Since last week

This past week here in Greece has been quite hot, at least for my taste. To be honest, I don’t like being in a hot environment. By hot I mean any temperatures that exceed that of 25 degrees Celsius (77 Fahrenheit). I should say at this point that I don’t have an A/C unit in my house (please, don’t ask) and the heat in here goes beyond 33 Celsius (91-92 Fahrenheit). However, that temperature (33 Celsius) can only be achieved if I keep my super ATX PC tower (I have an inborn dislike for laptops, lol) switched off! By keeping the thing switched off, means I can’t write and this makes me feel guilty. Why? Because of the heat it generates.

When I bought the PC four years ago (back when I still had a job), I bought it having in mind that I wasn’t going to change it for at least 5-6 years, preferring to invest money on it then by buying something that would last longer and save some money in the long run. Have you ever regretted not doing something? It’s the worst kind of regret, I think. At that time I had thought to myself that a water cooler system wasn’t going to be all that necessary. I can honestly say to you now, that I regret not having spent the extra money on it. As my PC is now, its exhaust releases temperatures that exceed 45 Celsius (that’s 113 Fahrenheit!!). Can you imagine what it’s like having to spend several hours next to that oven (it’s my PC’s summertime nickname), squeezing your head for ideas while writing? I can assure you, it doesn’t work for me. Oh, yes, I should also point out that the above temperature (113 F) only applies when the PC is on but idle, meaning no heavy programs run in the foreground.

During summer time the PC stays switched off.

Luckily for me, last year I had to change my cellphone (I stress the ‘had to’, cause I’m not inflicted by consumerism). It’s one of these rare moments that I’m thankful for. That one sliver of brilliance (oh, modest me; lol) and epiphany that struck me then; spend the extra money and buy one that can support USB OTG (on the go). Of course OTG is an old tech but my previous cellphone didn’t support it (when I had bought the previous phone I had decided to spend with moderation, you see, thinking to myself “well, why one earth would I need to have OTG?? It’s not like I will use it.” DUH!).

Now that the PC is always off (or almost always with no more than two hours operating time max) I can actually hook my keyboard and mouse on the new phone and use it to write. Naturally, it’s not the best experience having to type on a 5-inch screen BUT think of the alternative. Re-read the temperatures I gave you earlier. It has drawbacks, one of which is that I can’t write more than 1000 words on it, because of the headaches I get by trying to read things on such a small screen (small when it comes to written work that spans thousands of words, perfect for almost anything else). Also, the word processor I use on the device isn’t as sophisticated as the one on the PC (and I don’t think any sane person would expect it to be, either). I can’t see the formatting, I can’t colour-code bits of the text, I can’t insert comments and notes to myself for when it’s revision time BUT I can do one thing; I can write! And I need that. At least at the moment I’ve written 32000 words (though it should have been more) which leaves about 70000 more to finish the first draft. If I ever get anywhere with my writing (though I have to be realistic and see the odds stacked against me), I could be something like Peter V. Brett (author of The Demon Cycle – great fantasy books by the way), who wrote his first novel (probably part of the second as well) on his cellphone. He calls himself “thumb-typing expert.”

Another thing that happened this past week was that I got a strange rejection for a short story. It was the type of rejection I had never encountered in the past and I didn’t know what to make of it. It read:

Dear Chris,

Thank you for submitting “XXXXX” and for your interest in XXXX. While we have to pass at this time, we wish you the best of luck in placing this story. It’s wonderfully inventive and poignant, and we hope to read more from you in the future.

Best wishes,
XXXXX, Founding Editor

The strange part for me was the last sentence. I had never been rejected with a smile before (they usually send formal letters of rejections) and most certainly never told to send another story to them in the future; not in that way at least. I was at a loss as to whether this was just another way to sweeten the pill or if it was the style of the story that didn’t fit with the style of the magazine. The latter would mean the story was ok and that I had chosen the wrong magazine for it. The first would imply that the story sucked.

I got so caught up in it, that I failed to see the bigger picture:
1) they described the story as “inventive and poignant”, which I can’t see any reason why they should do that, unless the story was at least ok-ish.
2) they made me realise how important it is to better research the magazines I sent stories to. I just get so excited when I finish editing a story and I deem it ready for the world to see, that I obviously forget to better research the potential market for it. And that leads to more rejections.

OK, I thought about that rejection too much already and it’s getting to me again. I’ll stop here 🙂

If you’ve had a similar experience with rejections or “thumb-typing” or bad writing conditions, comment below.