Tuesday, September 12, 2023

The Unpublishable Cringe

 This Week's Topic: The Most Unpublishable Niche Story I Ever Wrote Was...

First, I ought to be very clear that the story was unpublishable not because of the niche but because my writing at the time was, uhm, underdeveloped? Raw? Cringy? Okay, okay, okay. Horrible. I admit, it was horrible.  It was a grimdark romance short story written to the guidelines of a general fiction contest sponsored by a leading writing magazine. 

We will ignore the red flags around the contest because this was 20ish years ago. While the magazine is still around, the publisher at the time has long since folded and the magazine was subsumed by one of the Big 5 publishing houses. Hopefully, if they still run contests under the magazine's brand, they've cleaned up their act. Nope, I'm not gonna look and see. This topic isn't for Achtung Contests, Baby. Just do a web search for "red flags and writing contests." That'll get you plenty of results.

Back to the topic at hand: It is simultaneously hilarious and humbling to review my earliest works. To catch the glaring mistakes at first glance is, in fact, a good thing. It shows that I've grown as an author (and groaned too; there's lots of both). That I tried to shove a 90k story into 2500 words is, perhaps, the first warning siren. That I didn't know the reader's expectations of either genre so there was no attempt to deliver on the promise makes the story a certified wallbanger (if you happened to endure the craptastic writing to make it to the end). Character dev? Pfffft. A plot? A through line? Ahahaha. Staaaaaap. About all it had going for it was setting and dialogue. 

Oh, you want to see a sample of it? Oh, so, so, sorry.  That file "magically disappeared" along with Windows XP. Yep. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. 😇