Mark Hunter (ozma914) wrote,
Mark Hunter

My Long History With Short Stories

This seems to have unintentionally become short story month on my blog, which is ironic considering how very long April has been this year. What the heck: Here's the full story of the magazine publication I mentioned earlier, and why it's a big deal for me.

To understand how big a deal this is, you have to understand I've been writing short stories since I was eleven years old. Maybe ten. Maybe twelve, who knows?

I can't show you those stories, to demonstrate how good they were. Even if they still existed I couldn't, because--well--they weren't good. But I got started early, and all through middle and high school I wrote short stories (instead of studying), along with the occasional novel draft (which were also bad).

I wasn't yet eighteen when I started submitting them to science fiction magazines. (At the time all my short stories were SF, while my longer works were split between SF and firefighting adventures.) My submissions had one thing in common with my stories: They were bad.

But they got better. That's what it's all about.

As time went by I took three correspondence courses on writing, and filled a bookshelf full of volumes on writing, and read huge amounts of fiction, and got better. My aim: Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, the cream of the crop as far as I was concerned. It's still around, now called Asmov's Science Fiction:

And its editors still reject me, from time to time. It's nice to have traditions.

Meanwhile, when my first novel was published, I told the publisher that I'd written some related short stories I wanted to give away, to promote the book. They said, "Sure--just send them all in, we'll publish them together!"

I said, "Huh?"

So I wrote even more short stories to fill it out, put them all in one manuscript, and they published it as Storm Chaser Shorts, a title I'm afraid I have to take the blame for. They're pretty good, if I do say so myself ... but they weren't magazine publication.

Meanwhile, I was a humor columnist for local newspapers, and they printed some Christmas related short stories by me. Then I got some stories printed in anthologies, which was great. But, doggone it, I wanted that first magazine credit! By now it had become a forty-five year obsession. I'd been collecting rejection letters in a box, until they went digital and I collected them in an e-mail box. Sometimes I'd get encouraging personal rejections, which in this industry is so close to in, but they were still rejections.

Then, one day, an e-mail came back that said, "Readable story." It seemed like the beginning of another "pretty good but" rejection, but it was just understatement.

My trials and tribulations weren't quite over, because the magazine's publisher had an illness and death in the family. I was accepted in September of last year, and it wasn't until the March issue of this year that "Grocery Purgatory" hit the cover of "The Fifth Di ..." I either missed it or it actually came out late, because I was surprised with a contributor's copy in April.

And there it is, at 98 pages a magazine so thick it's almost a book, for just ten bucks and change. You want to do me a favor? You do? I thought so. Order you and your family a copy, tell all your friends, and get the word around. Why? Because I want to get published in more magazines. Maybe even, someday, Asimov's.

And even after throwing away the bad ones, I still have stories to submit ... and even more to write.

Tags: genre writing, humor writing, publishing, science fiction, sf, short story, storm chaser shorts, the fifth di ..., writing

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