W. P. Johnson

Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

Rejections

In Uncategorized on October 20, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Recently I successfully managed to have two of my stories picked up by two websites.

My short short “Skin” was featured at http://www.microhorror.com and can be found under W.P.Johnson. Initially this story was printed and featured in a art show and after microhorror decided to feature it I gave it a go of expanding it into a full length story. The full length version of this story can be found at http://www.snmhorrormag.com in their October issue, entitled “Her Lovely Skin”.

When they accepted the story, they had this to say:

Brilliant!! Wonderful story, very atmospheric, absolutely fantastic writing, well developed characters, rich setting, fast, engaging and entertaining. Unique enough and bizarre. Reminds us of a Thomas Ligottiā€™s tale. Dr. Voke and Mr. Cheech.
I remember when I got the email from them. I was at work and read it over my cell phone. Literally, I could feel myself sag and shrug at the prospects of ANOTHER rejection, wondering when I would be good enough for someone to publish. Then… it said it was accepted. I think every writer can remember their first accepted work and the joy of FINALLY not being rejected. You feel like you’re walking on air, like everything you do after will find a home and be published. You feel like it wasn’t all just a waste of time after all.

What more, they said it was “brilliant” and that it reminded them of Thomas Ligotti. Who the hell is Thomas Ligotti? I didn’t know and googled his name, finding out that he was a reclusive, yet renowned, horror writer whose work had been dubbed “philosophical horror” by various reviewers (here’s his wiki page if you’d like to read a bit about him: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Ligotti).

So, in many ways, I did exactly what I intended to do, which is often times a difficult task for a writer (we always mean one thing but end up writing something else). I wrote a strange horror story that was also smart, somewhat philosophical if you will… it was everything I wanted as far as comparisons go (Ligotti is often compared to Lovecraft, and at times Barker). I wanted to write something more than just a scary story, because to me horror isn’t just blood and guts and gore. It’s not just a simple scare. Horror, science fiction, and fantasy can convey the kinds of feelings and fears we collectively share as humans but find ourselves incapable of describing using the conventional forms of story telling. Sometimes the unknown, the brooding, the macabre, is all that can really get it right.

Strangely enough, I recently received an email from Allegory magazine, another online zine, saying that my story “Skin” wasn’t right for them. By this point it had already been picked up by snmhorrormag almost a month prior. They had this to say about my story:

The writing is good and the dialogue flows nicely and naturally. Unfortunately, the piece carries more fascination for the character than for plot. As a character development exercise, there is a character here worth his own story.

Are they right? In a way, yes. “Skin” was very character driven, more about discovery than A happens, followed by B then the conclusion of C. I suppose I’ve always had a hard time with Intro, Conflict, Resolution, plot arcs, etc. But it doesn’t mean I can’t get better or try to focus on this issues. To be honest, getting this rejection after acceptance was a great reminder that there are still things I can work on. For instance- I’ve recently taken to story boarding the novel, which is something script writers tend to do. But to be honest, without breaking things down to the matters of plot, the book is becoming a ADD mess. That said, it’s really coming along and I hope to have part one finished before the end of October, after which Part II will commence and the conclusion after that (roughly three hundred pages or so is the goal for a first draft).

Also working on a couple short stories as well. This time around I hope to keep all the good habits and ditch the bad. By 2011 I hope to have at least three more stories published, with a goal of at least one of these stories being paid for and hopefully in some kind of printed format or anthology.

Here’s to being scary.

-Bill