Time to hang it up?

March 9, 2017

This is one of those days where I keep asking myself, “What’s the point?”

For a very long time, I’ve loved writing. When I was a sophomore in high school, I started writing my own stories. My junior year, I made the decision to pursue a creative writing degree. I never looked back.

But let’s face it, there isn’t exactly a huge job market for that. Maybe I could have gone into television or comic books, but they’re not exactly markets you walk into. I’ve struggled at getting anyone’s attention, but it’s been very few and far between.

I’m 36 years old. In June, I’ll be 37. I’ve been actively pursuing the elusive published story for more than half of my life. Not much has come of it.

Sure, I’ve had a few stories accepted. Some even made money. $36 here or there, nothing to write home about. But it was a start, and it was acknowledgement.

It’s been too long since my last one. I’ve sent out a steady stream of short stories, flooding the market with them all at once. I get some very polite, well-written rejection letters that prove the editors have actually read the story. I’ve gotten some (most, actually) that tell me they took one look at my name and tossed it out right away.

Just a few weeks ago, I self-published my first novel. It was exciting! I put a lot of effort into it, especially considering I was 100% responsible for all of it. I’ve advertised in many different ways, begged “friends” to read and review, and spent countless hours promoting it.

I have sold exactly 1 copy.

You didn’t read that wrong. One. Uno. Solo. Ein. A, an, un, une. Okay, you get the point.

Don’t think I’m doing this just to make money. But how frustrating is it to have all those years of schooling, all those late nights of sending stories out, writing, editing, frying my eyeballs from staring at the screen too long, everything I’ve done…and I have one sale to show for it.

No reviews, no sample copies downloaded for free, no clicks on the ads, no likes on Facebook, no anything.

So why? Why should I continue? Why should I finish the short story I’ve been writing these past few days? Why finish the book I’m 3/4ths of the way through writing? Why edit the stack of stories I’ve been hanging onto?

I used to say it was because I love it. But lately, I don’t think I do. Lately, I don’t know what to think, other than to just give it up.

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The worst kind

September 16, 2016

I have a story up for critique on an online workshop. I love it, because some of my best stuff has come from the help and guidance I receive on there.

There’s one kind of critique I can’t stand, however, and guess what? I just got one of them.

To be honest, I didn’t want to finish reading the critique. Not because it was negative or made me doubt my abilities as a writer, but because it was, well…shitty.

Some people out there just don’t “get it” when it comes to fiction. I mean seriously, fiction means fake, right? So why do people look for “grounded in reality” stories and question even the most basic tropes of science fiction or fantasy? There’s an alien over there! Well that doesn’t make sense because we’ve never had any proof of that happening.

Sometimes it’s even worse. How many times can I explain that something is glowing orange, and the very last reference to it you question it? Or the fact that yes, character A is driving and character B is in the passenger seat. Why is that such a big deal? They’re just talking!

Gah…

I hate to vent like this, but geez…if you’re that clueless, should you be critiquing stories?

Probably not. But then again, I probably shouldn’t let it get to me like this.

I’m glad I’m not a heavy drinker, because this would probably cause me to guzzle half a bottle of the hard stuff…

What a long road it’s been…

If you’ve been following things, you’ll know that my wife and I have been renovating her dad’s house, readying it for us to live in. For the most part, we’re done! It’s nice…really nice. Still, there’s a lot that needs to be done.

A big part of me wants to just put it aside, like many homeowners who have dozens of half-finished projects sitting around. Unfortunately, I have some major things, like hooking up the dishwasher, finishing the kitchen floor, and hooking up the range. If not for those, I’d be good as gold.

So the writing is on the backburner for now. I can handle it, but it’s burning me up, from the inside out.

While packing, and subsequently unpacking, I’ve unearthed more notebooks and folders jam-packed with old writing that I can shake a pencil at. Stuff from a few years ago, stuff from college, even stuff from high school. One notebook has writing from sixth grade, way back in 1992! That was unfinished homework, though, so it doesn’t count.

Regardless, I’ve been itching to get things done. I had a list of unfinished stories and such that has been collecting dust for over a year now. More and more stories need edited, and let’s not forget how many stories I could be submitting.

But the submissions wouldn’t even be going as well as I’d like anyway. I have a few stories out right now, and of course it’s the same old sob story. If a publication is still actually active, they take forever. One week after their due date for response, I’ll email, they take a few days to either yell at me to wait, or give me a half-assed rejection.

Then there’s the ones that don’t even respond, the ones that aren’t open anymore. Sometimes, they are in fact open, but take their sweet time to even respond to the queries, and don’t seem to notice that they’ve taken twice their quoted time to get back with you.

Too many of them are closed, though.

I can’t understand it, except ambitious people that get too overwhelmed. Well how long does it take to put a simple message on your website that says you’re closed, you’re behind, or you’re having second thoughts? It’s way more professional than, say, no contact at all!

This is why I’m getting into self-publishing. I know it’s risky, but at least my stuff will be out there. The only big problem is the time it takes to get things prepared for it, and here we go again with not having enough time for it.

But I will. Soon, things are back into place. Hell, I have some time occasionally at work to get this stuff done! (Just don’t tell my boss). So, editors, publishers, and fellow writers (who will surely cross-promote with me, right?), is the time now? Is everything going to work out?

Soon, this house is going to be finished, and I’ll be back at work like nothing ever happened. Right?

Of course it will. Because it has to.

Raising Hope

November 29, 2015

Chances are, you can look back through pretty much every blog post I’ve made and one major theme will be present: frustration. Specifically, frustration at not getting stories accepted and published. Believe me, it’s more than frustrating, and if you can believe it again, I’m actually holding back in most of those posts. You know that old cartoon image of the red-faced guy with steam coming out of his ears? Yeah, that’s me.

But I feel hopeful tonight, and positive. Maybe it’s this cold, crisp air opening my neural pathways, or maybe it’s something else, but in regards to publishing, I’m not in that bad of a mood.

Don’t get me wrong, there are quite a few publications that are way beyond due to give me a response. Anything, please, will do! But when I query, they either ignore me (proving they’re defunct or just don’t give a damn anymore), or they respond with a very terse, “please wait longer” type message.

Some are literally one day over their estimated time limit. While I understand that there’s been the Thanksgiving holiday and whatnot going on, it still gives me hope. I don’t believe in jinxes or luck or any of that mumbo jumbo horseshit, but I don’t like to talk about it before it’s a sure thing. Still, I have a pretty good feeling about some of these.

Even if they send me an email this Monday and apologize for the long wait because they’re swamped with submissions but still give me a big fat no, I’ll be okay. After all, I always set the bar low. I never expect to be published in any specific magazine…just hope to. Not only is it awesome if and when they say yes, I’m not horribly disappointed when they say no.

However, there are a few rude readers out there who give “advice” and comments on their rejections. While I appreciate any and all help, there’s no reason to be condescending. Saying I’ve got “growing up” to do and have to wait to play with the big boys (or whatever crap it was they said) is beyond inappropriate. And it irks me beyond belief when someone tries to be creative (like I typically do) and the first reader/editor personally doesn’t like that meshing of genres, so they reject it. For instance, a battle axe belongs in ancient Crete and not on a pirate ship, according to one person’s opinion, so the story wasn’t worth their while. So sorry I wanted to switch up weapons from the generic and overused bullshit we’re all sick of seeing.

Sorry, I don’t want to rant. But I feel like I need to! I’m hopeful and happy and yes it is irritating that one jerk tosses me aside because I’m trying something new, but it doesn’t mean someone else won’t.

And that is why I’m hopeful.

There are a lot of people out there. Surely, one of the people that writes the checks has to like me, right?

Right.

Because they are out there, and they do like me. And if not, I’ll self-publish it all, and do it the way I want.

Nothing wrong with that!

Thanks (for nothing?)

July 28, 2015

I hate sounding like a complainer. However, as a human, especially one as down on his luck such as myself, it’s easy to get into the swing of pointing out all of the negative aspects of life. After all, things would be so much better if only this or that were just a little different…

So anyway, this morning, I opened my email, as usual. To my surprise, not one, but TWO emails from editors awaited me! To make things even better, there was a message from Devilfish Review! That was good, because they were very close to being on the receiving end of an email from me!

See, I submitted a story to them 100 days ago. I mean, literally, to a tee, one-hundred days ago! Their website says if I hadn’t heard back from them after 3 months, email and ask them what’s the holdup. I kept considering it, but generally, as a writer, if you want an answer now, it’s going to be “no”. Still, it was getting a little frustrating waiting, and I kept telling myself “One more day, one more day…”

That day has come. They sent me a response!

It was a big fat NO.

Sigh…

It’s so irritating having to wait so long for an answer, just to have it be negative. Worse yet, getting a stock/form email telling me this. They couldn’t add a little “sorry for the long wait” or “we apologize for making you wait, but we had serious deliberation on this piece” or anything?

I honestly thought it was going to be a positive response, hence the lengthy wait. I mean, 100 days for a publication that barely pays anything in the first place must be positive, right? Alas, it was not meant to be.

However, let’s look at the flipside of this. I mentioned a second email, right? It was from Shimmer. Shimmer is a pro paying market, meaning that not only do I get a minimum of $0.06 per word for my story, it helps qualify me for membership to the SFWA. That’s a pretty big deal! (Science Fiction Writer’s Association for those too lazy to Google it.)

While they rejected my piece and sent me a form letter as well, this only took 7 days. A week! Did they read it? Maybe a few paragraphs. Did they deliberate? Probably not. But who cares! It took them one measly week!

Now look, I get it. You’re only human, right? Maybe you’re the only person working on your magazine, the only reader, and you get 50 every day. Maybe you were in the hospital. Maybe you got a new job and have had little to no time. Maybe you truly were deliberating the story and just didn’t say anything encouraging in the email. There’s always a lot of maybes.

But there isn’t a lot of time.

Sorry to vent, folks. It’s just frustrating when I have multiple stories out at multiple publications, many of whom simply can’t be bothered to get things moving. Not only for me, but for themselves as well.

Speaking of, I still haven’t heard from Black Denim Lit yet. Is there some conspiracy against Myke Edwards amongst the publishers of internet speculative fiction magazines?

Nah, I’m just being paranoid. Right? Hey! There’s a van across the street with a radar dish on top of it! Oh, wait, it just drove off. Thank you.

The Hugo Awards are coming. Very soon, Worldcon will be held, and the most important awards in science fiction and fantasy will be handed out to those most worthy.

I, of course, will not be present.

As you can all guess, I’m not a writer of much importance. Not yet, at least. I have many, many hopes that someday (hopefully soon!) I will be published in big name magazines, with big paychecks, and followers who found out about me through the paper channels I so desperately desire. Alas, now is not that time.

I’m frustrated because the day before Christmas last year (literally 7 months ago!), I had a story accepted. Black Denim Lit told me I would be published within a few months. At first, it was to be June. Ultimately, they declared it would be the end of July. They have a week to show any proof of this publication (and promised payment).

That isn’t a huge deal, though. I have no doubt that things will be worked out in the end, and I’m not upset with them. Hey, shit happens, after all. No, it’s the time that I’m mad about.

Seven months have passed since I’ve had a story accepted for publication. Have all my other stories been that bad? Is it the plot itself? The writing? The characters? The fact that Myke Edwards is not a marketable name, and you don’t want to risk an upcoming author when your regular readers typically buy your publications due to the recognizable names attached to the front cover?

Whatever the case, I’m getting upset. At myself, at the editors, at the industry…it just feels so moot anymore. Does anyone care about short stories? Do they care about writers and the sacrifices they make for the love of their craft?

I care. And I care for each and every one of those Hugo nominees, even the ones that don’t deserve it (I’m looking at you, Sick Puppies). I care because you put in the time, the effort, the drive, the blood sweat toil tears and every other thing you do.

I care because I’m one of you. I know that I’m no one, but that doesn’t matter. We are Legion, we are many.

Hopefully soon, I’ll be one of the Hugo Nominee (or even winner!) legion. Hopefully.

Several weeks ago, I received an email.  It was one of those emails that you’re always dreading opening, but more than relieved when you do.  The news in there was not fame and fortune, but a potential doorway to those things was opened.  Yes ladies and gentlemen, someone wrote to tell me they wanted my story.

I’m always happy by this.  The payoff was $10, but hey, it’s a sale!  Another listing for my writing resume, another name for editors to notice when they are deciding whether I am worth publishing or not.  I mean, they’re looking at the quality of my writing more than anything, of course, but I have a feeling that the more publications one has, an editor opens their eyes just that much more.  Or not…but that’s not the purpose of this.

The point it, I was elated.  More than thrilled.  It was a story that I highly doubted would ever get published.  It was a publication that had turned me down numerous times.  It was $10 that I can use to…huh.  Well, I’ll figure that out later.

So I went ahead and email the editor back.  Sure, I said, I’d love to be published by you!  Please let me know if I need to do anything, or just sit tight.

And since then, I have been.

I haven’t heard back from him.  That was early July.  Today is September 2.  I mean, he hasn’t even email to apologize for the wait, maybe let me know that he’s hella busy and will sent a contract, or news, or money, or whatever, when he has time?

Nope.  Nothing.  At all.

And it isn’t just this one.  There are contests I’ve applied to.  Anthologies, that had strict deadlines.  I even had a rewrite request, back in May.  Well, where’s the “Please hold tight while we continue reviewing, we are busy as hell right now”?  I did get one of those, but that was late June.  So far, nothing!

I know, I know.  If you want an answer now, then it is a resounding NO.  But I’d like an answer sometime…hell, just an acknowledgment.

I get it.  Editors are people too.  They don’t always edit their online magazine as their only job.  In fact, they’re lucky to even focus on it more than once a week.  Don’t you just think it’s rather…rude to leave people hanging like this?

I know there are others out there who agree with me.  One of the worst things is not knowing whether or not you should submit your story to another publication.  Because let me tell you, waiting on pins and needles for up to six months (sometimes more!) just to hear a bullshit “we are sorry but this does not fit our needs at the current moment” blowoff is, well, bullshit.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am perfectly willing and able to wait.  But when it’s obvious they never even looked at it, it’s obvious they couldn’t give two shits about you or your story, what are we doing this for?

Because we love it.  And no one can take that away, no matter how long you have to wait.

Still, I’d love an answer…