Sunday, November 29, 2009
Last week I was contacted by Fiction Magazine. They accepted a story of mine for publication. This is, of course, great news. Fiction magazine is carried by better independent bookstores, such as Brookline Booksmith, has been around since the early 70s, and backs up a wonderful history of supporting "new, emerging voices."
The story behind getting into Fiction is worth telling. I sent them my story almost three years ago, in February 2007. The story was fashioned from an outtake of a novel I was working on at the time. It was a stand-alone chapter that dealt with the second love experience of my teenage protagonist, and it didn't fit, so taking it out didn't upset any balance.
Separate from the framework of the novel, and after some revision, the piece stood on its own. Except for the ending. The original ending trails off. The stand-alone version couldn't trail off, it needed a concrete finish. This is the toughest part of shaping novel excerpts or outtakes; you must rework them so that they still make sense outside of the context of the novel. Because this was an outtake, I wasn't worried about maintaining the original spirit of the novel and could make it into what ever I wanted.
I reworked the ending to summarize the bittersweet end of a summer-long teenage relationship. I wasn't sure it worked, so I kept the ending brief; not overwriting, hoping not to call attention to any shortcomings. I sent the story out to Fiction. I must not have been confident with what I had written because I didn't send it elsewhere, and I never revised it.
When I opened and read the acceptance email, it took a couple minutes to realize what I was looking at. Most magazines/journals today will tell submitting writers that if they are not interested in your submission, you will not hear back. So it's heartening to know that us writers are not sending stuff out into an anonymous event horizon. That time waiting for a response isn't time wasted. And that if you sent a story out last year, the year before, or even the year before that, there's still hope. That somebody is spending late nights and weekends reading submissions from the slush pile in hopes of finding an unsung story, an unsung writer, another emerging voice.