I can still remember that January day when I was a junior in college and decided that I was going to try to be a science fiction writer. I sat down and wrote a story in about 2 hours and it was uniformly awful, but I studied the guidelines for the various magazines and sent it off. I think it was two months later that I received my first rejection slip. It took another 14 years and some 100 additional rejection slips before I sold my first story to Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show. Then another two years or so and a lot more rejections before selling a story to Apex Magazine. And then, back in September, I sold “Take One For the Road” to Analog.
Analog has been around for more than 80 years. Before 1960, it was called Astounding Science Fiction. It has been the gold standard for science fiction since the Golden Age and while I day dreamed about having a story of mine appear in Analog (and what daydreams they were!), I kind of thought it would never happen. Like winning the lottery. But it did, and here I am holding the June issue containing my story:
It is difficult for me at the moment to express just how excited I am. Everything feels dreamlike at the moment (also, I haven’t eaten dinner yet and I’m hungry). I’ve been waiting and waiting for the magazine to arrive. Of course, I’d seen the story in galleys, but I wanted to see it in the magazine. I wanted proof that I had really done it. Today, when I walked to the mail box, I had the prelude to John Williams’ theme from Superman running through my head. At the point in the piece where Clark Kent pulls open his shirt to reveal his suit underneath was the exact moment I opened the mailbox.
And there is was, in all its glory, with a gorgeous Vincent DiFate cover for Edward M. Lerner’s serial, Energized.
And then I turned to the title page and discovered just what classy company I was in:
Edward Lener, of course. And David D. Levine! And fellow Codexian Alastair Mayer among others. I mean, how cool is that? Of course, the coolest part was when I turned to page 74 and saw my story there in print with Stan’s blurb and my byline:
I’m gushing, I know, but I will admit that I got a little misty-eyed when I saw that. I love writing but it doesn’t come easy to me. I’ve always said that I was a brute force writer, learning as I go through lot and lots of trial and error. Seeing my story in Analog, where nearly all of my heroes got their start and published some of their best work, seeing it there made me think of those kids who have to work extra hard at a sport, because they’re not as good as the other kids. They put in the extra practices, go to all the tryouts, but not matter how hard they try, they get cut. But they never give up. They try to learn from their mistakes, they practice even harder, they try out more often. They never stop believing that they can make it. And one day, after a game, a fellow walks up to them and says that they’re a scout for the Yankees, and invites them out to spring training.
Because that’s really what this has been like for me, and having a story in Analog feels like the day you are called up to the Big Show. And I’m so glad it is this story, too, but I’ll talk about the story and the reasons why it is special in another post. For now, I’m still basking in the glow of a lifelong triumph. Even if I never sold another story, I can tell me little boy that once, his dad wrote a story that appeared in a magazine that once published the likes of Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Clifford Simak, C. L. Moore, L. Ron Hubbard, Lester del Rey, L. Sprague de Camp, Ray Bradbury, Joe Haldeman, Barry N. Malzberg, Robert J. Sawyer, Ben Bova, Micahel A. Burstein, Juliette Wade, and so many more.
It is truly one of the most humbling experiences of my life to be included in that company.