By Jean Roberta
As Annabeth has pointed out,
gratitude has traditionally been expected from the powerless. Sermons on
the benefits of a grateful attitude seem to have migrated from
Christian churches into various self-help groups.
interpersonal level, gratitude seems like a good idea when all parties
are interacting in good faith. If I’m grateful to someone who gives me
something, and if s/he is grateful to me for my gratitude or for
whatever I’m willing to do for them, the relationship is likely to
satisfy us both, and to last.
I’m grateful to the
latest editor with whom I had some email correspondence. I sent a query
on December 15 (submission deadline) to ask if I could have an extension
of time until Monday, December 19. The answer was fast, polite, but
negative. Editor said he planned to read all the submissions on Friday,
December 16, and make decisions. If I could send him my story by 6:00
p.m. Eastern Standard Time on that day, he would read it.
pressure! (Well, there would have been less pressure if I had started
much earlier.) Finishing the story therefore took precedence over my
post for this blog. I emailed it on time. This morning, I got a fast
rejection (“not quite right for this anthology”), although Editor said
my story was an enjoyable read.
So now I have a
relatively non-erotic “soft” sci-fi story that could be tweaked in
various directions and sent somewhere else for consideration. I checked
out submission requirements for several sci-fi and fantasy venues: Beneath Ceaseless Skies (literary adventure-fantasy, no sci-fi), Clarkesworld, Lightspeed (temporarily closed for submissions), the Magazine of Science fiction and Fantasy (venerable magazine founded in 1949 – snail-mail okay, and apparently required), Not One of Us (must focus on people/things out of place in their surroundings, can’t open .docx submissions), Strange Horizons (temporarily closed for fiction submissions).
am grateful for the call-for-submissions that inspired me to write this
story, which is actually an extreme revision (or overhaul) of an older
erotic fantasy story which was apparently incomprehensible to everyone
but me. It was rejected for an anthology several years ago, so I sent it
to a fantasy writer I trust for an opinion, and she politely explained
that she didn’t get it either.
In general, I could say
that I am grateful to whatever force in the universe creates the
strange, twisty road of any human life that leads to good things, but
especially the lives of writers, in which “hard facts” and fantasy don’t
collide as much as they intertwine. One thing often leads to another in
ways that are hard to foresee at the time.
startle me into gratitude are usually unexpected. Some of these events
have even suggested the intervention of a Guardian Angel or some other
There was a previous winter when
Spouse and I were on an icy road, and another driver “threw his truck”
(Spouse’s words) at us, which caused our much smaller vehicle to skid
off a snow embankment and slide 180 degrees so that we were facing
oncoming traffic, but all the other drivers slowed down, and we were
able to turn around and continue on our way. Our car emerged without a
scratch. (I didn’t remember this in time for the "Close Calls" topic.)
was the time when I, as a poverty-stricken single mother, was walking
down the street near a downtown park, and a Canadian twenty-dollar bill
brushed up against my leg like a friendly dog asking for attention.
was an earlier event in the Single-Parent Co-op, a hotbed of gossip in
which I held the keys to every apartment in my building because I was
the elected Block Rep, responsible for letting in repairmen as needed.
The downside of my power (which was explained to me by a previous Block
Rep) was that every time another resident couldn’t find an item, the
holder of the keys could be accused of stealing it. Then another
resident told me pointedly that she had gone to the police to report a
beef roast that was stolen right off her kitchen table. (I hadn't seen
This story disturbed me because the morale of the
whole building could be affected by rumours about a sinister, crooked,
red-meat-addicted Block Rep.
One day, when I was
walking my young daughter home from school, she picked a purse off the
ground in the parking lot. I located the owner (in another building of
the co-op), but didn’t check out the contents, which seemed too private
for my eyes. Several days later, I heard the backstory: the purse owner
had cashed her entire paycheque (over $600, a large sum in the early
1980s) before going out drinking with friends, and then lost her purse
in the parking lot after she drove home. She had been desperate until
she retrieved her purse from me, and found every penny intact.
I told my father later while relating this story, it would have been
nice of the purse-owner to give me a small reward, which I could have
spent on my daughter. My father told me that my good reputation was
restored to me, and that was my reward. He had a point.
don't have any devout faith in supernatural intervention, but if the
vast, general unfolding of time sometimes throws me a juicy bone, I'm
glad to acknowledge it.