left before that started, but I can imagine.
The other problem is that the clearances from the walls and other furniture is already marginal. The shelving contractor managed to work out a scheme for moving the stacks a little bit to give us enough light, maintain their alignment, and still remain ADA-compliant. Thank You, Seth!
That crisis was averted, now we are waiting to see what other weirdness rears its ugly head. Open House is April 12, so anything that goes wrong needs to be resolved by then.
Moving date is still uncertain, but I am hoping for the first week in May.