LITERARY TASTE AND A MAD, MAD WEATHER

A few days ago I wrote the following lines:

So where would I move? Ames asks himself as the first cold snap in New York City bares its teeth in the middle of November, 21 degrees with the wind chill. I could move to Florida and get swept away by a hurricane, he thinks. I could move to Oklahoma and get sucked up by a tornado. I could move to California and be consumed by a wildfire. To Washington, and get buried in a mudslide. Or maybe Arizona?  Only to be slaughtered by some crazy in a movie theater, right? I mean really, where would I move?

“Ames turns the corner onto West 90th Street, trudging homeward with the wind off the Hudson in his face.”

And today? What would I write today?  The weather outside is a balmy 70 degrees. Seventy degrees! My mood has totally altered. Who can keep up?

Now. To seemingly change the subject as dramatically as the weather has shifted over the past few days, how about listening to my latest story on the crap shoot the literary marketplace has become? And no, this story isn’t about me or my efforts to get published. (Though it may be an appropriate place to remind my readers that my novel, Problems of Translation, will be published early next year, and that on December 10, at 6 pm at the Cornelia Street Cafe, I’m giving a reading from it. Ahem. Subtle, hey?)

But back to that story. A writer (I won’t mention his name but he’s someone who has already won awards) writes a short story. He sends it to a particular literary magazine. It gets rejected. He decides he still likes it, so he continues to send it, over a period of two years, to every literary magazine he can think of, without success. Then he notices that the magazine he sent it to first has a new editor, so once again he sends it there and, this time, it’s accepted. Mission accomplished, you might think.  But is that the end of the story? No. After appearing in that magazine and becoming noticed, it gets included, along with hundreds of others, in a group that gets winnowed down and winnowed down and it finally appears as one of twenty in the Best American Short Stories of 2012.  What’s the moral?  Persistence pays?  Or Serendipity rules?

Sometimes it’s bitter cold; sometimes it’s balmy; you never know.

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