The mail arrived a few minutes ago and included among today’s delivery was my first contract and check for a story sale! How cool is that! The contract itself is very simple, straight-forward and in plain English, making it easy to understand, but I already knew what rights to the story I was selling going in. There were two copies, one for my files, the other of which I must sign and return. I will get it in the mail on Monday, before I head to L.A. My story, “When I Kissed the Learned Astronomer”, will be appearing in less than a month.
While I did get paid for the story (and IGMS pays “professional” word rates, so the check was substantial) the bigger deal for me is the sale itself, not the amount I received. I’m almost tempted to frame the check instead of cashing it. Instead, of course, I will deposit the check , retain one-third of it to pay any income taxes that I will owe on it, and use the remainder to celebrate this achievement of mine in some way.
Now all that’s left is for the story to appear and I am both excited and anxious for that to happen. I’m excited for all of the obvious reasons, proud of my achievement, can’t wait to show it off to friends and family, etc. I am anxious, however, at how it will be received. While I admire and appreciate stylistic writing, like that of Alfred Bester, Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, and Barry Malzberg, to name a few, my primary focus is not on being artsy with my style (for the most part), but in telling a good story. I write to entertain and I think that should be the first goal of any fiction, science fiction or otherwise. It would please me greatly if people who read my story enjoyed it for the fun tale that it is. But will readers whom I have never met actually enjoy it? Certainly if they don’t, I will hear about it and hopefully, I will have the good sense to learn from it, to see how I can improve in my craft.
And what about future stories? I’m working my way through the expanded version of “Graveyard Shift”, but none of the several other short science fiction stories I have going are moving well at all. No one wants to be a “one sale” writer. Just yesterday, I received a rejection note for my science fiction poem “Schrodinger’s Intersection” from STRANGE HORIZONS. I’ve made one sale, and naturally, I want to do it again. But I want to do it right, I don’t want to over-do it. I imagine these worries and concerns are common for all freshman writers, but saying so and realizing it is so doesn’t make the task any easier. Still, I am more inspired than ever before, regardless of my worries and hopefully that inspiration will prove fruitful.