Deadline

By Kevin J. Phyland

sfgenreThere are diamonds in water. There is gold in dirt. There is heaven and hell on Earth. And there is peace and comfort somewhere...else.

My editor is not a prick..well...not per se...but she or he does have timelines that seem rather absurd.

“You promised me 3000 words by next Friday!” they said. “And I'm serious,” they continued. “And if not, your vague joke of a 'collection' is a definite no-go. Get it?”

I got it.

I was tempted to send off a transcribed copy of the 407 rejection slips I'd gathered during my career.

In my head I 'd go, “There! That's a collection, you arsehole! That's the pain and personal non-growth that accompanies the litbiz! And yes...if you notice a theme that somehow implies that all my stories 'end in futility' then you might start to wonder why I feel like I do!”

But I didn't.

It would be futile. The irony didn't escape me.

I also wondered whether numbers would add to the wordcount...like...”The countdown began...3000, 2999, 2998...” but I'm not Mozart. I couldn't juggle that many balls in the air at once and make it still work. The words are all there, I just have to put them in the right order.

So, next Friday. That gave me eight days. A deadline.

I typed like crazy. Putting ideas, plot devices and half a dozen possible resolutions. That's what you do. Let the readers try to guess what you're doing. But they never will because I had a new idea.

Halfway to the deadline and still no real plot or resolution. Usually I have the start and the end before I start and the middle fills itself in...like a limerick...but not this time. The deadline had given me what I hoped was a temporary writer's block.

Then it came to me.

What if it was really a deadline? Like I'd die? OK. I finally had somewhere to go.

So I send in the story...it's only 350 words.

“I'm sorry,” I wrote, “it's not the whole thing...but it's a start.”

I email it off.

A day to go. Then I get a reply. A form letter... “Ends in futility.”

I thought about that for a while. So many times. The world is slightly futile.

Only needed one more email.

“Thank you for considering my short piece of fiction.” It needed an ending.

“If only it was just fiction.”

Now that's futility.

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About The Author

Kevin J. Phyland

Kevin J. Phyland

Finally officially retired. Writing will now take up a bit more of my time. Still working on longer pieces. 33 years spent teaching. Writing since I was 12 on and off. Something had to give. I have a penchant for short, choppy, staccato sentences with too many adjectives.

aus25grn

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SCIENCE FICTION: A POSITIVE SOCIAL INFLUENCE

Take a listen to Dr. Alan Finkel, Australia’s chief scientist on Radio National’s “Big Ideas” with Paul Barclay, who sums up Finkel’s speech in the following way:

“Our future leaders and policy makers should read more science fiction…scifi can be useful for the building of a good society.”

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