I’m a writer that constantly flirts with publication. Sure, rejections come with the territory, but most of them are just so damn nice. A case in point is Ideomancer. They were almost apologetic when they turned down my rewrite of Vows. That experience was a fruitful one – it stroked my ego that such an established and respected prozine was interested in a rewrite in the first place, as well as encouraging me to transform a lacklustre, vague 120-word scene into a flesh-out 500 word flash story that I’m pretty darn proud of [insert – Ange would go mental if she saw I finished that sentence with a preposition, we had an animated discussion on the topic not so long ago].

Now the crew at Ideomancer have gone one better with my latest submission, Stealing Fire. Perhaps it’s a testament to an idea that’s been floating around, near-fully formed in my head for months now, but when I actually scribed the piece, it progressed smoothly and evocatively. To digress, I believe it is also a testament to my current writing ‘purple patch’. I haven’t written a lot, but my last three stories – The Hanged Girl, On The Nature Of Evil & Stealing Fire – have been very well received. On The Nature Of Evil was bought by Project M. zine in just a couple of days (due for release this Sunday), and The Hanged Girl is probably the creepiest thing I’ve ever written – rivalling scenes from Hear No Evil and Harbinger. I owe sincere thanks to Ange for challenging me, and to my inner psyche to responding to that challenge and driving for innovation and improvement.

To return to my original point: Stealing Fire has ascended from the Ideomancer slushpile and now sits on the senior editor’s desk, presumably awaiting a final nod before being whisked into a future issue. It’s not an acceptance (yet), but it’s a nibble. A pretty darn chunky one at that. The eloquent and supportive Dan conveyed the following:

“Stealing Fire” has strong prose, an innovative speculative element, and a character with a strong motivation.

It was previously submitted to Chizine, who also had the following to say about it (in a rejection email):

There are some nice touches here — “Fire was a playful thing; an idiot child with a flair for destruction.” — and I dig the melancholic tone, the theme of catharsis.

I really have to congratulate Ideomancer. After the near-disintegration earlier this year, the new publishing team are responding well to submissions. In fact, I’ve only submitted the two stories to them since the ‘troubles’. One a rewrite, another a ‘to the senior editor’. Noice.

Alas, there is always a downside, and I found that out with Practical Joke being rejected from ASIM. I swear, I’ve submitted six or seven things to them, and two of those have progressed all the way through the reading rounds (Practical Joke, and previously Ian). Hell, Practical Joke only stayed with them for two months – normally they hang onto the shortlisted stories for 3-4 months.

I get the feeling I’m not cut out for ASIM. Even my shortlisted stories attract what appears to be undue curtness. And what about the whole ‘blind reading process’? Here’s some of the comments:

Nothing unusual there. I’ll go as far as a 2, being kind to a local author.

Umm, thanks, I think.

This is horror, and since I generally lack appreciation for horror I’m

probably not a good judge.

This latter one sums it up nicely. Perhaps even my lighter stories are too dark for ASIM.

I did receive one very nice comment on the story, even accompanied by a thank you. The sincerity surprised me, to be honest. It appears most of the readers seem oblivious to the fact their comments are sent to out with rejections. I agree with keeping bluntness in house. If it ain’t constructive criticism, my personal policy is not to air it. The refreshing change of a reader acknowledging their comment will be read was, well, refreshing.

Of course, I’m not denouncing ASIM’s system. It surely must work for them. I realize that my several near misses kinda drops a hint that my current stuff won’t find a receptive home there. This actually drives my stories away from Australian publications, but that may be a good thing. Come to think of it, when was the last Australian published in Chizine, Cemetery Dance or The Third Alternative? I can’t really answer that, but I have the balls to say the next one may probably be me.

In other fun and games, I’m going through the process of applying for a travel grant from ArtsWA to get to Clarion South. With the amount of paperwork involved, AND the fact I can’t book my ticket seemingly until mid-December (eek!), it may not be worth the $700-800.