The theme for this month is Your Greatest Triumph, and if I’m totally honest, I’m actually torn between three separate things. Before you groan and roll your eyes, it’s incredibly difficult for me to admit to ANYTHING positive, so for me to even think of one is a personal achievement. So permit me, if you will, to list them out and explain how I got there. Sometimes it’s good to remind yourself of the high points among all the rejection.
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but I only started submitting my stories for publication in 2005. This was back when Internet connectivity wasn’t as great as it is now, and every single story I submitted was either ignored or rejected outright. On 10 March 2008 (I checked my inbox!) I submitted a short story entitled The Midas Box to Bending Spoons, an online magazine I found through the now-defunct EditRed. On 7 April 2008 they published it, and it felt amazing. Sure, it wasn’t Weird Tales or Realms of Fantasy, but it was my story and it was online where other people could read it. You can read it here, but be aware that a revised version appears in my Checkmate & Other Tales story collection.
Lesson: Keep submitting. You’ll get there in the end.
First Fan Mail
Fan mail might be quite strong a word, but on February 8 2009, my flash fiction, Left, appeared on Everyday Weirdness (also in Checkmate – just saying). It was just a short piece, inspired by a doll’s house I’d encountered that had scattered furniture and no dolls, but a lovely gent emailed me to say that he’d enjoyed the story, and compared my writing to that of Ray Bradbury and Neil Gaiman. I just about fell out of my chair when I read that – so if you find a story online that you like, let the author know. It will mean the world to them.
Lesson: People you don’t even know are reading and enjoying your work. So keep writing.
I’d had stories in printed anthologies, and I always get a kick out of seeing my name in print, but the crowning glory had to be the publication of my pulp Western, The Guns of Retribution. It was cool to see it for sale for the Kindle, but to actually have a hard copy in my hands was just immense. It’s bizarre to think that people have physical copies on their bookshelves of something I wrote after an editor found my work online, and emailed me to ask me to write a tale of revenge in the Old West.
Lesson: Only put your best work online, you don’t know who’s reading.