Friday, March 19, 2010

End and Beginning, Mothwings go Spinning...


First of all, if any of you get that reference in the title, I'll be pretty damned impressed. Anyway, as you know, I posted the last episode of the first story arc of The Dark InSpectre earlier this week, bringing to a close a story I started writing about 5 years ago as close as I can figure. I've been thinking about that over the last few days, reflecting on what a journey that story has taken since I first dreamed the opening scene. It started out as a long short story, about 14,000 words. What does that make it, a novellete?

I submitted it to a couple of venues, got some feedback, was told the ending was completely out of character. And it was. So I revised it and then submitted it to the Baen slush board when their web magazine was first starting. It really split the editorial team there. Some liked it, some didn't. The managing editor at the time said that after reading it she felt like she needed to wash out her brain. Personally, if I can provoke that kind of reaction, I take that as a compliment. But it wasn't going to get kicked upstairs to the main editors. From some other feedback I'd been getting, I got the vibe that maybe it was too long. So I slashed it by about five thousand words.

And it did get kicked upstairs. I waited about a year and a half--and it got rejected. I was upset to say the least. For two reasons. One was the time frame, waiting that long is ridiculous for a professional caliber magazine. I don't care how busy you are writing novels. Get help. Also, I completely disagreed with the main flaw the editor had a problem with. He didn't buy the explanation for the existence of telepaths. What can I say? My explanation's pretty simple and has been used in many different forms and stories: genetic mutation triggered by radiation bombs that gets passed down. It's simple, it makes sense.

But the point was it got rejected. I also learned a valuable lesson. I shouldn't have shortened the story, I think that made it worse. So I patched it back up and looked for other markets. But not many magazines publish something of that length. So I waited and waited, and eventually put it on the back shelf. Then on a popular message board for scifi writers, I saw a posting by an editor who said she would serialize a longer piece if it was good enough. Bingo.

I got in touch with her and our collaboration was born. And let me tell you, the work didn't end there. Crystalwizard, as she is known, had me rework whole sections of the story. And you know what? It made the story better. And I learned and grew as a writer throughout the process. So in the end it worked out. That chapter is now closed. It was quite a journey. For a while, I despaired that this story that I absolutely had to tell would never see the light of day. I'm glad it has, but all stories end. Now it's on to the next story arc in the Dark InSpectre universe, and I'm totally psyched about it. Stay tuned, the ride has just begun.

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