I write myself into corners.
Not the usual “this story is going nowhere” corners, though that does happen, at which point I slice, dice and puree the story until I get it moving again. No, I’m talking about genre corners, as in “I have no idea where to publish this short story I just finished.”
I wrote Jack Nory last year, a grim dark sort of fairy tale, and couldn’t find an appropriate market to send it to. I tried a couple of places, got rejections from the ones I felt it was suited for, and then put it up on this blog and a few other free places as a sample of my writing style. Got some nice comments on it, too, so that was good. It was dark fantasy, a little bloody at times, and a bit on the creepy side.
Now I’ve finished a children’s story called The Monster Under the Bed. It’s a much lighter piece, with just a tiny bit scary in it, definitely more of a middle school student level of writing though with an adult orient to it. Think of it like The Ocean at the End of the Lane sort of style of writing. It’s a good story and has also received some nice comments and critiques and I’d surely love to see it published… but where?
I began scouring short story magazines this morning for one that would take a children’s story that’s not really a children’s story, a fairy tale that is written from the point of a nine year old girl but with some slightly adult thoughts and situations. So far I’ve run through a handful of sites that might be appropriate, but it’s either too long (they want a complete story with character development and arcs in 1800 words written for 12 year olds… seriously? 1800 words? Might as well be writing a novel on twitter), or the stuff they publish doesn’t really seem to mesh with what I’ve produced.
I don’t want to be boxed into a literary corner. “Oh that guy, Jeffery Reynolds, yeah I know him. He writes all that urban fantasy stuff.” I admire people like Gaiman and King who stretch their boundaries and write what they want without regards to the genre it might slip into. I want to write fantasy; I want to write science fiction; I want to write grim dark; I want to write literary works; I want to write historical drama; I want to write what I want to write, not what others tell me I should write. Of course, if something is successful I’d revisit that genre and that story and see if there’s more of it to tell, but mostly I just want to write what pleases me. And what pleases my wife, since she’s my main audience. If it makes her smile, then I’ve accomplished the only goal that really matters.
But yes, I’d like to see some of this work published. This is more than just a passing hobby for me, it’s a life long dream and desire. Since I was eight, I’ve been writing and telling stories of all kinds, from disaster stories like the one my grade school self wrote about the avalanche at the ski resort, to fantasy stories about monsters that are kind and beautiful folks who are evil, to erotica, to epic novels filled with many characters and battles and long hard journeys. But what I won’t do is compromise for the market what it pleases me to create.
So, where to publish? I have no idea. The supermarket of ideas and publications is vast, and hopefully I’ll find the right vegetables to go with the main dish I’ve served up. If not… well I’ll put it up here, you never know, at the very least it’ll get at least two or three views. Out of seven billion whose complaining?