Will I be a one-hit wonder?

As I go through my Vacation in the Golden Age, I’ve started to discover some writers who wrote a few stories in the genre and then disappeared. Some of these stories are quite fantastic and as it turns out, science fiction is full of these “one-hit wonders”. (I use the term loosely, of course, since some writers had a couple of good stories before disappearing.)

Lately, I’ve wondered (with a mild shudder) if I will turn out to be this type of writer.

Up until now, I’ve sold three stories, all to professional science fiction magazines. The first I sold in 2007; the second in 2009 and the third in late 2010 and so it seems that there is a shorter time between sales. However, that is somewhat of an illusion because I am writing more and submitting more, which means I am also being rejected a lot more between sales. The troubling part of this to me is that I feel like my work is improving. And yet, since I sold “Take One for the Road” to Analog, I’ve had a string of 10 consecutive rejections–at least half of which for a story that I think is even better than “Take One for the Road”. It can be frustrating.

And it makes me wonder if I will be one of those writers who sells a few stories in the genre and then fades away. I hope not, of course, and I will do my best to avoid that, but every now and then I can’t help feel that despite all my effort, it is just not enough. And then I think of those one-hit wonders of science fiction and I ask: did they ever worry over this? Were they happy to be free of the genre? Did they just run out of steam? Couldn’t make the cut?

It’s time I got cracking on that next story and prove myself wrong.

Published by Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Falls Church, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.