Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Another Stop on the Rejection Train

I finally got word back from Weird Tales about my short piece, "Knights of the Road". Another rejection for the proverbial pile. The rejection letter was nice, though. Encouraging. And coming from a market like Weird Tales, that's saying something.

I opened it up and slashed the shit out of it. Took out even more extraneous words - hey, at least editing the novel is teaching me something - and now I have a product which is what I originally intended in the first place. I just needed several months' distance and a few kind words from a market editor. I like the story; it's solid, short, and frickin' scary. It's about a man who's been picked up by a creepy truck driver after his car has broken down. Here's a little excerpt:
“My wife would’ve given me hell if I hadn’t stopped,” the trucker said.

“Does she ride with you?”

“Oh, yeah,” the driver said. “Rides everywhere I haul, sittin’ up pretty as paint in that seat you’re in. She loves a crossword while I’m drivin’. Makes me crazy, askin’ me all the time if I know the words in ‘em.”

Owen shifted in his seat. The cab was becoming hot and stagnant with cigarette smoke. “She’s not with you on this trip?” He looked over his shoulder at the pink curtain.

“She got sick,” the trucker said. He shook his head, his lower lip jutting out like a shelf. “Real sick.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Oh, she still rides with me,” the trucker said, tapping his chest just above the bulge of his cigarette pack. He rubbed his fingers in a circle, right over his heart. The rasp of the man’s fingertips on the rough weave of his shirt made the skin between Owen’s shoulder blades shiver. “She watches out for me, keeps me company.”

She still rides with him? Owen wondered. He imagined a woman, tentacled with IV lines and trapped in the cage of a hospital bed, sandwiched into the back of the cab.

Owen searched for words to break the silence, trying to shove the image away. His treacherous mind replaced the trucker’s sick wife with the trucker’s dead wife, a see-through woman outlined in misty gray hues like a cheap television ghost, sitting right where he was, overlaying his skin and wet clothes with her presence.

Holding a transparent crossword puzzle book in one spectral hand.

“What… what’s her name?” Owen asked. He wanted to turn around for another look at that curtain again, but held himself in check. Was that a tiny tickle of motion back there in the blocked-off sleeper section of the truck?

Of course not, he thought. Just stop it.
What do y'all think?

It was nice to get away from being mired in the briar patch of editing my novel. Honestly, this is one of the most frustrating things I've ever done, writing-wise. Editing is TEN TIMES HARDER than writing. Whew. Trying hard not to get discouraged over here.

I sent the revised copy of "Knights of the Road" out to Apex Magazine. One of the biggies. But hey... shoot for the moon, right? Even if you don't make it, you fall among the stars. Wish me luck, fellow astronauts.


Arlee Bird said...

Like the story so far. Amassing rejections could be worse-- never submitting anything. Toss enough out there and eventually something gonna stick.

Tossing It Out


Don't give up, it seemed a good write, there is someone out there who will be interested. Tenacity is a word I often think about when things go wrong,


Unknown said...

I like it! Just a short excerpt and already I want more. Don't give up :)

Anne Gallagher said...

Editing is harder than writing but it's worth it, of course. Just keep plugging away.

Sorry about the short, sounds like a creepy story. Just the little excerpt was enough to give me goose-bumps. great job.

True Life and Fiction said...

I think the piece was wonderful. The good thing is that you are getting it out there. Rejection can be tough. I've recently decide to delve into the slush pile and have, so far, received two rejection letters for my first ever submission. I submitted it in two markets. But hey, at least I was given two personalized letters, and I've already submitted to another market and added a story . I like to look at it as if I'm sticking my toes in the pool to check the water. Like everyone else has said, keep throwing your work up against stuff, and sooner or later, something's gonna stick.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You've got a great attitude, B! That will take you places. Just keep sending it out.

~Val said...

Never doubt yourslf. You are a strikingly talented writer, and you are only honing your skills to a sharp, gleaming point. I'd love to read this one. Will you send me a copy?

Sarah Ahiers said...

oh yeah, editing takes way more work that writing, imo.
sucks about the rejection, but the good thing about shorts, and horror shorts at there, there are TONS of other mags out there.

B. Miller said...

Thank you so much for all the encouragement!! Y'all are awesome. You should see the smile on my face! Don't worry, I'll keep y'all posted on the fate of this one. And Val... sure, I'll be happy to send you a copy! :)

Jemi Fraser said...

I like it - creepy - not sure I want to know what's behind the curtain!

Slashing used to scare me - now I love it - so much fun to see the tighter product at the end. :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Don't give up!!!!

K M Kelly said...

Weird Tales is a tough market so to get feedback like that from them is an achievement in itself. You'll sell this, and sooner rather than later I'll bet!

Karen Jones Gowen said...

I like it! This brief scene really sucked me in, I want to read the rest of the story.

Hart Johnson said...

Very nice! I love your shorts! (though not your shorts, because THOSE might as well be pants, and you KNOW how I am about pants!)

But I think time and other works really DO give you a better ability to get back to it and make a story closer to what you intended. Sounds like it is getting there!

Raquel Byrnes said...

I really like it. Especially the line about the dry fingers rasping on the material...CREE-PY!

Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming!