Back when I started writing and submitting stories as a junior in college way back in 1993, I used to daydream of what it would be like to have a story accepted by a magazine. I’d be walking to class and imagining getting a letter back from an editor telling me that they liked my story and wanted to publish it. I imagined what it would be like seeing my name on the table of contents of a magazine, and on the byline of the story itself.
In all of this daydreaming, then absolute pinnacle for me, at the time, was to have a story appear in Analog. Analog was the cream of the crop of science fiction magazines. It was the same Astounding Science Fiction that Asimov and Heinlein had sold stories to beginning in the late 1930s. It seemed unlikely such a thing would every happen, but it was fun to daydream about it.
All these years later, I’ve sold many stories and articles, and my name has appeared in Analog‘s table of contents 4 times (two fiction pieces, and two nonfiction pieces). It’s always fun to imagine a fifth time, but with the most recent story I’ve written, my daydreams have started to change.
I finished the second draft of a new story the other day. It was the first story I’d written and finished in three years. Toward the end of my first phase of writing, my stories had started to change. There was usually a science fictional element to carry the story into the magazines that I’d grown used to selling to, but they were barely science fiction. Several reviews of my last two stories pointed this out.
This most recent story, while still maintaining a small element of the fantastic, is not what I’d call science fiction or fantasy. It’s a story. On the drive up from Virginia to New York on Saturday morning, I started to daydreaming about what it would be like if I sold this story, and I was not picturing the science fiction magazines. I was imagining what it would be like to sell the story to a place like the Atlantic or Harper’s. And the strange thing is that the daydreams were just as exciting as the ones that I remember dreaming up as a junior in college more than a quarter of a century ago.