I had my first real taste of writer’s rejection recently, with my “short” story A Traffic Stop with RobotCop. As you can see, I’ve decided to just post the 16,000 word beast on my blog (and on Medium). I understand that this is sort of a no-no in the writing subculture, as it represents a thin-skinned response, a lack of resolve, a devaluation of one’s hard work yadda yadda…
The thing is that I want the story to be readily available, in the record, and off my desk, even if very few people actually end up reading it. Apparently the U.S. Supreme Court decided very recently that illegal stops (by cops) can still yield admissible evidence. Justice Sotomayor wrote a scorching dissent and her obvious outrage, frustration and compassion made me remember how I tried to distill my insignificant howl at the power structure into a document that is incisive, enjoyable and has some ring of truth to it.
So I submit my story to the blog-o-sphere. I’m going to reprint the note I included with my first email submission, because I think it still adequately expresses how I feel about this story:
I won’t be coy: RobotCop is my response to the recent media attention surrounding the killing of civilians, mostly of color, by police officers. However, my intention for the story is not for it to function as a screed or polemic. There is plenty of shouting going on in the media already, and besides, I know all too well the feeling of reading or hearing something I agree with fundamentally, yet feeling repulsion due to the author or speaker’s clumsy expression or interpretation of the facts and ideas in question. So I wanted to explore these issues with a light touch. The question that prompted me was essentially this: what if someone designed a robotic police officer, but he refused or was unable to take part in even the smallest acts of corruption? The opportunity for a dark, gritty tale was evident, but with that approach, bitterness seemed a foregone outcome. So I designed RobotCop with a humor circuit, and added a few zany touches to the narrative. I cast Rombus and Argyle as archetypes, but attempted to humanize them both – populating their thoughts with noble ideals, yet having their actions play out in sometimes ugly ways, and at cross-purposes. I hope that I’ve come up with something that makes its point without being heavy-handed, and I hope you, the editors, will be interested enough to request the full story.