Short Story Preview: A Literary Figure – Sue Hampton
Accustomed as she was to shining academically, Georgia found submission a desolate business. Her art, craft, sweat and all-consuming commitment had, it seemed, merely generated a product – for a market in which talent and intellect were poor substitutes for celebrity. Shaken to find that even her realistic expectations had left her unprepared for bone fide reality, Georgia reflected that the world was not, in any way she could think of, remotely as she would wish it; why should publishing be any different?
The agent’s unconvincing gush made way for evasion and vagueness. So in the end, the email acceptance exceeded expectation with a wildness that felt heady. It was the process itself that at one point she thought she might not survive. The sight of her work viciously tracked in red might have made a Victorian swoon with or without a bodice, but remembering the anti-depressants in her bathroom cabinet Georgia had to remind herself that she’d struggled too hard for independence from their magic to surrender again at the first assault. That was the word that struck her as she opened the attachment on her laptop to see her words slashed through and mutilated. “But maybe too literary?” Suzie the agent had suggested from the start, with the brightest of lifts at the end of the query. Every one of eighty-seven thousand words had arisen from the ashes of countless others over three and a half years. “It’s been intensively edited,” she’d said, with the kind of cool understatement she tried, when the commitment felt too emotional to control, to bring to her work.
“Don’t compromise one word,” Ted told her, playing to a non-existent gallery. He hadn’t read any one of those words in question. “No one messes with my sister.”
But at the end of negotiations she didn’t know what kind of account to give. Had she won more than she’d lost? Was she deluding herself about the benefits of concessions made or the necessity of resistance?
“It is what it is,” she’d told Ted, unable to explain.