Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Traditional December 27th Post

If you go back and look at previous entries on this blog each December 27th, you'll find some nostalgic ramblings about what happened on that day in 1976. The condensed version is that on December 27th, 1976, I made my first fiction sale, a confession yarn (some of you may not know what that is) to a long-since-defunct magazine called INTIMATE STORY. The check that arrived 35 years ago today was my first indication that the story had sold. There was no letter of acceptance beforehand or anything like that, or even a contract, just a check from Ideal Publishing for $167.50.

So, after 35 years in this business, what have I learned? Not a hell of a lot, I think most of the time. Recently I've noticed that I'm doing a lot more rewriting during the editing stage on my manuscripts, seeing ways to improve them that I never noticed before. That's got me wondering if maybe I'm lucky enough to keep writing for another 35 years, I might finally begin to figure out what I'm doing. I wouldn't count on it, though.

Mostly I've learned that writing is more fun than anything else I could do for a living and that by and large writers are one of the best groups of people you could ever find. The Internet, which I couldn't have even dreamed of back in '76, has just increased that sense of community. When I sold my first story I didn't know anyone who had ever sold any fiction. The only person I'd ever met who had even had fiction published was my cousin Richard Finley, who had the only story he ever wrote accepted by his college literary magazine. And several more years went by before I even started corresponding with other writers (other than my editor at MSMM, Sam Merwin Jr.), let alone met any of them in person. Of course, I was living with a writer at the time, I just didn't know it yet.

To sum up, I'm old and I've been doing this for a long time. But I hope I can stay at it for a while longer.

11 comments:

Bill Crider said...

Old? You're a mere whippersnapper. I figure you've got 35 more good years at least.

Charles Gramlich said...

If you write for 70 years and begin figuring it out, let me know. I'll still be a long way after 70 from understanding it.

Congrats on that anniversary though!

Heath Lowrance said...

Brilliant post! Here's hoping there's another 35 years of stories from you to come.

Rick said...

It must have been a fulfilling day. Congratulations.

Unknown said...

and long may you continue to write!

Bob Vardeman said...

oops, the comment above was mine!

Duane Spurlock said...

Keep at it, James. Every day something new lets you learn about it.

Jack Cullers said...

I'll second all the nice things everybody else said about you.

Todd Mason said...

Even a dilletante such as myself knows the joy of being caught up in the draft...and envy your discipline and still-increasing artistry in doing so much good work so sustainedly. Congratulations!

Elina said...

Congrats from Finland as well, James! I just noticed myself perusing my own boxes and stacks of paper that my first (non-fiction) sale was from December 1986, so I'm only ten years behind you!

Juri said...

Ooops! My bad - that comment isn't really by my wife (whose blog is quite dandy though, if you ask me), but me. Sorry! I've done this same mistake before. (As for my wife, I think her first sale was from 1996, so she's ten years behind me!)