I didn’t get into Clarion. No explanation was given, other than the obvious: they receive hundreds of applications every year, and mine simply didn’t meet their specific needs. I’m okay with this, although I was feeling the sting yesterday. I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t disappointed.
Got my first personal rejection from Strange Horizons, which is one of my favorite fiction markets. After 72 days of waiting, I committed the greatest folly to ever plague the emerging writer: I got my goddamn hopes up.
And then, right on cue, at the pinnacle of my story-selling fantasy, the email came. Sorry, no thanks.
It pointed out a few overlooked flaws in my premise, reasons why my characters’ relationships with one another weren’t entirely believable, but it also complimented me on the worldbuilding. So my ideas are enough to give an editor pause, perhaps, but they need developed further.
So I plan to work on that. Practice, practice, practice.
My intuition, and the feedback I’ve gotten here and there, tells me that my initial drafting process is my greatest strength. I can produce decent words, and create a somewhat unified piece of literature. My weaknesses are what take place before, and then after, the dreaded first draft. Worldbuilding, plotting, character development, and revision; some of the most difficult things about the craft of fiction, so really not much of a surprise.
So “In the Arms of Lachiga” is out to the next market. And will surely go on to the next after that. It may end up getting absorbed entirely into the planned eventual novel, if its current form isn’t strong enough as-is. We’ll see.
In the meantime, I’ve got some exciting ideas for my Q2 Writers of the Future story — just need to actually draft them out. My time is growing truly precious, and I feel myself creeping toward a nervous breakdown of my own quiet design. Hopefully the anxiety will get expunged in the heat of writing.
Finished Gary A. Braunbeck’s To Each Their Darkness. What a beautiful fucking book.
Can’t even imagine where I’d begin with a real review; not sure I’ve got the nerve to try and criticize the man’s writing. His voice is strong and literary, his all-too-true tales as powerful as a shotgun blast to the chest. I’ve got insane respect for the man, and I’ll be seeking out more of his works.
You could say the book lacks focus, or organization, but damned if it isn’t a great read. It had me enthralled for hours and hours at a time. His history overshadowed whatever darkness I have to call my own ten-, maybe a hundred-fold. And his intermittent manifesto chapters on storytelling resonated deeply with me. His beliefs regarding both the potential value and present state of genre fiction spoke volumes of familiarity, and I think anyone planning to write speculative fiction would do right to follow his lead.
To finish on a lighter note, I saw The Adjustment Bureau and Battle: Los Angeles.
As a huge Philip K. Dick fan, who has somehow neglected to read the short story “Adjustment Team” so far, I was impressed by the choices made by the director regarding the nature of reality and of the adjustment officers themselves. Dick wasn’t a scientist; he was a philosopher of the metaphysical. Whatever its faults (there are some), the film got that much right, and as a Dickian acolyte I applaud it for that.
Battle: Los Angeles is basically the same alien invasion plot we’ve seen come out of Hollywood a hundred times, except this time they basically got it almost right. Aaron Eckhart, Transformers 2‘s Ramone Rodriguez, Ne-Yo, Michelle Rodriguez, and Gran Torino‘s Cory Hardrict make up a cast of U.S. Marines that for the most part behave intelligently and make believable strategic decisions. The design of the aliens was surprisingly original, but the technology of both their weaponry and spacecraft raised some suspicion. I kept thinking, Did human beings build this shit? Sure looks like it. Are those bullets? Rockets? Flying football stadiums? And while the aliens didn’t look remotely humanoid, they were bipedal, and moved like human infantry. Otherwise, I thought they looked cool as hell.
But overall, the movie is tense in all the right places, the action is necessary and believable, and the script is mature and intelligent in its portrayal of an event that’s rarely handled that way. It isn’t some heavyhanded metaphor for one specific human problem (you could make an argument for terrorism, but the creatures aren’t waging some mindless crusade a la George W. Bush — I mean, er, Al Qaeda); the creatures have a legitimate, scientifically sound reason for locating and seizing Earth. If you can overlook the difficulty of extraterrestrials with fairly crude technology finding Earth, and then getting here, I pretty much bought it. And it’s entertaining as hell. Lacked a certain sense of revelation — which is part of the appeal of science fiction, I think — but maybe that’s a way to leave open the possibility (but please, oh please, don’t!) of a sequel.