Ever since my first PC, I’ve kept my story submissions file in electronic form. It’s undergone several conversions to different formats in that time, but the basic organization hasn’t changed: new works get their opus number, they go into the last spot on the queue in the file. They don’t leave the file until they’re either moved to the sold file or the trunked file, in which case it’s cut and paste into the new file, whichever one it turns out to be.
Sitting right at the top of the Queue is a story I wrote a looong time ago; it’s even older than the current file. It’s set in a universe where I placed several of my earlier works. My first pro story, “The Passing” (Amazing SF, July 1981) was set in the same universe. By rights this story should have been trunked ages ago. It’s not very good; after so many years and stories under my belt, I can see that now. It’s probably never going to be published and I mark that a good thing. Still, it was the best I could do at the time. And Carol liked the universe enough that she wrote a poem set there which I rather liked. I incorporated it into the story, making this our one and only true collaboration. I started to call its presence in the file a ritual, but it’s not. Ritual requires action, even if only mental. This entry requires nothing except a few bytes of space.
I was thinking about it today, and once again considering removing it to the trunk file where it belongs, and once again finding that I couldn’t do it. I’ve finally realized what it is: it’s a talisman, and that’s why I’ve kept it in the file all this time. It doesn’t do anything, the story is not under submission and probably never will be again, and yet it stays.
Silly, but I feel better just knowing it’s there.