I figured out what to do about Chapter 11. No, not my finances—although they could use a serious case of debt restructuring and re-organization. No, I’m referring to Chapter 11 of Hugo.
As I was reading through the mss on its first full reading, I realized that the substory I’d been referencing all throughout the story went too far once I got to this point. Chapters 1 thru 10 read well, and from my vantage point they’re ‘finished’. But it became obvious that I was writing Chapter 11 as if the substory was the ultimate destination of the book. It’s not. It’s an interesting story in and of itself, so I’ll use it elsewhere. (It probably merits its own vehicle anyway, if I’m to do the characters justice.) Also, not only did I realize that the substory was too much, there was a critical discussion that I was avoiding—a realm I was lazily glossing over and ignoring. Perhaps that was the purpose of derailing myself with the substory: to avoid the more critical discussion that had to be had with the main character’s story line.
So it’s back to work… excise the substory, summarize where needed, backfill with the critical discussion and put in some word putty around the new sections.
I’ve written a short piece I refer to as ‘Dearth.’ With an ‘r’. Dearth. Not death. It’s a good piece: 4,600 words told from the perspective of a character who had been lingering undefined in the back of my mind for about 15 years and then suddenly, as I struggled with start after start of the story, came into being. It’s always a wonderful moment when a character snaps into life, when you all of a sudden realize who they are and know how to tell their story.
The story has been farmed out to a couple publications. The first recipient, Glimmer Train, rejected it in a rather oblique way: in a mass email promoting the publication and thanking me (ie, everyone on distribution) for writing and submitting, and to please write again…oh, and be sure to subscribe if you don’t already.
Well yes, ok. Of course.
In these days of dwindling resources, high submission volume and understaffing, it’s not uncommon to receive no formal rejection. It’s kind of like applying for a job on craigslist or some other resume-posting site: your submission falls into a black hole on the other end of which resides subject matter for a potentially engaging if disturbing documentary. It still smarts a little, though, to have to go to the publisher’s website and look at the list of 30 other writers whose work was accepted and lauded with at minimum an honorable mention while yours—nope…And you’re left muttering to yourself, But it was good…