Story of the Story: For Sale: One Red Planet
YOU CAN'T SELL A ROUGH DRAFT
except when you do
For Sale: One Red Planet is a fun little sci-fi piece about a man who has inherited ownership of Mars from a distant relation, and it is the last privately held planet in the solar system. Through a series of Craigslist like posts, he tries to sell the planet. Beset by spammers, reluctant inquiries, lookie-loos, and interplanetary racists, he finally settles on selling to a population of squatters who have established colonies in some of the canyons of the Red Planet.
This was a fun story to write, and it was very much a spur of the moment, off the cuff, rough draft fired from a gun with a shady history with bullets I found in a dumpster. And it worked.
I will admit, with some shame, that I wrote and sold this story as is, with no editing or drafting done. What you see in the book is an unaltered rough draft. I assume I was lucky, that I submitted to an anthology that perhaps didn't get so many entrants, or the editor was desperate, or...who knows? But the magic was there.
I told the story through a series of emailed exchanges based on some of my own experiences selling and buying on Craigslist, and on the idea that I would want to tell an unconventional Mars story. And, wouldn't it be kind of funny if you owned a planet that no body wanted?
The story is also somewhat in the vein of The Money Pit, where issue after issue arises when trying to make the sale of the planet (or finish renovating the house.) Through the survey process the main character discovers that the planet is on a historic registry and can only be mined in a specific way, and then that aliens have moved in.
For Sale was a light-hearted story, and I think the off-the-cuff rush to finish the story before the submission deadline (literally ten minutes before midnight) gave it the light, quirky feel. In a profession where perfection at all times is expected and one can expect to spend days or even weeks perfecting your story, I managed to sneak in a unicorn - a successful first draft.
Big thanks to Juliana Rew of the Third Flatiron Publishing house! She has printed two of my stories (and I am proud to say that the second story, a favorite of mine, went through several drafts and was accepted as well. I hope Juliana will forgive my unprofessionalism with For Sale!)