I had this experience this past weekend as I reread "The Silver Dollar Saucer" in galley proofs for inclusion in the "Raygun Chronicles" anthology. Funny how, looking back, this story had such a mundane start and then such difficulties getting published.
This is another case where I whipped up a story on an arbitrary maguffin - again, as in the case of the very first story I ever had published ("Silvern" in Revolution SF in 2003), a silver dollar. I distinctly remember pondering a feared case of writer's block while marking time taking photos of a girls softball game in Longview. I decided that I would reach in my pocket and write a story based on whatever random item I pulled out.
Because of the fact I was at a particular game when I did this, I know when I did this - March 2005.
Years ago, Amazon's first attempt at selling individual fiction was called Amazon Shorts, and I submitted "Saucer" to them - and it was accepted. In fact, I got a contract. Then I noticed the contract stipulated you must also have a book available for sale on Amazon.
Poor research on my part - I hadn't noticed that. My first collection, "Fantastic Texas", was still a few years away in 2009, and when pressed, I had to concede I didn't meet the requirements. The contract was withdrawn.
After that inauspicious start, it took 24 submissions and three and a half years for the story to find a home at "Raygun Revival". It was clear after a few rejections that it straddled too many genres and was hard to categorize. Was it a Weird Western? Space Opera? An alien abduction tale? Secret History? Probably all of those.
It took time, but when the Overlords at Raygun Revival saw it, they snapped it up - bless their little dilithium-crystal powered hearts.
Over the years it's proven to be one of my most popular stories, and it was included in both "Fantastic Texas" and "Texas & Other Planets" - so it's publication in "Raygun Chronicles" will be its third reprint.
Ironically, I got more than double for this republication that I did for when the story was originally published.