Will I be a one-hit wonder?

As I go through my Vacation in the Golden Age, I’ve started to discover some writers who wrote a few stories in the genre and then disappeared. Some of these stories are quite fantastic and as it turns out, science fiction is full of these “one-hit wonders”. (I use the term loosely, of course, since some writers had a couple of good stories before disappearing.)

Lately, I’ve wondered (with a mild shudder) if I will turn out to be this type of writer.

Up until now, I’ve sold three stories, all to professional science fiction magazines. The first I sold in 2007; the second in 2009 and the third in late 2010 and so it seems that there is a shorter time between sales. However, that is somewhat of an illusion because I am writing more and submitting more, which means I am also being rejected a lot more between sales. The troubling part of this to me is that I feel like my work is improving. And yet, since I sold “Take One for the Road” to Analog, I’ve had a string of 10 consecutive rejections–at least half of which for a story that I think is even better than “Take One for the Road”. It can be frustrating.

And it makes me wonder if I will be one of those writers who sells a few stories in the genre and then fades away. I hope not, of course, and I will do my best to avoid that, but every now and then I can’t help feel that despite all my effort, it is just not enough. And then I think of those one-hit wonders of science fiction and I ask: did they ever worry over this? Were they happy to be free of the genre? Did they just run out of steam? Couldn’t make the cut?

It’s time I got cracking on that next story and prove myself wrong.


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