About 4: Would-Be Classic Makes Cut but Loses Contest and Withdraws to Work on Character
Like any self-respecting author, I have my doubts. I mean, who do I think I am, presuming to put words in people's minds, words that will shape worlds, grow personalities and rend the bounds of understanding? I mean, really? And in those dark fits of doubt, I think the world might be better off without my lame graffiti. We've struggled through this long without it. The sun won't die a day sooner if I never put pen to paper again, if I never print a single piece in a prestigious rag, if my far-future space western never gets read by anybody I'm not connected to by blood or Facebook.
And then I read "Invincible Ink", my first sci-fi short, written when I was in grade five, or "The Street Child Protection Agency", my latest post on Lowly Seraphim, my flagship contribution to Mormon speculative fiction, and I think, "This dude can write!"--by which I mean, make and tell a story. They may not be stories everybody likes. They may be too lean for some and too literary for others. The characters may be too thinly veneered with presence. They may leave much to be desired. But I know for a fact they're well-structured (I believe I'm the world expert on milestones by now) and I like 'em and I'm proud of 'em and I'm glad I wrote 'em.
I'm planning a stupendous legacy. Oh, yeah! I've got a good dozen novels in the culture dishes, and a few score short stories, novelettes and novellas that just reached a point where they said, "Learn more, young man! Then come back and finish us. We are not content to be second rate. We're better than that." And so, for the same reason I don't speak French much anymore--R-E-S-P-E-C-T, I set them gently aside and tried other things, some of which were short and sweet enough to crawl out of the dish and ooze off looking for homes outside the lab. "The Defection of Baby Mixo" is the most notable so far. It was a finalist in the 2012 Everyday Mormon Writer Four Centuries of Mormon Stories Contest. Yeah, it lost to a quirky piece of desert punk called "When the Bishop Started Killing Dogs" (and to every other contestant left standing, no doubt), but it put me out there on people's screens and it led to Lowly Seraphim. Not bad for a first go at glory. Go note it here, here or here.
I've been quiet on the contest front since then. I submitted to a couple and never made it on the map, but that was okay, because what I sent was pre-enlightenment stuff, throwaways "just to stay loose" as Mr. Incredible would say of knocking down a burning high rise with a heap of unconscious civilians on his back. Nowadays I'm inclined to take David Wolverton's tack and write for the contest or rag or publisher.
But soft, what story element through yonder window breaks? It is Character and Presence is the sun!