I yesterday penned the contract for my first-ever sale of anything to anyone other than coffee makers and toasters sold on Craigslist - which in their/my defense didn't have contracts and existed on a sliding scale of sketchiness from Sketchy to It's Not Worth the Money.
Yes, that's right! In less stupidly verbose and tangential language, I sold a story. "In the Deep Deep Sea There is an Even Deeper Susurrus" will appear in Brain Harvest, the Almanac of Bad Ass Speculative Fiction, next Sunday, January 16th. Finally, I am authenticated by the Other. I've never felt so... phenomenological. The question is whether this makes me more French or less German.
I'm exceptionally pumped that the first story of mine to be published by Upright and Respectable Folk (w/ Money) will be published by Brain Harvest, which is one of my favourite 'zines. Of course, I'd suck up to whoever bought my story, and you - a critical person with an eye for the conspicuous - are right to suspect my motives when I laud the magazine that just so happened to pay for my work. However, despite my unscrupulousness, Brain Harvest is in all honesty one of a select breed of 'zines I've read consistently over the past two years (ever since I "discovered," somewhat shamefully lately, that short fiction didn't perish with Lovecraft). I'm not saying I've read every issue (and whether Brain Harvest has issues or "issues" is a giggle-inspiring meta-psycho-linguistic twister), but it has kept my interest every time I have deigned to pick it up (insofar as anything is ever "picked up" on the Internet without an intrinsic connotation of foul play and felonious action). This is probably due to the fact that Brain Harvest is:
1. Weird; and,
These things satisfy me, or at least fail to fail to satisfy me. Whatever that means, if you don't presently read Brain Harvest, you ought to; if you're anything like me, you won't regret it.
In any case, it is entirely satisfying, after two entire years of dedicated writing - quite nearly to the day, since my 2009 New Year's Resolution was to "be a dedicated writer" - to finally be validated, even if that validation-as-gatekeeper-approval may seem to some to be crass or absurd or unnecessary or childish. I am all of those things, anyway. I have many people to thank, though they all already know who they are (at least in the barest sense of self-awareness); without the support of friends, family, and a community of online writers, I might have long ago given this up. I also owe particular props to David Barron, whose Flash Fiction Orgy prompt, "in which there is a susurrus" got me perhaps inappropriately enthused with the idea of susurreses - susurri? - and, thusly, led to the title: "In the Deep Deep Sea..."
But the real point (as though I've been making phantasmagorical points all this time) is that I see the relevance of this event, in the Grand Scheme of Things, not as a sale, and perhaps (probably absurdly and certainly not truthfully in an ontological sense) not even as a publication, but as a single step into the No Man's Land of publishing under the hail of bullets fired from the editorial mitrailleuse; and, during this single step, I have managed to avoid being killed. I am a 1914 hero, in this scheme of thought-fantasy; until now, I have merely been counting bullets and cleaning rifle barrels and trying not to get trench foot, and now that I've had the order to go over the top it will be a long slog to Berlin and we all know that they give up before we get over the Rhine anyway and that there will be lingering resentment and an awful peace accord and I'll have to pay for it in '36. Well, whatever - at least I'm not dead yet.
One day, I hope that this sort of thing - this metaphorical war-fighting and victory-winning that somehow helps me live with myself, The Writer - will be entirely natural and I will simply yawn, unlace my boat-shoes and tighten the sash on my smoking jacket, grease my moustache and wave the servants from the salon with my newly manicured fingernails, and drawl: "Yes, well, Tor has only just offered me the souls of Brandon Sanderson and Larry Niven for the new novel, and I told them I simply couldn't accept the deal unless they exhumed Asimov himself because Baen has offered to turn the entirety of DAW into a hat for me to wear. Don't they know who I am?"
In other words, I believe that - with the Brain Harvest editorial team's approval - I have taken the most important step in the whole venture, even if that step is not an actual active phenomenon but rather the analogical equivalent of "not dying;" and for now, I am ecstatic at the fact that some people who know utterly nothing about me - and about whom I know a disproportionate and perhaps creepy amount, since I Internet-stalk any and all spec-fic editors - like a thing I have created enough to trade with me real currency - the kind you can use to buy stuff - for it. I am, at heart, nothing more or less than an adolescently self-conscious homo faber.
So: prepare yourself, friends, family and well-wishers! Mark next Sunday upon ye calendars: the destruction begins now... er, then. Whatever the future brings, I will continue to conceive of everything I do in heavy metal metaphors. And thank you, editors of Brain Harvest, for baking my gray matter into your literary bread.