Monday, March 05, 2007

Frustration

When I was in high school, I figured I'd have at least one novel published by the time I was thirty years old. I'm now thirty-one, and there's no book. I can say (with less and less pride) that I am a paid writer. Wait. I suppose I shouldn't say "with less and less pride". I am proud to say I write for a living and get paid for it.

At one point, I had been obsessed to find a job where I'd be paid to write, no matter the job. But you know what they say: be careful what you wish for. I write for a living everyday, and for the most part, I enjoy it. The thing is, it's not science fiction. Or fiction of any sort. And for me, that's frustrating. I do take some solace in the fact that my writing is validated. My boss, more than once (and on a constant basis), says I am a good writer.

That validation is much needed because, for so long, I wasn't so sure I was a good writer. I couldn't get anything published, especially sci-fi. I started out writing very bad sci-fi. I mean, really bad. Of course, at the time, I didn't think it was bad. I knew it wasn't writing Nebula Award winning science fiction, but I thought what I had written was decent. If anything, I had enjoyed what I was writing, and that was the most important thing.

My friend Karen told me awhile ago that it was more important that I write for myself than for others. And to a certain extent, that's true. But if you want to be a paid writer, you have to (again, to a certain extent) write for others. If other people don't like to read what you write, you don't have a market. And if you don't have a market, you're not a paid writer.

These days, it's quite easy to be published with all of the online zines and vanity presses out there. I'll admit I've submitted work to some of these knowing I'd be published, knowing it was a stroke (if brief) to my writing ego. I'm at the point now where if the publication isn't offering payment for my work, whether print or online, then I'm not submitting.

Professionals get paid for their services. Of course, there are exceptions--both with professionals offering their services for free and notable publications not offering payment--but I'm not there yet.

Right now, I need to have my work, my sci-fi- stories, published in paying print and/or online magazines. I'm close, though. I have a few sci-fi stories out there in limbo. One has been "tentatively" accepted by an online mag.

Though, if I'm truthful with myself, they're going to offer me a kill fee and let me shop it to another mag. My wife would say that's being pessimistic. I'd say that's being realistic. Doesn't stop me from checking my email thirty times a day, though. The thing is, I believe these stories are good. I'd go as far as to say very good. Maybe not award-winning, but they're different and even have a bit of originality.

And that's where the frustration comes in. If these stories are so good, why aren't they being published? I won't answer that question. Yet.

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