In an update to my incredulity regarding a recent personal rejection from Asimov's:
Sheila Williams wrote me to tell me that it was, after all, a personal rejection.
Well, I feel pretty stupid. I'd like to apologize to Sheila for being such an outrageous person; but I'd also like to thank her for illuminating me, on the one hand, and having more faith in my work than I do, on the other.
But it really makes me think. The story in question was one that really stung me. It was based on charter cities, an idea I discussed in depth with a friend while stuck in traffic outside Rebank, New Jersey on the 4th of July. It was so cool, and I thought I was so smart to write a sci-fi story about it, and what I ended up writing was not to my tastes.
So the problem is, I'm now basically certain that I never know whether I'm writing good or bad work. What I consider my "pièce de résistance" has been rejected... everywhere. And meanwhile, Sheila Williams - the Sheila Williams - actually liked one of the stories that made me feel like a small, incompetent writer.
Mi hermano Alex Kane was just blogging about this phenomenon: that "[you] never know what's good, you never know what works, and you never know what's going to be powerful to your readers until you get something out there." And, more and more as this writing thing goes on, I realize I can hardly tell the difference, when it comes to my own work, between the good and the bad.
Reason to keep submitting? Yes. But also, I'm starting to realize just how impressive, how difficult, and how important the job of an editor is.
Also: I'm going to try to be less outrageous. But, since I'm pretty quiet in daily life, it is possible that I will continue to attempt to populate a self-serving caricature of my life in my writing - just as on this blog I have used a picture of myself wearing an absurd wig and fake glasses, rather than my real picture...