About five years ago a small literary magazine on the west coast published a number of my short stories. One of these, entitled "Bag of Tricks", was that magazine's nomination for inclusion in The Best American Mystery Stories . . . an annual book series that is published each year around October.
This was the first time one of my stories was nominated for anything--and come to think of it--the only time. As it turns out, the story wasn't selected by the editorial committee as one of the top 100 for the year, but I've never been a top 100 anything . . . I'm not even a top 1 million.
Still, among all of the hundreds of stories I've written over the years, when people ask me, "What do you consider your best?", "Bag of Tricks" often comes to mind.
But for some reason, I continue to hang onto the thought that my best stories have remained unpublished. "Steiner the Violinist", for example, is a story that I wrote nearly 20 years ago, and I submit it anew every year to various magazines . . . but alas, no one seems to want it, although I often get editorial feedback telling me it's a moving tale. And I recently submitted another story, "The Tall Girl's Wedding", to a romance-writers contest . . . holding out the hope that someone will recognize the chutzpa of this quirky love story about a very tall woman. I wrote it nearly a decade ago and love it more every time I re-read it. But then, it might just be fanciful dreaming since I have a munchkin for a wife.
I've got so many short stories completed and in-progress . . . science fiction, mystery, romance, literary, slice-of-life, humorous . . . it's difficult to remember them all. (Actually, I don't remember then all.) Every now and again I complete another and send it forth to stand on its own legs. But most stories, I'm afraid, don't walk. Though every now and then one of them runs away and doesn't come back until it shows up in the pages of a publication.
As long as my brain and fingers hold out, I'll keep writing them. I keep hoping someone will nominate me for a PERSISTENCE AWARD. After all, I've been writing stories since I was twelve years old--nearly forty years now--and I might as well continue until I die.