I’ve spent the last several hours reading through listings for agents and literary magazines in the 2009 Novel and Short Story Market. And if their blurbs are to be believed, nobody short of Shakespeare and Jesus Christ, Superstar, are up to their high level of literary standards.
Now I am aware that it’s a very competetive world out there, and agents and publishers want to entice the very best of writers to their doorstep. I am also aware that there are quite a few very, very, very bad writers out there trying to get published.
I’m just trying to find a space in my brain that exists between my overactive ego and my hyperactively low-self esteem. Granted, I’ve read a lot of terrible short stories out there which are hailed as “the best fiction of our time.” Maybe I’m just two quotation marks short of being a complete prole, but I do not think that an ambiguous ending and the use of the word “lugubrious” in your text automatically qualifies your story as fine literature.
I truly believe there is a market out there for short stories that are not offensive, vague, uppity or self-important. An audience for short stories with realistic heroines who likeable as well as accessible (yeah, I tend to write female protagonists. Shoot me. Beat me. Just don’t call it Chick Fic.) And I don’t think the end-all be-all of a woman’s existence is finding the right pair of designer shoes while juggling three self-involved yuppie boyfriends.
So, I am not exactly literary, but I’m also not Chick Fic. I can do genre, but not just genre. My stories are not romance, but they can be romantic.
ARGH. Somebody pigeon-hole me, damn it, before I explode!
Finishing my first novel was just the beginning. I’m at that point in my process now that I have to get out there, to really focus on what makes my book special, what makes it sale-worthy, and why an agent would want to take a chance on a previously unpublished author.
It’s a humbling and daunting process. I’m learning a lot about myself, and about the industry. I’m just grateful that I have a mentor who knows the ropes and who can remind me that, this too shall pass. It’s not enough to have talent, but having talent makes it much easier.
I just have to be peristent through this part of it.