Was feeling very blah about the revision of this middle grade book, so I took a break and wrote a short story. It was not easy. I finally hacked together a draft, but I think the story still needs a lot of work. It’s a pretty weird one. It’s about college students who live in a world where you get vaginal implants and penile sheaths that directly exchange information with each other about your sexual desires (so there’s never a need to actually communicate with your partners, and yes, in this world PiV intercourse is king). Some parts of the story came out really well. Other parts, particularly the setting and one of the characters, are not yet there.
Stories are not simple. I go through so many false starts and weird run-arounds before I write one. And then, in the end, it comes to nought at least three fourths of the time.
I actually just went and looked this up. Since 2010, when I made my second professional sale, I’ve written 132 stories and sold about 25% of them. And the numbers don’t go up appreciably when I constrain the listing to recent years. In fact, they go down (though part of this is that there just hasn’t been enough time within which the stories could sell).
This doesn’t strike me as an amazing hit rate.
What’s odd is I don’t think I’ve become a worse author. In fact I think I’ve become rather better. But I don’t know that it’s been especially apparent in my sales percentage or in the reception of the stories that I do sell. Mostly they seem to vanish (which is completely fair, since few of them are particularly groundbreaking).
Hopefully I’m just developing my voice, and it’ll all come together someday.
Which actually probably sounds like a pretty snotty and entitled thing to say to most of my blog readership. I’ve sold about fifty stories at this point, and I’ve sold to many of the major science fiction and fantasy short story markets (often multiple times). I remember a time when it seemed literally impossible to get a ‘yes’ from some of these places. I mean I had something like 80 stories rejected by Lightspeed before John Joseph Adams finally took one.
And yet in my mind I still feel very much like a beginner. It’s an odd thing. I wonder if it ever goes away.