Friday, May 29, 2009

Dispatches from the Toaster-Oven

The plasma shield is firmly in place over my inbox again. Who keeps doing this to me? I have seven story submissions out in the world. Two are contests. I never do contests, and here's why:
  • Contests cost money.
  • Stay-at-home-moms always win.
  • I was never good at standardized tests.
  • Waiting for the results is so much fun.
These contests were at least free, which is how I got suckered into it. It's not like I haven't won contests in the past. Winning, sadly, gave me an inflated sense of my own accomplishment that was inversely equal to the sense of failure I got from losing other contests. I quit contests about the time I stopped financing a certain high tone literary 'zine with my contest submissions. Reading fee, anyone?

Another submission out right now is just like a contest, as there is only one slot in the issue. Did I know it was a last man standing sort of thing? Probably. But I sent it during one of those times that seem to creep up on me when I realized, idiot, you don't have anything out there in the world. Better send something somewhere RIGHT NOW. I wonder if this happens to other writers, this brown-colored boredom with one's Duotrope stats that can suddenly erupt into a full-blown career emergency.

And you'd think, with such a casual beginning, the submission would maintain a kind of easy impact on the psyche. "Did I submit this old thing to that old magazine? I forgot all about it! Now you're sending this little ol' check to moi?"

That never happens to me. I'm much more likely to have the submission grow in the dark like a mushroom until it is the only thing I can think about, night or day. While my friend is discussing supreme court justices over dinner, I've got a frozen smile fixed in place and I'm thinking, "Why won't he shut up and realize I'm waiting for an e-mail? The contest is over in FIVE DAYS and if I can't check my mail RIGHT NOW I'm going to DIE."

One might be tempted to suggest that the Toaster-Oven People have completely taken over at this point.

Anyway, what am I reading? Just finished The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks. Lest you think I hate all science fiction trilogies (starting with the concept of trilogies) let me tell you, this is a good, readable piece of popular literature. The tone is William Gibson lite: quiet, observant, meticulous. The ideas are easy to grasp but complex and resonant. I liked both Gabriel and Michael as characters. I saw their motivation, understood their goals. Maya, who is a very engaging construct, seemed in some ways the least developed. She had a life before she was drawn back into the role of a harlequin. She seemed to switch over too easily. I wondered what impacts her normal life had on her harlequin life. Just my opinion. Maybe the story is more about Gabriel anyway. The fact that I have to ask who the main character is. . . well, anyhow, I really liked it.

Now I'm starting The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. No comments yet, though something tells me there might be religious overtones.

This has been fun but I really need to check my e-mail.

1 comment:

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