I mentioned "The Machine" getting a very friendly and helpful PRL from On Spec in my last post, but I just realized I didn't tell you guys about the rest of the stories I have out.
"Glory in the Wasteland" was rejected by Asimov's Science Fiction on November 17...the same day "Broadcasting Live From Bensk" was rejected by Pedestal Magazine. Yes, that's right: A double-whammy, two rejections in one day.
"All Debts Public and Private" was sent back by Ploughshares on November 20th.
"...And Other Significant Junkies" rejected on November 27th. Four rejections in ten days.That one, believe it or not, is not a record: From September 27th to October 5th, I received 5 rejections, a record which came very close to toppling in November, but did not.
Only "The Machine" has been sent submitted elsewhere; the stories listed above are all on hiatus. I don't know why I didn't send them out. I guess I was feeling down about my writing and thought it was pointless. But part of it is also that I just don't know how good these stories actually are. When I went back and reread "The Machine," I knew I had a good story. Even with the apparently-confusing introduction, the story itself is strong, and I still enjoy reading it. I need to sit down and read these stories again to know if any of them are ready.
And not just if they're good, but if they're in my voice. If they read like I wrote them. I have always been told that there are no rules, but I guess I never really understood what that meant until I read McCarthy. That book ("The Road', and subsequently, "Blood Meridian") showed me that there are no rules. Here's a man who writes a story and doesn't give a fuck if there aren't enough commas for your liking, doesn't care that there isn't one quotation mark to be found. Fuck your rules, this is my voice, is what he says with his writing.
Well, now I know, finally, that I can take the mask off. I always tried to dress my writing up so it looked like it fit, like it belonged, but to hell with all that. I'm not doing that anymore. The quirks that made my writing unique and appealing to my teachers when I was growing up, that stayed with me into my 20s, and were pounded out of me by every bit of writing advice I've received (save one, of course: "there are no rules"), are all back. I'm back. I'm not going to force my writing into a niche anymore just because that's the "right" way and my way is the "wrong" way.
To quote Romany Malco's character in "The 40 Year Old Virgin" (no, seriously!) "What's felt right to you don't work; it's time to try some wrong, dog."