Popped a champagne cork tonight after seeing that my short story “The Beef” had gone live on Strange Horizons. It was accepted a couple months ago but I didn’t want to announce anything until I could actually give people a way to read it. Strange Horizons produced a podcast as well, and I really enjoyed Anaea Lay’s reading (and short interpretation afterwards).
The story touches on a few topics I’ve written about before on this blog, such as scenarios around human depopulation, and the moral and power dynamics of conscious-aware animals eating other conscious-aware animals. But the main theme is the migration impulse, or lack thereof (human and animal).
Heinlein’s Rules for Writing
- You must write.
- You must finish what you write.
- You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
- You must put the work on the market.
- You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.
I currently have nine stories out for submission. I’ve been using Heinlein’s Rules, more or less, except that whenever a story is rejected, I reread it and change anything that jumps out as needing changing (and I don’t send anything out in the first place until after at least two revisions, sometimes many more). Strange Horizons read a better story than the first two magazines that rejected The Beef. I always try to send out a finished, polished story in the first place, but if I reread it and notice something can be improved, I’ll try to improve it. Technically this is a violation of Heinlein’s Rule#3, but according to this io9 article, even Heinlein sometimes revised his work.
I like to think that Heinlein simply meant that you shouldn’t obsessively rewrite and revise when your story isn’t broken in the first place. But maybe he meant it literally — just send out the first draft. Big difference: when Heinlein was submitting short stories, it was a seller’s market. Editors might look for a gem in the rough. Editors today expect to read a polished story, and if that’s not what you send them they have a 1000 more in the slush pile to try.
I hope you read and enjoy The Beef. Please leave a comment at strangehorizons.com if you have some thoughts. And thank you for the many words of encouragement I’ve received from readers, in terms of taking up a new artistic endeavor and keeping at it.