Death and Perfectionism: “A Stop on the Journey”

The redone cover

http://tinyurl.com/n3rc8fn

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I’ve sold short stories. That’s more than a lot of writers can say.

I don’t make my living at writing. I probably never will. The reasons aren’t important for now. What is important is making genre writing — specifically the pulp and ‘low-rent’ genres of the past — compelling for today.

I once was so sick of zombie stories that I decided to write one. It sold to the first editor who read it. When the magazine was out, the issue was reviewed. The reviewer wrote something that surprised me — he understood that the story of a little girl who is becoming something horrible was actually about the school system, and how we treat children.

He got it. He understood what I was trying to do.

I wrote that zombie story because I was sick of zombie stories. They were everywhere, and they would be gone very soon, I was sure of it. This was in 2006.

When it came to end of the world stories I suspected they would be around a long time. What angle hadn’t been tried? At the time (I won’t bother with the date), apocalypse stories centered on tough-talking loner heroes and their weapons as they battled zombies or mobs or aliens.

How to make it new? Who could star in such a story who was by his or her nature different from the movie hero fantasy figures? That was the key for me, to make the story NOT be a wish-fulfillment fantasy about power. How to make it about someone who was powerless, who found a position, ultimately, that made him more than what he was when things ran smoothly?

The original (bad) cover

I hadn’t read many stories starring anyone in a wheelchair. How would he survive with everyone dead, the streets clogged with cars, no one around?

“A Stop on the Journey” is my answer.

The story placed in a small press anthology. I wanted more people to read it, so I put it on Amazon. I didn’t have any spare money so I made the cover myself. I was actually proud of it.

I redid the cover the other night, along with several other covers to short stories I had put on Amazon and then removed. I wanted to give them one more crack, to tighten them up.

Then I read something about procrastination and perfectionism, and how people never do so many things because they wait for a perfect…something. Perfect never comes.

The story is about me. It’s about hiding, and what happens when you don’t hide anymore.

It’s not a great story, but it (and the one about the zombie girl) are among my favorites of those I’ve written. No one else may like them — no, that’s not true, people have already read them and liked them. What was I afraid of?

Dying without my work being read.

That won’t happen now.

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