Monday, January 8, 2001

Check it out -- my second ever sale -- to Writer Online. I tinkered a little with a prose poem I wrote in 1999, "The Duck", mostly reformatting it so it looked more like a story and making the narrative flow a little clearer, and emailed it to them Friday. Yesterday I got their reply, which reads in part:

Dear Benjamin Rosenbaum,

What a wonderful story!  I can pay you 10 cents a word
for First North American Serial Rights; the story will
be published in our end-of-January issue....Your story is
unforgettable, and I look forward to publishing it in
Writer Online.

Pretty cool, huh? Ten cents a word is a great price for genre fiction, almost twice what F&SF pays newbies.
Of course, at a whopping 194 words, that's only $19.40. And this is the very webzine whose circulation claim I cast aspersions on in my last entry. Still, I must say that the thought that "The Duck" will be arriving in 35,000 inboxes is quite pleasant... even if many of the inboxes' owners do just hit "delete". 

I must thank those who helped me revise it, particularly Neil Wheatley, who insisted that imagining licking a duck's flippers was just a little too kinky...

I finally also got the rejection of "The White City", from David Truesdale at Black Gate, who writes:

While you are on the right track, I think this one is just too slight for our needs, and so am going to pass.

I like your writing however, and hope that you might have something else you'd
consider sending our way. The editor tells me we are in particular need of colorful,action-adventure sword & sorcery tales, being well stocked on most other types of fantasy.

Colorful, action-adventure sword & sorcery tales, huh? My first reaction was, shucks, that's not what I write. My second reaction was, who says? I've played Runequest (and Dungeons & Dragons, and Warhammer, and DragonQuest, and The Fantasy Trip, and...)  for, what, 22 years now? I grew up reading Sword & Sorcery -- well, more the 60's New Wave send-ups of and homages to and deconstructions of Sword & Sorcery, from Elric of Melnibone to Neveryona. I co-designed an award-winning Internet game set in a partly Sword & Sorcery (and partly high fantasy) universe. Who says I can't write colorful, action-adventure sword & sorcery? I oughta be able to crank that shit out like nobody's business.

So, inspired by the WebRats Darers, I've decided to do a mini-dare for the last week of my "paternity leave" vacation (I've more or less adapted to the sleep deprivation, and I've noticed to my great glee that I can actually type one-handed with Aviva on my lap and we're both very happy about the arrangement). I figure a good S&S yarn should be between six and ten thousand words, so I've set myself a goal of 2000 words a day until its done.

But wait, I hear you say. Weren't you just complaining about how you have too many stories started -- too many pots on the stove? What's up with you starting yet another one? Well, yes, but now I have this new model about "writing with the door closed", riding the white-hot wave of inspiration, momentum, etc. The problem with "The Problem With Danny" and with Amra is that I've put them down too long -- the ashes in the fireplace are cold. That doesn't mean they're dead -- I may come back to them -- but it means it's no easier to finish them now than it will be in a month or two. In fact it may be harder -- I'm still distracted by trying to recapture what I was trying to say earlier and only half-remember. The best thing is to just leave them in my notebook for when I either have a flash of inspiration about them, or for later when I can read them fresh and create something wholly new. This has worked before -- "The Ant King" started as a bizarre one-page fragment that lay in my notebook for weeks, if not months, before I picked it up again. The problem isn't picking stuff up again; it's trying to force myself to finish a particular project that's gone cold.

So, 2000 words a day. That's a lot; I've written a good deal more sometimes when I was particularly inspired -- "The Ant King" is 6,000 words, and after picking it up again I finished it in one sitting -- but I've never tried to anything close as a planned, daily routine. So far, I haven't managed: I set the goal for myself Saturday evening, and I wrote 1000 words on Saturday and 700 on Sunday. Still, this is a very high level of production for me, so I can't complain much. We'll see how I do today.

So far it's called "A Siege of Cranes" (which is actually the animal group name for cranes -- doesn't that rock?), though I have no idea how the cranes fit in, if at all. It's a lark, though. I'm stealing liberally from the backstory I wrote for Sanctum, a technique I learned from Sanctum's artist (and my main backstory co-creator for that game), Lee Moyer, who happily pulls an image from one of his works, spins and morphs it and sticks it in another -- which saves time, creates continuity, and acts as a kind of ironic web of self-reference inside his oeuvre (my god, did I really just say that? I am sooooooo pretentious!)  Mainly it saves time, though. ;->

Also got a fast-turnaround rejection for "Susie", another poem-turned-flash-fiction-story, from Vestal Review, and sent "The White City" off to the Glimmer Train Very Short Fiction Contest (where I don't think it has a prayer, but what do I know? It is very short, at least).