In 2003 I wrote a quiet horror story called “Martin’s Walk” about an old man who loses his wife, then tries to hold on to part of her by continuing the long hikes they used to take in the woods behind their home.
It was rejected a few times for being too sentimental or for an ending that was hopeful. I couldn’t argue with either of those assessments. Despite my best efforts, a certain percentage of my horror output seems to offer up the possibility that there may be something in life worth celebrating or that the universe occasionally doesn’t loathe us.. That’s probably a big reason I haven’t been more successful.
Finally in late 2004/early 2005, the story sold to a magazine called Strange Pleasures. After a year or so it had not appeared in print, and I contacted the editor, who told me – well, honestly, I can’t remember what he told me. The publisher was having money problems or the magazine was switching publishers. But he assured me the story would appear.
I moved on, and ultimately forgot about “Martin’s Walk”.
Until a few days ago.
I received in the mail a book called New Writings in the Fantastic, edited by John Grant. I assumed this was a book someone wanted me to review for Pod of Horror. But, folded up inside, was a letter from the editor who had accepted “Martin’s Walk” for Strange Pleasures, the real guy behind the John Grant pseudonym (or, as an old friend on mine calls it, “pseudo-name”, which I kind of like).
The letter apologized for the delay in getting the book from The United Kingdom to Kentucky. Apparently it was published in 2007. Sure enough, “Martin’s Walk” was included in the book. How it went from a magazine to anthology I can’t really say. I’m also not very happy with the lack of communication regarding the story’s eventual publication. But I read “Martin’s Walk” again and I liked it.
It has its rough patches. I would loved to have had the opportunity to polish it up and cut about 700 words from it. Still, it came from the heart, and the characters still feel as alive to me as they did when I wrote it. It remains one of my wife’s favorites among my stories.
If I ever have another collection of my short fiction I’ll probably give the story a wash and wax before including it. For now, I’m fairly happy with it, even if I didn’t know it had been published.