I suppose I should get over it. I feel mercenary about writing for money. Almost as if I’ve sold out. What a strange way to announce my first story accepted for publication for pay. Don’t get me wrong—I’m absolutely thrilled. I’ve received prize money for my writing before, but getting paid to have someone publish it is new.
This past week two bits of good news arrived on the same day. My story “Meh-Teh” was accepted by The Colored Lens, and they’re a paying venue. Simultaneously my story “Creative Writing Club” received honorable mention in Typehouse’s second biennial short fiction contest. I literally had to go for a jog after opening the emails just to clear my head.
You see, I’ve been writing fiction for forty years. I sent my first story in for publication a decade ago. It won a contest. Then the rejections began rolling in. I’ve lost track of how many there have been. Indeed, in this latest batch of stories I’ve sent out, I’ve already received multiple rejections. Two acceptances on the same day was almost like going to the miracle store.
Not only that, but two of the three stories recently accepted are Breck stories. Long before I knew that Stephen King had made up Derry, Maine, I had invented a town called Breck, in New Hampshire, where many of the weird things in my stories happen. I have maps of Breck and a list of well over 50 characters who live in the town, all of them in stories I’ve written. (I have a tremendous backlog.)
I’ve always wanted some of these Breck stories to see the light of other people’s eyes. It’s a kind of affirmation for the world-building I like to do. The laws of physics don’t always strictly apply in Breck. Monsters live there—inhuman, some of them. In fact, the narrator of my novel lived there.
A certain cynicism attends being paid for writing. Like an artist has sold out. Still, considering the many thousands of hours I put into my writing, it seems like a little pay is only fair. Besides, I still write what I want to write, whether anyone pays me for it or not. I guess I’m not so mercenary after all.