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Today's Bitch

Tasks and Guilt

July 18, 2008

Having a butt load of tasks to do doesn't make me feel wanted, needed, or fulfilled. It makes me feel unbelievably guilty.

Thanks to the hail, family crap, health problems, and other minor disasters everything just seems to be stuck in the big middle.

Including the slush.

Slush is like an albatross for me. Why? Because I know what it's like being stuck in the slush waiting to find out whether you're going to be in or out. But it's become the last thing my list of “have to do” when I'm snowed under with other crap because... Well I have never gotten rich off anything in the slush pile. In fact the truth is that most of the stuff I've pulled from the slush pile—anthologies excluded—is pure shit, and frankly I have yet to make any actual money. Most slush pile projects wind up losing money or barely breaking even.

In other words a whole lot of work for not much if any return.

Everyone always wants to know why so many houses don't do open reads. This would be why. Well this and the fact that reading through tons of shit is a lot of actual work.

What projects do earn out and make money? Writers who have some following already—no matter how small—who come to me and pitch a project. People I have met who aren't established yet but who I know from meeting them are going to be able to sell books.

You get someone with talent who also has the ability to sell books? Well that's what you have to get to have a successful book in small press.

I got most of this slush six months ago and I feel awful that I haven't read and addressed each and every one. Hell some of them are things I asked for and many from people I know. But... life has happened over and over this year.

First off I was invited to write for not one, not two, not three but seven different anthologies and magazines and I had to write all those stories—so far have sold six haven't heard on the seventh one yet—I still have to finish the rewrite on Jabone's Sword—the sequel to Sword Masters—which I should have had turned in two months ago and which I haven't had time to finish because I've been up to my ass in alligators. And here's the thing—I'm really tired of my career getting put on hold so that I can do something for the company.

And it's hard to get worked up about the slush because... Well I haven't made money on anything I have pulled out of there yet. I've got some hellacious good reads out of it and published some wonderful books from it, but that doesn't pay the bills. So far nothing from the slush pile has ever made any money so... I can do my stuff and get paid or I can work my ass off in the slush pile and then wonder if there will be any pay off at all. Putting a book out is a lot of work for the publisher and a giant leap of faith. If you are relatively sure there will be no return... Well I suppose I could just be a total ass, never have open reads, or just go through and say no to everyone but... You never know what might be huge, right? Till you give them a chance you don't really know who can and who can not sell books. Just because it hasn't pulled in any winners yet doesn't mean it can't happen, right?

Since January when I started accepting submissions—was open just for chap books and just for a month, fifty submissions—my sister-in-law died, the same day my dog Spud was killed—my favorite dog ever. For the record I still go out at night to check on him, remember he's gone, and get all weepy. My friends Eva and Mort died. My great aunt Violet died. That all happened before the middle of February. Lynn's uncle Jimmy died—still in February. Robert Aspirin died and though I recognized his short comings we were still friends and he was a great guy truly one of a kind. Sometimes he even remembered who I was, and I'll miss the old SOB. My friend Helen just died a couple of weeks ago, she was a school friend. We were the same age she died after a long battle with MS. The MS and everyone who voted against stem cell research won.

I have also attended six conventions. Planted and tended the garden. Fenced a half acre of pasture, built most of a barn—I had to stop working on the barn because I blew my knee out and it actually feels like it may get better now after six weeks. Repaired the toilet in the master bathroom. Mowed and weed eated this whole place every time it needed it—I had help with the weed eating twice, they sucked, I wound up having to go back over what they did—I insulated and walled the book building. The giant hail beat the crap out of our roof and the insurance didn't cover the cost to replace it so I had to hire a guy to help me and do the freaking things myself. That's right with my knee screwed all completely up I helped strip and shingle our roof.

I've had four goats kid I'm milking twice a day and taking care of kids and I've got rabbits having litters and chicks hatching and there is all that care and feeding, and of course the price of feed has got me pulling weeds and throwing it to animals to cut the cost.

Currently I'm practicing for a play I will be doing in two weeks and getting ready for Conestoga which is huge for us because we have the most authors in attendance.

In this time I found out I did NOT make the final ballot for the Nebula award which basically screwed any chance I had of reselling Strange Robby. We had a three day party for our writers and artists and friends for which I did all the cooking—a labor of love but labor all the same. I learned that my son was dating one of his best friend’s exs—no doubt because he doesn't like drama which is what he keeps saying.

We had the aforementioned giant hail, minor flooding, and a late freeze, all things you might not worry about unless you're actually farming. High winds knocked down limbs all over our yard and toppled my corn over not once but twice.

I helped build my parents’ bathroom and installed their kitchen cabinets. I helped my nephew trim his basement and hang the rest of the sheet rock in his house.

My father fell down a flight of stairs, busted his head open, and had to be hospitalized. He's home and fine now.

My son's best friend was hit on his motor bike by a seventeen-year-old idiot in a pick up truck. Toby had been home for less than four months after a two year stint in Iraq. His left leg had to be completely reconstructed and since the hospital—Saint Edwards in Fort Smith for the record—just sort of stacked him in a corner and forgot about him I had to go there every day to check to make sure they were taking care of him. When he came home I took care of his wound every day and now I'm doing physical therapy with him twice a week. He still has no money from the boy's insurance company and he will probably be off work another six months at least. He may have to have another surgery.

At least once a week I give someone a massage, I have to run someone somewhere and/or watch someone's kid.

I have to edit the books I asked for. I have to think of ways to promote the books we already have. I get to make lovely decisions about which books won't be printed anymore and whose work I can't afford to take anymore.

I realize that every writer in my slush pile thinks that his or her work should be the most important thing in my life. At the very least they think I should have found the time to get through it by now and give them an answer one way or the other. My question for them is simple, "When was I supposed to do this?" I haven't even had the time to put my bad leg up, properly grieve for my friends or family members—or even my dog.

Maybe you will understand this, maybe you won't, but I think this is the last time I will ever do an open read. I just can't handle the guilt and I don't have the time to filter through it all looking for something that MIGHT make me money.

Selina

If you enjoy these bitches, please contact Selina directly at selinarosen@cox.net. Thanks!

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