On Friday I announced my first full-length short story sale. This sale will allow me to qualify for an SFWA membership, which has been a milestone I’ve aimed for. It was also my second sale to Mike Resnick at Galaxy’s Edge and sixth overall professional sale. But there’s a little bit of a story behind it.
Martian Maintenance started as a flash fiction story I wrote for an anthology call about a hotel that has a lot of weird things that happen in it. Obviously, I didn’t crack the slushpile for that call, but the editor had a lot of nice things to say in her rejection letter. The story is far more humorous and with a snarky narrator, very different than anything I’ve written before. So when the rejection came I sat on the piece, unsure of what to do with it next. Humor is a bit of a hard sell in Science Fiction magazines.
I go on Youtube quite frequently to watch interviews with a lot of popular writers on their inspirations and creative processes. I happened to watch one with Mike Resnick and in the interview, he mentioned that he wished there was more humor in Science Fiction. It clicked that I was still sitting on Martian Maintenance so I sent it off to Galaxy’s Edge on Wednesday.
On Thursday night I got the rejection slip. My heart fell until I saw that it was a little longer than the usual form. I’ve received a few personal rejections from Mike since my original sale to him and there’s always useful info so I gave it a read. He didn’t like the resolution of the story and invited me to submit again. It was a rewrite request, my first!
Friday morning I was pretty unsure of what to do. I reread the story several times but couldn’t figure out what was wrong with the ending or how to rework it. I sent it over to two writer friends to get opinions and ideas. The story ended up clicking in my head and in a flurry of words, I had a new ending typed up in about fifteen minutes. I reread the story for errors twice and once aloud and sent it off before I could second guess myself. An hour and a half later I got an acceptance letter. I was stoked.
In the revision process, the story started just under 1k words. I trimmed 150 words off of it to get rid of the old ending and then doubled the size of the piece to an end word count of 1,655 words. I wasn’t sure he’d like the length size increasing so much but I was pleased to have a story solidly in short story territory sell.
Overall, it was a fun and exciting experience to get a rewrite request and deal with the pressure of getting it right. I’m working on a secret short story for a third party IP that I’ve been straining to get written as well as an original short story so it was nice to get a break with a different kind of pressure. Succeeding felt great and working on multiplle things at once and writing under pressue made me feel like a real true writer for the first time in my life. It feels great.