One Meal a Day

Sometimes I think my submissions have no chance, but I send them anyway.

Of course I read the guidelines to see what the editors are looking for, and I polish my prose through multiple revisions, and I follow standard manuscript format to the letter (unless the editors prefer their own quirky format, which I follow to the letter), and I type up a brief, respectful cover letter addressing the editor by name, sharing no more than three publication credits.

But when I'm subbing to a top-tier, SFWA-qualifying, pro-paying venue, I can't help but wonder if my work isn't good enough. Maybe that's the wrong qualifier. If it wasn't good enough, I wouldn't send it out into the world at all. It would remain shrouded in virtual dust on my hard drive.

How about this: I wonder if I'm at that level yet. I don't write hard science fiction. I'm not an astrophysicist. Or a chemist. Or any other kind of -ist. I teach English to 7th and 8th graders, and I write whenever I can. Often, my work takes the form of pulpy adventure stories. Somewhere in my mind, a little voice tells me that's not what these upper echelon editors want to see.

But that voice has been wrong before (I'm still surprised "Roadkill Joe" appeared in AE Science Fiction and "Minutemen" was published by Cosmos). So maybe I don't need a degree in botany or a deep understanding of electromagnetic radiation to break into these venues. If having a story accepted is truly all about getting your work in front of the right editor at the right time, then I'll just keep doing what I'm doing. And I'll try to ignore that voice in my head as much as possible.

My story "One Meal a Day" is included in the latest issue of Nature, and you can read it here. Or, if you'd prefer a fancy PDF copy, here you go.

As always, thanks for reading.