The Very Spring and Root

An engineer's adventures in education (and other musings).

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Resolutions Unresolved

So much for last year’s resolutions. Let’s check in one-by-one.


Write something everyday. I gave myself the options of journal, letter, blog, or fiction. This was going very well actually, until a mysterious event in late August seems to have thrown me off track. My journal entries are regular until August 17th, after which the next entry is… November 18th. And my letters fell off the map, and I didn’t update this blog at all (or even tweet really), and yeah I didn’t write any fiction after the first day of school.

Meditate regularly. I set a target of 20 minutes per day, at least three days a week. My Meditation Helper app shows a great record until, oh, mid-August. The record doesn’t pick up again until early December. FAIL.

Become conversant in Spanish. I have made lot of progress on this front, though I would rate myself short of “conversant.” The need is huge. Not only for my work in a public school (I wish I knew Spanish roughly once a week at least), but also my side interests in politics and community engagement. Ongoing, but short of the goal. FAIL.

Deactivate my Facebook account. I reactivated my Facebook account on April 15th, in the immediate wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. Once I made sure all of my friends and colleagues had checked in ok, I deleted the account permanently. (I did make a new account with zero friends, likes, or apps, solely to remain in the BTR Cohort X Facebook group for social event notifications.) I call that a win. SUCCESS.


Jamaica Pond, Month by Month. Now this would have been cool. A photo diary, month by month, of Jamaica Pond as it changed throughout the year. Too bad the project was mysteriously aborted in… August. (Actually, to be fair, finishing up my BTR residency year took a toll on this one too… late spring was sketchy). FAIL.

Complete a First Draft Novel. This one could still be possible… I made it up to 36,o00 words over the summer before the school year hit. The word count hasn’t moved up a single word since. However, now that I am back home and rested, with a full week and a half left of break… could I hit 50,000 words and cross into novel territory? PENDING.

Yeah so, lesson learned: Don’t assume you can do anything else but try to stay alive during your first fall teaching. It seems better now, but I am still very busy. I’ll have to think about my next steps before posting 2014’s goals…

Boskone: The Year in Short Fiction – 2012


The Year in Short Fiction: 2012
Short fiction may be making a welcome comeback, in both print and e-media. Let’s discuss last year’s most notable stories. What new authors and markets are emerging? What promising trends are developing? What are we already getting tired of? What can we look forward to for 2013?
David G. Hartwell (M), Jack M. Haringa, Don D’Ammassa, Toni L. P. Kelne

Hartwell opens with the statement that is “an extraordinary time” for short fiction, and that we seem to be in the early stages of a revival that we haven’t seen the likes of since the 30s and 50s. He recommends reading “Old Paint”, which appeared in Analog last year. He remarks that he liked it despite that fact that it is “sentimental, which is hard to take in science fiction.”

(Note: Compare this to comments made in the Mythology panel, in which an audience member also commented about the expectation that science fiction be cerebral. My opinion is that if science fiction really does want to expand into new markets, its going to have to actively fight the image of being solely for cerebral-minded men who like spaceships. There is SO MUCH of current and past science fiction that does NOT fit this stereotype, and plenty of room to expand it outward as well. I’m not criticizing Hartwell… he is a giant of editing and no doubt knows the field better than I could hope to. Its just that the offhanded remark kind of struck me as a common theme that I’ve been seeing in a lot of the panels and other discussion around SF.)

Hartwell highlights the contributions of Robert Reed and Ken Liu to the body of short fiction produced in 2012, remarking that one of the hardest things about the year was deciding which Ken Liu story to include in just about everything.

Hartwell goes on to praise Liu’s recent work with translation, saying that he hopes this will become part of a larger trend towards more translated works. He says there is a huge untapped universe of non-US science fiction work out there since the 1950s that we simply don’t have adequate access to. Specifically, he would like to see true comparative criticism of science fiction across nations and languages, that compare movements, ideas, and reactions between cultures.

Haringa says that 2012 was a great year for collections and anthologies and thinks the trend will continue. He points out that the rise of POD and small presses does mean that there is more crap out there, but also that there are more avenues to get out there for formats (like novellas) that are hard for the big presses to touch.

(There is a back and forth here for several minutes between Hartwell and Haringa about the role, quantity, quality, and trends of small presses, particularly with respect to print periodicals. I was not able to follow the conversation, but my interpretation was that their disagreement came down to semantics on what constituted a periodical.)

I asked the question about what specifically they were getting tired of and what we could expect for 2013.

Hartwell: There is a proliferation of new markets and a fanning out of where the field is at any one time. The downside of this is that its impossible for any one person to really stay on top of what’s happening in the field, but the upside is that there are a lot of opportunities for new young writers. He sees trends in examining artificial intelligence particularly in light of the biotech revolution, and what the new bioengineering era will bring in terms of visionary futures.  He is tired of zombies and vampires.

Kelner: anthologies seem to be rising and hope to see more of them. Tired of stories that are all mood and no plot. 2013 trends will probably include more crossed genre work, blending of fantasy, science fiction, horror, urban fiction, etc.

Haringa: Noticed a lot more submissions for the Jackson awards from university presses. This seems like a good sign that we have infiltrated academia as a genre. Used to be they wouldn’t touch us as a serious genre. Tired of the dystopian boom, but thinks we’re probably dropping off of that anyway since it was likely jut a reaction to the sudden instability of the times. Hoping to see more short story collections and great themed anthologies in 2013.

(Note: I wonder if the reason anthologies and collections are selling well is the coherence of theme. A magazine issue is a collection of short stories as well, they generally aren’t related. Whereas an anthology can be marketed and sold as a diverse set of variations on a particular theme that may be of interest to the reader.)

Whither Science Fiction?

Science fiction, like so many aspects of the world right now, feels like it is on the cusp of a major shaking up. One year ago, Neil Stephenson provoked a flurry of discussion with his article on the decline of bold and innovative ideas in our contemporary society, and science fiction in particular. More recently, Jonathan McCalmont posted am extensive assessment of a the state of science fiction, provocatively entitled “Cowardice, Laziness, and Irony: How Science Fiction Lost the Future,” which has drawn fire for criticizing the science fiction publishing establishment and some of the most lauded authors in the genre.

I don’t agree with everything in either of those articles, but I do agree that science fiction is due for a makeover. What has been done was brilliant in its way — generations of writers and artists who dreamed of what we could be and warned us against what we could become. But so much has changed about our society and I don’t think that the media establishment, including traditional publishers, have changed with it. Innovation is ultimately driven by and for people, and who we are as a people no longer conforms to where the genre has been.

I am particularly interested in the perceived narrow appeal of science fiction. Why is the stereotype sci-fi geek a particular race, class, gender, and personality? Is it because the genre is inherently of interest only to this set of people? Or could it be that what gets published and awarded attracts only that set, who are the ones that rise up in the genre and in turn become the publishers and awarders?

Put more specifically, does the current portfolio of literary science fiction published in the United States actually reflect the current cultural, linguistic, socioeconomic, and gender demographics of literate Americans? I really don’t think so. So why is anyone surprised that the appeal of the tried and true seems to be waning?

The tide is changing however. New periodicals like Lightspeed Magazine for example are embracing new publishing models, going with solely electronic format and easy mobile web access from the very beginning. They also explicitly embrace diversity in their submissions:

We believe that the science fiction/fantasy genre’s diversity is its greatest strength, and we wish that viewpoint to be reflected in our story content and our submission queues; we welcome submissions from writers of every race, religion, nationality, gender, and sexual orientation.

In a similar vein, The Future Fire has been accepting submissions on an anthology call entitled We See a Different Frontier. They are more blunt about their purpose:

We See a Different Frontier will publish new speculative fiction stories in which the viewpoint is that of the colonized, not the invader. We want to see stories that remind us that neither readers nor writers are a homogeneous club of white, male, Christian, hetero, cis, monoglot, anglophone, able-bodied Westerners.

I don’t know where this is going nor am I sure that it will necessarily be better. But I seem to have discovered a love for writing fiction during a major shift in social attitudes, which has made me think about my experiences and personal perspective in interesting ways.

It’s definitely going to be a writing weekend…

Edit 10/13/12: Repaired the link to McCalmont’s article.

Neil Gaiman on Rejection

The best reaction to a rejection slip is a sort of wild-eyed madness, an evil grin, and sitting yourself in front of the keyboard muttering “Okay, you bastards. Try rejecting this!” and then writing something so unbelievably brilliant that all other writers will disembowel themselves with their pens upon reading it, because there’s nothing left to write. Because the rejection slips will arrive. And, if the books are published, then you can pretty much guarantee that bad reviews will be as well. And you’ll need to learn how to shrug and keep going.

Neil Gaiman (via leap-before-you-look)

Literacy in the Science Classroom

I’ve been thinking a lot about literacy across the curriculum since I took a class called… well, Literacy Across the Curriculum. As a science teacher in training, I suppose one might wonder why I would want to think so much about literacy, but the more I do the more I realize how important it will be.

Literacy as a goal is an important prerequisite for science instruction as it is a primary means by which science content is accessed. In other words, a student’s aptitude for, learning of, and/or inclination towards science may be irrelevant if they are unable to read the textbook, write what they know on an exam, or share their thoughts with peers. This means that it isn’t enough to simply focus on content. Literacy as the means by which science is accessed in effect makes it my job as a science teacher to ensure functional literacy in my students.

Literacy as a process is also an important tool that may be used to open up many oft-neglected aspects of science education. I am saddened and/or annoyed when I come across people who assume science is little more than crunching equations, sitting at a computer, or conducting solitary experiments in an isolated laboratory. But given how education and the media present science to the public, who can blame them?

Science which is politicized suffers from accusations of manipulative agendas, and the science which touches on contemporary social issues is often labeled as “controversial” or “disputed.” Human-caused climate change, the link between vaccinations and autism, the veracity of Darwinian evolution, ethical considerations of genetic engineering, the origins of our planet and universe, the appropriateness of funding for scientific endeavors — these are all issues in contemporary American life that are highly interwoven with scientific research and discourse. There are many more examples ranging from the mundane to the cosmic. Nearly every aspect of daily modern life is influenced by science, yet in many cases, science education can remain far removed from a place of relevance in students’ lives.

It seems to me that as education experiences a push towards increasing quantification in the name of accountability, the scientific and mathematical disciplines have been particularly susceptible to a systematic gutting of all that is not quantifiable. The ease with which certain aspects of science and math (e.g. numeracy and equation solving) may be quantified has made it just as easy to push out the “fuzzier” aspects of these two disciplines, reinforcing a negative feedback loop of misconception regarding what science actually is.

Real science cannot ever be de-politicized or de-socialized. Science is always conducted towards some end, and these ends are driven (and funded) based on socio-political objectives and needs. To isolate science from the other disciplines and focus purely on its quantitative aspects is to strip science of its essential humanity, and relegate it to the safe sterility of some abstract laboratory in the public imagination.

Ironically, it is imagination that is perhaps the most neglected aspect of science education. Science is two-sided in this fashion. On the one hand, study of what is, how the world works and our relationship to it. On the other, it must also be an imagining of what could be. The latter aspect is the core of what drives innovation, research, and scientific progress, and it is tied intimately with cross-disciplinary, out-of-the-box thinking.

This will be a major focus of my residency year I think. Lot’s to try and figure out here, maybe for the rest of my career.

Arc 1.3 Competition – Science Fiction

Link: Arc 1.3 Competition – Science Fiction

Found my writing project for the next month. Game on.

Arc, in collaboration with The Tomorrow Project, is looking for new, original stories – between 3000 and 5000 words – set in the near future. Technology, from robotics to synthetic biology to geo-engineering – should be featured prominently. But we’re looking for stories, not theses, and the human element will have to be compelling.

The current theme for submissions is “Post Human Conditions”. We want you to explore the post human condition and tell us what you see. Is humanity due for a make-over? Dare we change ourselves? And into what? Fifteen or twenty years from now, will we have made ourselves happier, or not? What will “happiness” mean to our children, and their children?

You’ll find our own approaches to that theme throughout Arc 1.2. Distinctive, thoughtful visions inspired by this theme are more likely to be successful, so it’s very important that you follow the first rule of writing and read the magazine first! Arc’s editors will select one story for publication in the next issue. We will pay £500 for that story and £200 for each of five shortlisted stories.

What We Could Be If We Tried

I got a lot of good feedback from friends/colleagues regarding my last post on defending the literary and humanistic elements of science fiction. The discussion led me to an important point which got left out of that post.  While using a speculative setting and premise to examine human element is certainly what I personally like best about the science fiction that I read and write, there is also another important role that the genre plays (or should play): to inspire and advocate for new ways of thinking, understanding, and living. As I wrote before, all art both reflects and influences the society in which it finds itself. For science fiction, examining the human condition is the reflection part; imagining the future is the influencing part. There seem to be a variety of opinions as to what the balance between the two should be however.

Neil Stephenson’s article in the World Policy Journal, Innovation Starvation has been creating quite the kerfuffle in the science fiction community for the past few months. In it, Stephenson argues that the genre has come to be dominated by inward-looking, dystopian, and cynical renderings of humanity and its near future. Perhaps this is not surprising considering the times… I certainly sense widespread disaffection with the world and its institutions at the moment, and just as certainly have little confidence myself that these institutions are capable of seriously addressing the grave problems facing our nation, world, and species. But I think Stephenson’s point is that especially in uncertain times, it is incumbent on a genre like science fiction to imagine a way out:

Believing we have all the technology we’ll ever need, we seek to draw attention to its destructive side effects. This seems foolish now that we find ourselves saddled with technologies like Japan’s ramshackle 1960’s-vintage reactors at Fukushima when we have the possibility of clean nuclear fusion on the horizon. The imperative to develop new technologies and implement them on a heroic scale no longer seems like the childish preoccupation of a few nerds with slide rules. It’s the only way for the human race to escape from its current predicaments. Too bad we’ve forgotten how to do it.

There is obviously a valid point to be made here. I don’t think anyone who has talked to a group of scientists and engineers can deny that science fiction has influenced many (though certainly not all) of our best and brightest on the front lines of innovation and discovery. I absolutely agree that the sheer amount of pessimism out there does get to be a drag sometimes when getting through the latest issues of the mags. And our society in general does seem to have lost the capacity to think long term, to dream about what could be, and to consider anything beyond what affects them immediately and directly.

However, I think what irks me about Stephenson’s rant is that it seems to imply at least two notions which I find disingenuous:

  1. The only “good” science fiction is that which is centered on speculation about the future.
  2. A cynical viewpoint about the future expressed in science fiction is “bad” because it doesn’t spur the imagination and innovation needed to get to a better future.

With respect to implication 1, I have to insist that science fiction as a genre does not necessarily have to include future at all. It certainly can, and often does. But to me, all that is required is a premise that rationally speculates on some aspect of science. Steampunk is the perfect example of this: its works imagine a world in which steam and mechanical technology evolved more rapidly than electronics. Most aren’t set in the future at all, but often go into the past. Yet the stories rely on rigorous speculation about how science would work under different circumstances. (For the record, I have other issues with Steampunk, but that’s a post for another day.)

Also with respect to implication 1, I have to also insist that imagining what could be in terms of our own society and humanity is at best only half of the function of any art form; examining who we are now is perfectly legitimate, and moreover just as vital. This is the proverbial “holding up the mirror” to society that has been a mainstay role of the arts since ancient times.

Science fiction writer Charles Stross put it well:

We’re living in the frickin’ 21st century. Killer robot drones are assassinating people in the hills of Afghanistan. Our civilisation has been invaded and conquered by the hive intelligences of multinational corporations, directed by the new aristocracy of the 0.1%. There are space probes in orbit around Saturn and en route to Pluto. Surgeons are carrying out face transplants. I have more computing power and data storage in my office than probably the entire world had in 1980. (Definitely than in 1970.) We’re carrying out this Mind Meld via the internet, and if that isn’t a 1980s cyberpunk vision that’s imploded into the present, warts and all, I don’t know what is. Seriously: to the extent that mainstream literary fiction is about the perfect microscopic anatomization of everyday mundane life, a true and accurate mainstream literary novel today ought to read like a masterpiece of cyberpunk dystopian SF.

This brings me to implication 2. So here we are, in some respects living the dystopia that the science fiction of yesteryear feared and loathed. Yes, putting more optimistic work out there is one great way to counter all the negativity and nihilism in the world right now. But it’s not the only way. Dystopia can inspire positive progress as well. As futurism blogger Mike Labossiere writes on io9:

On one hand, such works could provide ideas which would inspire later innovation. For example, a dystopian work could still include descriptions of interesting technologies or innovations that latter engineers of scientists might duplicate. There is also the possibility that such works could provide an inspiration in a negative way. That is, by portraying a horrific future a writer could inspire people to try to avoid that possible future. […] That is, the bad can be inspirational — provided that there is a strong element of the possibility of the good.

So where does that leave us? I’m not sure. For me, the debate has definitely made me look at my own writing. Sure enough, the two short stories I have in submission circulation right now are fairly pessimistic about our near-term future (though both feature protagonists who struggle to create positive meaning and identity in those dark futures… I’m a Hemingway fan). Maybe I should take a look at what else I could bring to the table.

It’s not that I don’t have optimistic ideas about the future; indeed, I’m often labeled a stubborn idealist. I guess I discard these ideas as subjects of my writing often because it’s a lot harder to bring in good character conflict when everything is fine. I, for one, CAN’T STAND the science fiction that goes on for pages about describing some technology or system or society, but nothing much happens to the PEOPLE. I want a story dammit, not an engineering manual… I read enough of the latter at work. I also don’t want a psychology textbook or a cultural anthropologist’s field report. To be sure, those can be the seeds of good worldbuilding, but the output of your worldbuilding is not a story in and of itself.

I will amend my argument, and hopefully arrive at a compromise, with the following: I know there are fundamental human conflicts, mostly of the inner variety, that aren’t going to go away, no matter what our future holds. Love. Identity. Belonging. Isolation. Mortality. Hope. Perhaps the challenge I need to set for myself as a still-forming science fiction writer is to blend these with a positive vision of what we could be if we tried… Sounds lovely actually, if hard. Maybe I’ll give it a shot.

In Defense of Science Fiction

I sent a draft of one of my latest stories to a friend with whom I’ve been sharing a lot of my writing lately. Being a writer herself, she gave me some great feedback, and I’m always appreciative of her perspective. Part of her response caught my mind though, and I’ve been thinking about it since. She said that she really liked my approach to storytelling on that piece because it combined futurism and humanity, and that it surprised her. Why? Because:

I hardly read sci-fi and fantasy stuff, one reason being that I find it hard to relate to the subject matter. I can better connect to a story if there is strong character development.

And I thought, wow, does science fiction really have that reputation for being so scrappy? Looking back at what gets popularized in the media, I suppose I can’t blame the “non-geek” public for thinking that science fiction is some niche genre for comic-book-guys who would rather nerd out to Death Star plans than appreciate depth of character or linguistic finesse.

I think this perception of science fiction kind of gets into the difference between what I would call “pop culture” science fiction and “literary” science fiction. For example, consider Star Wars… most people would call that sci-fi, but it really doesn’t meet most of the general criteria for it. I would actually call it more of a highly commercialized “western-meets-fantasy” that happens to take place in space. Oh and it sells a lot of merchandise. Definitely more “entertainment” than “art”, and there are those different camps in every creative field. (And don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with this, I own a ton of Star Wars books and memorabilia myself… it’s a generalization.)

Literary science fiction is quite a bit broader and deeper than some folks might think. There are a whole bunch of sub-genres, such as cyberpunk (advanced computational systems, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, etc), steampunk (parallel world in which steam and mechanical technology developed far faster than electronics), gothic, alternate history, galactic empire type stories, higher abstract life form type stories, etc etc. Within these subgenres there is a range of hardness, from what they call “hard” sci-fi (rigorously defined scientific underpinning for everything going on, clear ties to known physics) to “soft” sci-fi (loosely defined science, more suspension of disbelief). And then on top of that I would say that is a whole separate range of “technology-driven” or “character-driven”.  So yeah! Lots of variety.

Example: Most people have read Flowers for Algernon. It’s a beautiful and touching human story, and not many people consider that to be science fiction just because there are no spaceships and laser pistols, but technically it is well within science fiction as a genre (in fact it was originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction)… the premise is an element of scientific speculation (the ability to confer boosted intelligence on a sentient being) that leads to consequences and conflict for the characters (does the fact that the subject will lose this intelligence and be painfully aware of his descent back into a mentally retarded state make the temporary boost worth it?).

It’s been said by many that the best science fiction asks one or more “what if?” questions, then explores the consequences of that on people. Some of my personal favorites:

  • What if warp drive were possible, and the resulting contact with dozens of new species rallied humanity around setting aside our differences and embracing exploration and knowledge as our highest pursuits? What if in doing so, however, we were forced to confront the best and worst parts of what makes us human? Star Trek (Gene Roddenberry)
  • What if we created an artificial intelligence so advanced that it didn’t even know that it was artificial? What if we devise a construct that genuinely believes itself to be human and even we “normal” humans can’t tell the difference either without disassembling it… is it effectively human? What if people got very scared of the consequences of this and tried to eliminate them, and they rebelled? Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?  (Phillip K. Dick, also loosely made into the movie Bladerunner).
  • What if contact with a particular alien species forced us to re-examine everything we thought we knew and believed about God and spirituality and what it means to sin or be virtuous? What if our anthrocentric perspective of religion was turned on its head? Would it destroy our capacity and desire for faith, or make them stronger? The Sparrow (Maria Doria Russell)
  • What if the relativistic effects of deployment in interstellar war created huge gaps in culture and language between soldiers and the civilians they defend? What if after a 2-year deployment to the front in subjective time, a solider returned to find 30 years had passed on Earth, and after a couple more tours over a thousand years had gone by at home?  The Forever War (Joe Haldeman)

In this way, science fiction is, in my opinion, one of the best vehicles for exploring the human condition. By using a speculative backdrop, we can “artificially” isolate or enhance the various factors that influence how people behave, and thereby investigate what it even means to be human. The novel I just finished reading, The Forever War, for example, was strongly based on Haldeman’s experiences in Vietnam. In reading it, we can see how exaggerating the culture shock that real soldiers experience when returning from deployment, by making the conflict an interstellar one, lets us look in a new way at how we count the human psychological cost of war. Does a returning soldier sometimes feel like an alien in his or her own home? I mean, just try and tell me that’s not culturally relevant right now.

I think science fiction can hold its own with any other literary genre in the best tradition of what makes a good story: telling an emotional truth through a literal fiction. Sure, you have popularized, superficial, unadulterated entertainment sometimes, just like any other genre… but the deeper stuff is there, and plenty of it, if you look.

I sometimes wish that people didn’t have this insatiable need to classify things. A good story is a good story, no matter what the marketers and publishers file it under. The sad part is that I feel like there are a lot of people who would really enjoy the themes and ideas in a lot of science fiction, but never get exposed to it because they are not interested in the popular idea of sci-fi, or the culture that surrounds it.

Admittedly, geekdom does go hand in hand with science fiction (yeah that’s me in a Starfleet TNG tactical uniform, so what). You don’t have to be a geek to enjoy what this genre has to offer though.

But you don’t have to take my word for it, as a leader among readers once said… splurge on some free short fiction and check it out yourself. Science fiction literary magazines Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, and Lightspeed are just a few that I’ve noticed running great character-driven stories. I’m sure there’s a lot more out there, those are just the ones I’ve been reading lately.

I’ll even peg some example short stories I recently read and liked for their focus on character, good writing, and/or thoughtful premise:

Movement (pdf), by Nancy Fulda (Asimov’s)

Ruminations in an Alien Tongue, by Vandana Singh (Lightspeed)

My She, by Mary Rosenblum (Lightspeed)

The Paper Menagerie (pdf), by Ken Liu (F&SF)

Prayer, by Robert Reed (Clarkesworld)

Convinced yet?

This is a fantastic commencement address given by noted science fiction author Neil Gaiman. He speaks primarily of writing, but the message is beautifully applicable to any art form… including simply living life.

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.

The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.

Data on why you should keep submitting rejected work! I Should Be Writing, Episode 239: Interview with Vylar Kaftan (science-fiction short story writer) contains a link to some interesting statistics on Kaftan’s submissions.  In the interview, she says “have faith and keep trying.” I think most wannabe writers have heard that so often that it starts to sound trite, but this time it comes with data.

I note (and much of the details are discussed in the interview) that even after 7 years, three dozen short stories, and a Nebula… Kaftan’s work still takes an average of about 6 submissions before acceptance, a number which apparently hasn’t changed over time (even as she has become more well-known and established). Further, there was no difference in the submission count between pro- and non-pro markets.

Even her Nebula-nominated story I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You In Reno was rejected three or four times before getting picked up by Lightspeed. One story took 19 submissions to get accepted, and that one received six Nebula recommendations.

So… wow. Makes me feel a whole lot better about my two lousy rejection letters. Time to revise and resubmit elsewhere!