Sunday, 22 November 2009

Easier to Pretend in Escape Velocity

Was there ever a time when I resented editors suggesting rewrites? Yeah, I guess there was, and it probably wasn't even that long ago. Still, it's hard to remember the mindset, though I know it's pretty common amongst learning writers. "Who's this editor to tell me what my story should be like," and "what's the point of making changes when I got it right the first time?", and "yeah, that paragraph's a bit weirdly phrased but it's exactly how I meant it to be."

All of which, if we're honest, adds up to "It was enough work writing the bloody thing, you can't seriously expect me to rewrite it?"

A little older, possibly a touch wiser, and I can see that that's not how the world - let alone the publishing industry - works. I want my stories to be as good as possible, right? And editors, unless they're basically psychotic, want my story to work as well as it can before they're going to consider publishing it. It all seems pretty much like common sense.

But I think the reason for that is that the more I've written, the more my perception of what a story is has changed. Once upon a time, I believed that once I wrote THE END that was basically the thing done. These days, I would be hesitant to use the word 'finished' to describe anything I write. As long as I can make it a little bit better, it's still a work in progress. For that reason, both of the reprints I recently had picked up for anthologies (Fear of a Blue Goo Planet in Zombonauts, The Other Ten Thousand in Kings of the Realm) are subtly different from the originals. I saw that there was room for tweakage, and so I tweaked. If they ever get reprinted again, I'll probably tweak some more.

Explanation for ramble? My It's Easier to Pretend in the Dark has been picked up by science-fiction magazine Escape Velocity. I sent it in to co-editor Geoff Nelder knowing in my heart of hearts that it wasn't quite as good as it could be but not knowing how to fix it, and Geoff, bless him, asked for some changes and in so doing pointed me towards some other things that needed sorting out. As such, the version that's been accepted is a hell of a lot better than the one I first sent out. That's got to be a good thing, right?

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