Matthew Bennardo tweeted some wisdom yesterday, and when I asked him if he was going to blogify it (that is a word now), he demurred about not having enough readers or something. In truth, he is too busy SELLING SHORT FICTION TO MAGAZINES LIKE ASIMOV’S, like some kind of professional writer.
And so I’ve captured and reposted his self-realization about being a short fiction writer here, separated out by individual tweets. Matthew’s first tweet is here, and all together they make this:
It happened so long ago that I often forget that I wrote and trunked about 150 stories before selling a single one.
Really terrible stuff too. Ray Bradbury pastiches. Plays in blank verse. Tom Clancy rip-offs. Just everything terrible.
Then, once I did sell a handful of stories, it took me ten more years of reading everything I could to figure out how I should write.
That’s 150 stories until I was competent enough to sell one. And ten years AFTER that until I understood my voice or whatever you call it.
All that to get to a point where I count myself lucky to be rejected 90% of the time.
I feel like if I had understood this trajectory better when I was greener, it wouldn’t have taken me so long. So there you go!
It takes roughly 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. I know I don’t have 150 stories lying around, although I do have many terrible ones written in my formative years, and plenty of ok-but-unlikely-to-sell stories. Nor have I ever sold anything to one of the big spec fic magazines.
I hope that any short fiction writers out there disheartened by constant rejection will take some cheer from this kick-in-the-pants from reality.