Tuesday, May 17, 2005


It's been almost two months since I sent my crappy short story to ten literary magazines. For a while, I bemoaned the fact that I had heard nothing.

Now I wish they'd stop sending me their cruel, heartless hate mail intended only to remind me what a talentless hack I am.

I've gotten three responses. The good news is that, apparently, all three publications are perfectly willing to accept my money, as all three have included subscription request forms in the self-addressed, stamped envelopes that I conveniently provided to them. The bad news is that I do not know how to write a good short story.

Now, now. No need to pipe up with, "No, Spiral! You're a great writer! Getting published is tough, and even the greatest writers have to deal with the inexplicable mayhem of the literary world." Fact is, no one reading this blog has ever read my fiction. For all you know, the story I sent out begins with "It was a dark and stormy night" and ends with "… and the world exploded and everybody died." Or, it may even begin with a ridiculous sentence like this: "Like every man, I remember the precise circumstances of my first waking orgasm." (Okay, that is really how it begins.)

I have no audience for my fiction writing right now, which may be why I am doing virtually no fiction writing. My writing class ended a month ago. I can't possibly post anything serious on line, because that would create the risk of someone saying that something serious I've written sucks. For similar reasons, I'm afraid to show my wife or anyone else anything beyond the casual, underdeveloped thoughts I post here. I haven't even gotten a handwritten "You suck" on the form letter rejections I've received.

One mystery has been solved, however. Returning the first page of your story is a rejection. One of the form letters I received said, "Thanks, you suck, and we're enclosing the first page of your story so you can keep track of which story we're rejecting, and thus which story sucks the worst." Despite that note, they didn't enclose the first page of the story, which seemed odd. How do they know I've only sent out one story? Can they tell I'm an unschooled beginner who has spent 33 years building up to that little 15-page sputtering ejaculation of cliches and triteness?

Anyway, I have to get back to my self-pitying.


Blogger Henry Baum said...

No, Spiral! You're a great writer! Getting published is tough, and even the greatest writers have to deal with the inexplicable mayhem of the literary world.

...Can I read the story? Really? You read my novel which was the product of a ridiculously bitter 20-year-old. Full of flaws. I'm glad to see you back blogging at least. I just made 8 more submissions myself. Hopeful, but not getting my hopes up.

By the way, my first waking orgasm happened on a dark and stormy night.

3:14 PM  
Blogger Spiral Stairs said...

Henry, you drive a hard bargain. I will carefully consider your request that I deviate from my "No-one-reads-anything-I've-written-unless-and-until-I've-won-a-major-international-book-award-for-it" rule. If I do give it to you, the e-mail attaching it will be utterly soaked in caveats about how much the story sucks.

I guess I was in a blogging rut again. Luckily, Joseph K is the Cal Ripken of blogging. No downturns for him. It makes it easier for me to slack off, knowing he will populate our site with quality content.

4:18 PM  
Blogger Joseph K said...

Quality content? Personally, I think Joseph K sucks. Just don't tell him I said that.

8:37 PM  

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