My Own Worst Enemy
by Milo James Fowler
Have you ever had a story to tell, and you knew it was inside you waiting to burst forth, but you were too afraid you wouldn't be able to do it justice?
This kind of stinkin' thinkin' hit me hard when I came up with the idea for my story "Soulless in His Sight." Who was I to think I could write an homage to Faulkner's As I Lay Dying and McCarthy's The Road with Diogenes (crossbow and hatchet instead of a lamp) tossed in for good measure?
Here's the concept: What if Faulkner's Vardaman didn't know his own strength, and he hurt someone close to him? His father, a violent incarnation of McCarthy's paternal character, believes his son was born without a soul. Like Diogenes on the hunt for an honest man, the father must find a soul for his son so he can go to heaven and see his mother.
Write1Sub1 2011, I finally decided to give it a go. I wrote, polished, and submitted "Soulless in His Sight" to Shimmer, a market I'd been stalking for over a year. The editor eventually responded, "I've read this story a few times now, and though I like it very much, the ending still makes me hesitate. I think if you were to be more concrete with it, the story would be a home run."
I was definitely open to a rewrite, and after making a few minor edits and overhauling the end, the editor replied, "I like the revisions very much. Fatha and Boy are just great; the story has a genuine voice that shines."
Shimmer's July 2012 issue, and if that wasn't cool enough, in 2015 a reprint will appear in the Wastelands 2 anthology edited by John Joseph Adams. I'll be sharing a table of contents with George R. R. Martin, Orson Scott Card, Hugh Howey, and a host of others. It doesn't feel real yet. Maybe it will once I'm holding a copy in my hands!
"Soulless in His Sight” was a challenge for me to write, but I'm so glad I stuck with it and now have a story I can point to as one I didn't allow to beat me—and an example of my best work.
We don't have to be our own worst critics.
Believe in yourself. Believe in your work.
Cool stuff will happen.