What is it the kids say? “Lord help me, I’m back on my shit?” Something like that.
Folks, I have an albatross around my neck that has haunted me for four years now. It is a 6,000 word, genre-busting story about disability and humanity and I cannot, for the life of me, sell it. It’s won an award, but no one is buying it. It’s starting to drive me a little crazy.
Widowmaker is a time-travel mystery set in the old west, starring a cyborg laden with a sense of self-loathing. It’s a project that I love and believe in, but which haunts me to this day. It just went through a round of critique with the Columbia Writers group that I run and I have some ways I can tighten and pace it better… but I have a lot of my own ego all tangled up in this thing.
I’ll be submitting it to Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction in 2018 because I suffer from chronic body-wide pain, depression, C-PTSD, and anxiety (I’m a hot mess, but it’s part of my charm) and because the story also examines themes of trauma, pain, and examining ones own humanity in the face of disability. I feel like it’s perfect for the anthology, but the fear of rejection is exceptionally high for me this time.
Generally, when I receive a rejection, I shrug it off and try to improve the piece before submitting it somewhere else. I don’t take it personally and I don’t give up. The worst thing I do is shelve a project to come back to, pull apart, and rebuild into something new on another day.
But Widowmaker? Widowmaker is very personal to me. The protagonist’s struggles to accept her damaged and flawed body and mind mirror my own. Her self-doubt and transformation into a confident, fully-realized version of herself is the story of the past year and a half of my life. A rejection of Widowmaker is going to sting a lot more than anything else I’ve had to deal with before. A rejection of Widowmaker is a rejection of my own journey.
I need to be strong. I am baring my soul with this one and that which makes us vulnerable also gives us the greatest opportunity to grow.