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Trouble with numbers

January 10, 2010

Maybe I’ve been aiming at Writers of the Future too much, but I’m having trouble finding stories to submit to Clarion and Clarion West.  My stuff is just too long.  The story I just finished is 8000 words, 33% too long for a C-SD story and quite a few pages longer than CW wants.  “***************” (still hate the title) came in at 6600 and 34 pages, still too much for either.  The naked man story will be at least novelette length, so finishing that up isn’t going to help.

Stay with me while I think out loud…or skip to the next paragraph.  I sent “Leech Run” last year, so that’s out.  I have “Secondhand Rush” that’s shorter (3000 words or so?) but I wrote most of that maybe five years ago.  It did pull an honorable mention from WotF, but so did “Leech Run” and I didn’t quite make it.  “Brother Goo” is kiddy stuff and very derivative, by intent but still out.  I don’t think “How Quickly We Forget” is quite strong enough to send and it’s too short for C-SD.  “Excuse Me” is too…well, it sold to The Rejected Quarterly, so…  If I need to go short-ish, “Faerie Belches” is probably my next strongest piece, again a little too short for C-SD; it’s kiddy stuff, too, but more original.  I’m not happy enough with “__________” to send that.  Maybe I could check the word count on “Chasers”…but that was published in an anthology called Triangulation 2004.

Bottom line, I need to get a new story from zero to publishable in about two months.  Don’t get me wrong, if “****” comes up big in WotF, I’m sending it.  I have an edit that pulls it down to 6200 words (I think) and 32.5 pages.  (It’s hard to remember; I’m a math teacher and not real good with numbers.)  It looks like I need a new idea, something deep enough to inspire a story with umph.  I thought of using my fear of snow-driving as a catalyst (hence the rambling blog post a couple days ago), but it hasn’t taken me anywhere yet.  I have a few little vampire ideas in my head, but really?  Okay, one is pretty good.  No actual vampires needed, but I haven’t found the speculative angle to it yet.  Nothing says it needs one specifically, but I’d like to sell it somewhere.  It’s not a story I need to write, so it’s probably not the one I’m looking for.  Nor is the zombie idea.

I don’t seem to have any good science fiction ideas floating around my brain.  Too bad, because I think I do sci-fi better than fantasy or horror.  I’ve definitely sold more.  Even that wacky talking hat of a Christmas present hasn’t given me any good ideas.

I’m playing writer for the next few days.  All day, typitty-typitty-tap-tap.  (Note to self: still need to send in lesson plans to school.)  It’ll be out of town so maybe the change in scenery will help.  Not a workshop or anything, just escorting my wife to a photography conference.  I need to get something at least planned and started while I’m there.  I’ll bring along some science stuff to get the old brain rolling: Popular Science (because no one writes stories from those ideas, right?), a Michio Kaku book or two, explorations into the fourth dimension, light reading like that.  Not that any of it matters.  Ideas hit when and where they please.  I got an idea for a whole novel based off the title of a book I bought out of a bargain bin(And no, my idea was in no way related to the book in question.)

Maybe I’ll try some workshop techniques.  I could interview a stranger.  Maybe I’ll end up with a photography story idea and be in the perfect place for inspiration.  We’ll see.  Until then I’ll be trying to finish up some lingering projects.  And praying we can get the car up the hill and out of the subdivision.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 10, 2010 1:37 am

    What about Glow Baby? Is it over Clarion length? (I think CW is 30 pages in Courier, and CSD is 2 stories, each under 6k words, yes?)

    • osomuerte permalink
      January 10, 2010 2:08 am

      I sent Glow Baby with Leech Run to C-SD last year. We know how that turned out. I think there’s good writing in it, so I could send it to CW, but I’m not sure it’s the way to go.

      Right now “Poison…” is my front runner for both (with another editing pass), though I’m going to look at my Naked Man story and see if I can cut some length by starting it later. *sigh*

      Somehow I felt better about last year’s application. Too much time not writing this year. Stupid pneumonia.

      • January 10, 2010 2:35 pm

        Yeah, I have opposite problem. I’ve got much better stories to send this year and multiple ones to pick from (last year I really only had two to choose from), but there’s pretty much no way I could afford to go this year due to multiple things sucking away our savings.

        You’ve got time! Good luck this year. Hopefully you get in so I can live vicariously through your blog while you’re there 😉

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