Sunday, April 11, 2010

122 And Submission Stats

Just sent out story 122, a flash piece called One With Everything. Another one I didn't plan on, but there you go. Only 49 stories to go this year and only 878 more before I'm fifty! 123 is waiting in the wings, I just need Tony to send a little British postage my way. At least I think it's 123. I thought it was 122 until a couple hours ago.

That was my 603rd submission. On the occasion of my 600th submission the other night, I looked over my submissions and mentioned a few that were important to me on Twitter. Here they are again, with some extra info, for those of you that care:

* I sent out my first submission on May 8th, 1991. Almost 19 years ago.That story was called Lives and Times (Number 1 in the canon, of course). The style of the story crawled out of the 1950's and the writing was poor, of course. I still think the idea is cool enough that I won't spill it here in case I want to reuse it in the future.

I sent it to Amazing Stories. I had picked up my first copy of Amazing in high school and there was an address therein to send for submission guidelines. I was excited to receive that little pamphlet and that's what sparked my interest in writing for science fiction mags. My first dream was to be published in Amazing. That dream was the first of many to go down the shitter. :D The most wonderful thing about Amazing was that they were a major magazine that would give you feedback on your story. Even the first story you ever wrote. Even if they had to tear out your intestines and stomp on them. I got a few rejections from an assistant editor before they folded and she was deliciously ruthless. "Why don't don't they just stick a knife in you?" my then girlfriend, later former wife asked. I wish I had kept those particular rejections. They probably wouldn't look nearly as bad to me today as they felt back then.

* Made my first sale with submission 115. October 1st, 1998. Got paid in copies (5). That was a story called Better Than Anything (Story number 6), a superhero story that I still like, though I haven't read it in a long time. It was for a publication called Between the Leaves that Barnes & Noble published, of stories written by Barnes & Noble employees. I was working for B. Dalton Booksellers then, which was owned by B&N. I had already amassed a pile of rejections by that time and although they didn't pay money, I sent the story in, because I figured if I couldn't get into that book, then I super-sucked as a writer. I'm happy that I didn't super-suck. If you guys remind me, I'll post the story on this blog as it's out of print now.

* My first (and so far only) pro sale was submission 383. March 2nd, 2007. That was Fluff and Buttons on the Teddy Bear Range (Story 35), published in Chiaroscuro. I created this story as a lark at work. I was working at the now defunct Linens N Things at the time. We had these teddy bear greeting cards at a register no one used, so the cards never sold. The cards had sepia-toned photos of teddy bears on them. The bear on one card looked like a pioneer sitting in front of a cabin. It looked very lonely out there by itself and I wondered what kind of horrors lurked outside of that cabin when the night fell. I wrote the first draft of the flash fiction story on a piece of receipt tape as I walked the store's aisles. I was supposed to be managing something I think, but in the long run, the story proved a much better use of my forty-five minutes.

I sent the story around and nearly wet myself with glee when I got a phone call from Harper's (yes, that Harper's) about it. It was an intern who told me that Harper's didn't publish micro-fiction, but if I could expand on the story they'd love to see the result. He also told me they loved the opening so much they posted it up on their bulletin board in the office. Harper's! You are probably more astonished by the fact that I'd have the balls to send the story there, than the fact that they asked for a rewrite. You know what they say about no guts. Needless to say, I wrote the shit out of that story. Also needless to say, they rejected it.

It soon made its way to Chiaroscuro and I considered it a long shot, because Chiaroscuro is a horror zine, but from the bears view that story was pure horror. It's no longer up at that site, because they only run stories for about 15 months, but read the zine anyway. You can listen to the audio version of the teddy story at Cossmass Infinities (and while you're there, check out their other episodes, because it's a great podcast with awesome theme music).

* I hope to hit submission 700 by the end of this year. I better hustle! I actually think my submission goal for this year was 200 submissions, so I should hit number 787 by the end of the year.

Now, back to fiction.

5 comments:

Church said...

"The bear on one card looked like a pioneer sitting in front of a cabin. It looked very lonely out there by itself and I wondered what kind of horrors lurked outside of that cabin when the night fell. I wrote the first draft of the flash fiction story on a piece of receipt tape as I walked the store's aisles. I was supposed to be managing something I think, but in the long run, the story proved a much better use of my forty-five minutes."

Hells, yeah. It's not "Creepy Little Mailbox Man," but it's still good enough for Harpers...

Elke said...

Only 49 to go and still 2/3 of the year left. You're unstoppable! Okay, a dream or two went down the shitter, but you dreamed up more!

My mother happens to have just finished "Fluff and Buttons on the Teddy Bear Range." I sent her this creation tale, too. Unlike me & Church, she was concerned about the impropriety. She says it certainly was a very good story, even made her "misty," and you are clearly talented, but she simply cannot condone that kind of behavior in the workplace.

By the way, when she heard that the Chilean earthquake caused the day to get shorter by microseconds, she said (say it with me), "sss...stuff like this is why we can't get ahead!" I hope this provides amusement to make up for the chastisement.

Wendy Wagner; said...

Wow. You are totally my new hero. I don't think I've even broken 100 subs yet, so I feel in complete awe of your persistence. And organization. I really need to start keeping better track of my stories so that when I hit *my* 600th submission, I can celebrate it in proper style!

Diane said...

Consider yourself reminded! About the superhero story. It was fun to gear the back story to the stories so to speak.

Matthew Sanborn Smith said...

Thanks, Church!

Elke, it goes without saying that your mother is a better person than I and for someone I barely know, I think she's wonderful.

I don't feel a whit of guilt about shafting the company for forty-five minutes, as Linens N Things ate my soul for sixty to eighty hours a week for years (salary, no overtime).

Wendy, let the spreadsheet be your friend.

Diane, thanks for the reminder. I'd already forgotten. I'm formatting it now. As for back stories, I love sharing them because I always want to know about how other creators work. There's a back story to that superhero story as well, which (If you remind me again), I'll post a day or two after the story. Also, be a pal and read the story to Church.