Posted tagged ‘Race to the summit’

Friday Feature ~ “Race to the Summit”

March 12, 2021

In my early writing years, I spent a lot of time and thought on what kind of stories I wanted to write. Did I want to write in a certain genre? Serious stuff or comic stuff? Realistic fiction or speculative fiction? What did I like to read and could I emulate it? I was still finding my way, perhaps my style, and certainly my subject. So I was trying out different things.

“Race to the Summit” was the second story I had accepted for publication. This was back in 2007 (published in 2008), so nearly two decades had passed since my first published story. I can tell you that I thought a lot about whether or not I was really a writer if it was taking so long to make the magic happen again. (I was writing and publishing a lot of nonfiction in those years.) I began to think that getting “The Mythmaker” published was just a fluke, and I remember setting myself a standard at that time: I wouldn’t consider myself a writer until I had at least ten stories published. That number seemed impossibly ambitious, but if I could achieve it, I would have a substantial body of work that couldn’t be dismissed as luck alone.

So I was encouraged when “Race to the Summit” was accepted for an anthology of speculative fiction: Beacons of Tomorrow. My story is more fantasy than science fiction, or maybe magical realism. I must have been reading a lot of Garcia Marquez at the time for the influence is clearly there. This is one of the few stories of mine that actually received editorial suggestions. I recall one scene that was depicted in a clumsy way that the editor wanted changed, so I did. There may have been a few word changes as well. I wish I could remember more about the genesis of the story; there may be something in one of my journals about it, but good luck finding that! The story involves an earth-bound boy who is infatuated with a girl he imagines to be an angel — a time-honored theme — and his jealousy in learning there is another boy who seems to have captured her attention. What he learns in the end is that he is both right and wrong.

I’m not sure how I learned of the call from Beacons of Tomorrow for speculative short stories, though I suspect it was through Duotrope, which I’ve relied on greatly over the years. By this time, email was the fashion and I submitted in that way. And once again, when the acceptance came through, I kept my success to myself. I suspect I wouldn’t let myself believe it until the printed copy was in my hands. I guess my ambition was a fragile thing. But I now had two short stories published, and I was beginning to believe I might actually pull off this writer thing. Like “The Mythmaker,” my second story appeared in a print journal, and I cleared a space on my bookshelf for these two trophies of mine, where I could see them easily as I sat at my writing desk.

In search of an ending

November 29, 2011

I’ve been fortunate (I guess it’s fortunate) in that nearly all of my stories that have been published have not been altered by the editors who accepted them. Of my thirteen accepted and/or published pieces, only two have been revised (and those were merely suggestions for revision, which I accepted).

The first was my story “Race to the summit,” which you can read here. The editor wanted some of the story order rearranged, and some of my original description in the story he found comical (which it wasn’t supposed to be). So I made those changes, he published the story, and the rest is history. (Or fantasy in this case.)

The second is a recent acceptance, “Velvet Elvis,” which will be coming out in Bartleby Snopes sometime next month. In that case, the editor wanted to change only the last sentence; in fact, it was only the last word of the last sentence that he wanted changed. I made that change willingly. You’ll have to judge whether it works or not when you read it.

Today, I received the third editorial change request of my humble career. My latest acceptance, “Respite Room,” which will come out in Little Patuxent Review in January (print only), needs its ending fixed too. In fact, once again, it’s the last sentence that the editor wants strengthened/clarified. So I’m working on some ideas, and I’m open to suggestions from the editor. I agree that it will likely improve the impact of the story.

But am I starting to see a trend in my story-telling skills? Can I not always write a good ending?

“Race to the summit”

July 6, 2011

I’ve added another of my early short stories, “Race to the summit,” to the sidebar if you’d care to read it. The story is only the second piece of my fiction that had been published. I’d written the story many years before and tinkered with it a great deal. It’s also the first story of mine that was heavily edited, the publisher of the anthology making several structural and technical suggestions, most of which I accepted.

So if you have a moment, let me know what you think.