Living on scraps…

7 07 2009

Being a writer is a terrible thing. You sit alone in a room, ignoring your loved ones, often writing stories so horrific that they burn your mind and singe your soul, or so sublime that you end shaking or in tears.

And that’s the good part. Then comes rewriting, which is like eating yourself, using only a blunt spoon as a utensil. It’s a constant battle against complete ego dissolution. You change and you cut until you’re not sure if the story is getting better or not, until you’re not even sure who you are or what made you think you had anything to say.

And then it really gets bad. Then you select a market for your story. The choices here seem to get smaller every day. Either the magazine/webzine/etc. is entirely vanished, or it’s closed to submission until some months hence. You eventually find just the right market — one that wants complex stories that aren’t quite one thing and aren’t quite another — and is actually willing to read your work.

You send your darling child, your bastard curse away to some stranger, knowing that it’s one of dozens or hundreds gone through by an overworked editor who’s just finished reading his 27th re-telling of true vampire love, and you hope she isn’t having a bad day.

And when the rejection letter comes, it’s enough that it holds one sentence more than the last rejection letter they sent you. I tiny line encouraging you to submit something else.

Most days, that’s the payment for all the work and worry, and somehow it’s enough.