Alright! Well that was a non-eventful first week trying to write for a living.
Though I did see my sales for The Wigwam go up by 100%. Sold one copy! Right on. Plus another for Space Potatoes. I’ll tally up those meager earnings some time in the future, once I get my statements from Permuted and Amazon.
Don’t tell the PA Department of Labor and Industry, however. Snitches get stitches. Of course, I’ll be giving up my paid vacation on unemployment benefits soon, as I’ll be starting a brief career as an indentured servant for the Post Office* in the near future until everyone’s favorite priest** gets me a more stable gig lifting heavy shit, or whatever it is construction workers do.
Ah, giving up unemployment checks is bittersweet. Working side jobs and writing non-stop has been a blast, but actually submitting my stuff to paying markets without repercussion is better.
Anyway, let’s get to the actual writing-for-a-living stuff.
I have to say, pro-paying horror markets are a motherfucker in their efficiency. I submitted a story to Pseudopod, the short story podcast, only to have them shoot it down within 48 hours. Then the venerable Black Static kicked what I believe to be my strongest story, “The Hooded Man,” to the curb with the quickness. Although the editor did tell me to send something else, which is a good sign, unless of course it was a form letter and other authors were told the same thing, in which case I don’t want to know because that was a nice bright spot on an otherwise grim week.
But seriously, I’m a writer who has experienced the old school industry and the new. When I began writing back in the early 2000’s, most markets didn’t accept email submissions. Snail mail was the rule. Back then, you’d wait three months, if you were lucky they were that fast, just for a form rejection.
I prefer knowing right away that you don’t want my shit, thank you very much. I’d rather keep it moving.
Though I do remember the first non-form rejection I ever had. I believe it was from Penthouse, or else some other smut outlet, back when adult mags paid a good wage for short stories. Under my given name at just 20 years old, I penned a 4,000 word porn piece entitled “Orgasm Man” that was, naturally, about a superhero who could bring any woman to orgasm.
One of my friends read it and said it gave him the weirdest boner. That’s a good thing, I guess, and probably the most honest feedback I’ve ever had from a beta reader.
Anyway, the editor wrote me back several months later. Clearly I’m yanking this from memory, as I sadly didn’t save the letter, but he said something like this: “Not bad, but strange. Also, we prefer our stories in the first person. Try again.”
And that shit was HAND WRITTEN. Score one for a young, prematurely balding Mack Moyer.
I’ve strayed from my point. Forgive me, I’m drinking.
Back to the subject at hand. Not boners, you perv, but my quixotic attempt to do this shit for a living.
I sent “The Hooded Man” to The Threepenny Review, which is a respectable lit mag, only because the story might be a better fit. It’s more drama than scares, admittedly, and based on my woebegone years spent as a pill addict. (Though I never lived in a box and if any Hooded Men chased me, they were likely trying to collect money that I owed, rather than of the supernatural variety).
It’s a long shot, I know, but one must shoot high some of the time, right? I also submitted another one of my better efforts, “He Rose,” to Strange Horizons, a strong horror magazine. I’m expecting a rejection from them as well, not just because they’re an awesome magazine, and not just because I’m a fucking writer who drinks and is thus prone to depression, but because I’m a realist.
Don’t expect the worst — “YOUR STORY SUCKS KILL YOURSELF,” says the editor — but expect something fairly disappointing. That’s what usually happens in life.
Now, speaking to depression and being a realist: The rapper Flo Rida.
I am not a hip hop fan. Actually, I tend to hate rap. But you know what I don’t hate? Happy things.
And that’s why I’m now a Flo Rida fan. This gentleman has made a song, I’m sure you’ve heard it, that’s about pounding drinks at his house. And he sounds superbly happy rapping about it.
Song of the Day: “My House,” by Flo Rida
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t find “My House” to be a work of art. I don’t think it’s structurally very good or even all that catchy. But motherfucker, listen to this song and tell me it doesn’t make you smile.
Compare that to Pearl Jam’s happiest song. It’s a great song, yeah, but it still makes me want to kill myself a little bit, and that’s never a good thing. (Well…)
*On the United States Postal Service: I remember when you guys were the shit, back when everybody from a blue collar background said, “Yeah man, get into the Post Office and you’re set!” Fuck you, Post Office. You changed, man. I haven’t even started the job yet but the prospect of conceivably working 360 days without a day off — or a guaranteed permanent position — has me already hating you.
**On Father Bob: And lo, did the humble carpenter and the Philly riverwards’ most capable bartender rise up to become the City of Brotherly Love’s most in-demand marriage officiant. He’ll marry you, yes, but also confound those at the reception while he (in inebriated fashion) regales one and all with his happy-go-lucky tales of (redacted for legal reasons) and even that time when he (redacted for legal reasons), all while wearing a legit priest outfit that will totally convince your grandmother that he is, indeed, “that cardinal from St. Anne’s who gave the homily last Easter.”