Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Graveyard of White Whales

Hello, my name is Aaron and I write short stories. Granted, the longest piece I've written was well over 100,000 words (my first "novel" and first piece of fiction I wrote), but after editing and trimming, it landed well within the 70K range. Yes, I cut 30,000 words.  Loathsome, Dark and Deep is only 67,000 words. Nothing else comes close.

I am a short story writer, and I'm not ashamed.

But things make me sad... like the white whale short story markets of yesteryear becoming the graveyard of today. After reinstating my account on Duotrope.com, I noted the following:

Of my reported acceptances (155 including poetry and reprints), 48 of those markets were dead (closed or defunct), including Everyday Weirdness, Necrotic Tissue, The Rose and Thorn Journal... some of my favorite stories had life there. Note those 48 markets represented more than 48 of my acceptances. Everyday Weirdness printed several stories and I was fortunate enough to place 3 with Necrotic Tissue. I loved those publications and did what I could to support them. Thanks to Nathan E. Lilly (Everyday Weirdness) and R. Scott McCoy (Necrotic Tissue) for everything they did to bring my stories and stories from other authors to readers' attention.

Short story venues die. It's the nature of the beast. My own brain child, 52 Stitches, is no more, but it had two years to run. It's time is done. But those which stick around? Wonderful. I'm proud to have a story in issue #118 of Space and Time. #118 people. The magazine has been around since before I was a zygote.

There are white whales I will chase and never capture before their deaths--this, too, is the nature of the beast. But I am a short story writer. I write short stories, and the submission/rejection process has made me a better writer. My stories are stronger because they've had to survive in a world of high casualty rates.

Here's a fear: writing is going to suffer in this do-it-yourself world. It already has. Why face rejections when I can easily publish myself via Smashwords, Kindle, Createspace and the like?* Why? Because, dear readers, without those white whales, even the dead ones, I would not have become the writer I am today. I wouldn't have sold a few stories to professional venues or found myself on any honorable mention lists. Writing short fiction is about the story, the art of words, and making life out of digital nothing. I want my stories to be like my flesh-and-bone children: resilient and beautiful.

Write on, chase those whales, and give some pause and respect when they leave us.

*Yes, I've published plenty of previously published material via these venues. But my first path--and it should always be a first path--was and remains the submissions trail and quest for those white whales.

1 comment:

Bobbie Metevier said...

When I was a kid, I remember walking into a 7-11--tacked on to the laundromat where my mother was washing comforters. I bought an issue of Space and Time right off the rack. :)