Now I love TV shows like Pimp My Ride and Overhaulin' where they take an old beat-up clunker and rejuvenate it into something extraordinary. Skill, creativity, hard work, and love beat the ravages of time any day; what comes out at the other end is better than the original ever was, and better than anything else out on the road today. But the magic of television compresses the weeks of back-breaking effort into a 30-minute pastiche. And these are cars, not stories.
So in some ways I have it easier. I simply need to rearrange some letters and punctuation, I don't have to rebuild a five-speed transmission.
Here is the dirt: Back in 1999, I wrote a short story titled "Burnt" -- it was about spontaneous human combustion, black magic, and the end of the world. I submitted it to Omni magazine (remember them?) and probably got the best personal rejection of my career; the fiction editor wrote me personally and said it was "pretty well done" and the only element that was lacking was a metaphorical resonance. Rather than re-ship it, I stuck it on my old webpage where it was available to anyone who wanted to read it. Ten years later I am reading it again, and realize I cannot "revise" this story: the cultural and political references are far out of date, the "voice" is wrong, even the first person narrative is wrong.
In car terms, the engine is seized, the chassis is rusted through, and the exhaust will never pass today's emissions requirements. So, as they say on the Internet: Walk in, see this, what do?
Well, Cherished Reader, I intend to start from scratch. I will write a story about spontaneous human combustion, black magic, and the end of the world. I will title it "Burnt" because I really like that title. It will, however, be a brand new story. It will be submitted. What happens after that is anyone's guess. Stay tuned.