From what I’m hearing, my story for Eclipse Online is going to go live in February some time. I’ll post a link here when that happens, but right now I’m just looking at that sentence and thinking, yeah, motherfuckers, I can still do this. I can still write stories that get published.
My interior monologue has a particular foul mouth.
I’m usually all man of steel about my stories when in public. They get written, they get sent out, they get published and I get paid. In my ideal world that’s the way things happen and I’m already chasing the next thing by the time you’re reading. It’s easy to be like that once the story is out there, when it’s going to be read whether you like it or not.
It’s the waiting before the story comes out that gets to me. The moments when you know a publication date is coming and you can pretend there’s still the option of backing the hell out. The moment when you listen to the tiny, insignificant voice that says this is the one when you fuck it up. This is the last time you publish anything. You are, officially, done.
I know writers who agonise about rejection letters, but rejection is easy. It’s publication that’s hard, the moments before people read and discuss your work. Or worse, before they read and dismiss it, setting aside your work as unworthy of their time.
George Orwell presented a theory suggesting that once you strip away the need to make a living there’s four reasons a writer writes: Sheer egotism; aesthetic enthusiasm; historical impulse; and political purpose. Usually it’s a mixture of all four that gets things done.
I back and re-read On Writing on nights like this, just to marvel at the simplicity with which he pares things down. Sheer egotism sounds about right on a night like tonight. I really want this upcoming story to be worth people’s time. I’ve been quiet for a long time, and I’ll be quiet for a few months yet. Even if I finished twenty stories today and they all got accepted the first place I sent them, it’d still be 2014 before the majority of them came out.
My brain is running in circles this evening, following the same familiar loops. I’m doing the only thing I can to combat it: writing more, brooding, listening to Nouvelle Vague. Reminding myself there are always options, new ones every day, and even if I fuck up really badly this is probably not the last time I have a story out there. Reminding myself that I trust the editor who picked up the story, and the friends who critiqued it and suggested it was good enough to go out.
It doesn’t change anything: the story is coming out and it’s coming out soon.
With luck it’ll do its job, earn itself some interesting conversation. Once he conversation happens you get to do the fun stuff: watching people respond, whether they love it or hate it; figuring out whether the story does what I thought I was trying to do.
Once those conversations start this is the best job in the world. Until then I’m going to fret and dance along to a cover of To Drunk to Fuck.
And then, to borrow the parlance of the internets, I’m going to go write some shit. LIKE A BOSS.
Heading back down the rabbit hole, peeps. All of you, take care of yourselves.