Sunday, March 14, 2010

It took 25+ years to get this story published

I wrote the first draft of "The Devil Is Her Friend," then "Half Death," in December 1984, which means in Seattle. (I'd moved there from L.A. in August, using extra money from an NEH fellowship for high school teachers to fund the adventure.) I don't have the earliest drafts--I don't hold onto much. I do, however, have my lovely blue cloth notebook--a gift from an L.A. friend. I recorded stories written and submitted until 1991 in that book.

Back then I had energy and like a Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney prototype, gumption. I submitted it to The New Yorker, Hudson Review, Kenyon Review. My notes indicate they scribbled encouraging replies on the rejection slips. I received a generous number of "send more" slips to little avail.

My impulse should have been to submit first to smaller reviews, absorb their suggestions, then try the most competitive journals, but I used to be afraid I was depriving myself of a chance to join the mystical fellowship of the self-affirming egotistical hierarchy. Now I laugh at my idiocy. My story is out there. I am mo-fo thrilled.

The obvious thing is, however, that it took circa twenty-five years to get this story published. On the one hand (as they say), well, I can see that I tinkered on the story for years. On the other (another comment of theirs), holy crap. I mean the story hasn't that significantly changed. I spruced up this and that by means of cheekier dialog.

I agreed, a few years ago, with some review editors who loved it (they said), wouldn't published it, but suggested I remove a section in which Pearl decides what book she'll read while other teachers are lip servicing the priest. I love that delted section, a meditation on favorite books, but realized they were right, that few readers if any readers were interested in that kind of decision.

About six months ago, editors at WON'T BE NAMED wrote me they like this story "very" much but wanted me to delete another section. It's 2,500-word story. What did they want? This was the third story of mine they'd read--the first was over-the-transom, the next two were requests--ever in search of the perfect Sarai story, I guess.

I didn't delete any more, impolitely told them to screw off, and sent the story to Stone's Throw. (Do you know how talented, intelligent, beautiful, insightful and Russell Rowland and Tami Haaland & co. are, not to mention Russell was figure skating champion in Minsk five years in a row and Tami has been coaching Gold's Gym weight lifters for forty years.)

And herein lies a tale in a tale in a riddle in an enigma in Stone's Throw.

GO TO (and spy on the fiction links until you unearth my covert link), or boldly clink on or cut and paste:

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