The Losing Game: Writing Acceptance -1
Linear time is such a drag. So is the Gregorian Calendar. Business does not get wrapped up neatly in December, and it makes things like tracking annual statistics a real challenge. (I could adjust my own system to make it more efficient and to set up protocol for what to do in unusual situations, but I would much prefer the world conform to my needs than vice versa. Obviously.) I entered the Stirling Publishing Micro Fiction contest in high summer 2017 in between rushing plates and highbrow beers to the patrons crowding our sprawling patio. I worked outside every day and my skin did not tan at all, didn't even freckle. I did, however, improve my lung capacity from running around so much. I submitted frantically during that period, desperate for some accomplishment that wasn't handling the dinner rush well or not losing my shit at the customers who routinely ordered things that were not on the menu. (Sir, we do not have nachos. They are not on the menu. We cannot make them for you because we do not have corn chips. No, you have not ordered nachos here before. No, you haven't. I have worked here since the restaurant opened and not one day of our three year existence have we served nachos. Yes, you can speak to a manager.)
Stirling Publishing, who have been beyond delightful to correspond with, got back to me at the end of December of 2017 to let me know that two of my pieces had made the long list. Excited about any success that wasn't bussing an entire party's table in one trip or having said party all pay on one bill (the margins of my life are narrow, okay?), I immediately shared it as a writing acceptance. It came in as acceptance 6 of 2017. This to say, it has already been counted. I celebrated that shit aggressively.
(With nachos.) So how do I now count this current acceptance, this update in status, that has already been tallied? To advertise it as Acceptance 2/100 would be juking the stats, a proverbial double dipping into the guacamole of my victory. It would be dishonest to count an acceptance twice. So I came up with what I think is a pretty clever solution: Writing Acceptance NEGATIVE ONE.
To any mathematicians and/or mathematically inclined people who are reading this, I acknowledge that as an integer, combining negative one with one would make it seem like an acceptance had been revoked, and would result, unless I'm even worse with numbers than I thought, in 0. (Also, why are you reading this blog and not living out a Good Will Hunting situation and skyrocketing to the high life via becoming a chartered accountant? Go live the life I can't live. Be free.) But in my mind, invoking negative one is the best option I have. It's a dipping back into a past year. The negative can refer to the year and not the integer. I figured that it's that or open up a weird pocket dimension for this sort of situation, and I've seen enough sci fi to know that ripping the fabric of the space time continuum has enough potentially catastrophic ramifications to steer clear of that option. As a side note, I am not entirely sure I'm using the word integer correctly. I spent a lot of my math classes copying off of the lovely and intelligent Mikki, (thanks babe!) or across the street at the Monsieur Felix and Nortons cookies blowing my lack of fortune on the best dark chocolate cookies money could buy. Now that my system is explained and you are either nodding approvingly, defeatedly, or muttering to yourself about how I did not give this enough thought, I would like to share some exciting news with you regarding the Stirling Publishing Micro Fiction Contest. [WRITING ACCEPTANCE -1/54 **CUZ I SUBMITTED 54 TIMES LAST YEAR, GET IT? I exhaust myself.**] Dear Erin, I'm delighted to tell you that your micro fiction 'We Named Her Tabitha' placed second in its category in our short story competition. Our judge Lesley Glaister commented that "There's a beautiful simplicity here, I found this understated and quite devastating. A great example of how much can be achieved in so few words." We will be including your story in our anthology, which we expect to publish around Christmas of this year, and so we will be sending you a contract in due time. Congratulations, and wishing you all the best, The Stirling Publishing Team
YESSSSS. I am so excited not just to have placed in this awesome contest, but also to be published in the UK, and more specifically, with Stirling Publishing, who have been ridiculously awesome and communicative throughout this whole process. It feels so cool to have my work available in physical form on another continent. I like to think of myself as the international writer of very little mystery. (Because I constantly overshare and do not believe in the concept of Too Much Information.) I am also now accepting applications to take me out for nachos to celebrate. Hit me up. I will let you have most of the sour cream.
Until next time! - E.B. Kirsh