Two kinds. Short story…
… And someone else doing the hard lifting.
Whether you’re writing a short story or a six part series, there’s no substitute for words. You need them, and you need them on the page in at least a semblance of order. You use them to shape a story, to write the important scenes, and to flesh out your characters with actions, choices and dialogue. After many, many words you end up with a story.
I love this part of writing. It comes relatively easy to me, and when I can write several days in a row without interruption, I get things done quite quickly. My daily goal is 1000 words, but often I end up with more. That’s what I’ve been doing the past few weeks, and I estimate that I’m about halfway through a middle grade novel about kids fighting monster surveillance on their school.
It’s easy to get in the zone with this story, and I think it’s because I’ve had the main character in the back of my head for nearly three years. I know him pretty well, and I know what he would do in most situations. Moreover, I know his friends and his problems and his enemies, and figuring out how he solves his problems is quite fun.
Getting words on paper depends on my ability to ignore the nagging voices in the back of my head saying that the first draft sucks, or that no one is ever going to read the story, or that I could be using my life to do something much better. You have to ignore those voices. I mean, imagine a bus driver having that kind of doubts when driving . “Someone’s going to run a red light and hit the bus, so I better pull over.” That’s not going to get anyone anywhere, so the driver ignores those doubts, and so do I.
For me, doubts are always easier to ignore when drafting new material. Revising stories is where it becomes really difficult, because I start looking for all the mistakes I’ve made and all the things that suck.
But that’s a problem for later. Right now I’m writing a first draft, and I’m really enjoying it. Writing is always work, but sometimes it feel like really fun work.
The fabulous folks at Far Fetched Fables will record “The Demi-Arcanist’s Will” for their excellent podcast. I don’t have a date yet, but this is the place to look for the news.
If you can’t wait to read the story, you can find it in anthology The Worlds of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror vol. 2, edited by Robert N Stephenson. The anthology is free to download and it contains stories by great writers like James van Pelt.
Until the podcast is up you can enjoy the other stories on Far Fetched Fables. The current issue has a story by the amazing Barbara A. Barnett, and you can also find recent stories by Alex Shvartsman, Addison Smith and Ken Scholes.
This fall is turning into a cornucopia of short story publishing. The latest (and last) story of the year is “The Demi-Arcanist’s Will”, which is now out in The Worlds of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Volume 2 edited by Robert N Stephenson.
The anthology contains stories by great authors from all around the globe (South Africa, Argentina, Algeria and Australia to name a few). I’m particularly happy to be sharing the table of contents with fellow Codex writers Floris Kleijne and Samantha Murray.
And the best thing (for you, at least): the anthology is free, and you can get it as a mobi, epub or pdf.
More coolness. Far Fetched Fables (part of the District of Wonders) have made a podcast of ‘Master of Business Apocalypse’, which originally appeared in the UFO 3 Anthology.
You can listen to the story – and “1348” by Russell Hemmell – via this link.
It’s the first time I’ve had a story narrated, and I think Jonathan Sharp does a great job.
I share an office with a lot of crazily skilled people. One of them is Mikkel Frandsen, the 3D artist behind Creature Monster, and I’ve been wanting to put up a link to his page ever since I first saw his sculptures. There are so many details built into these sculptures that they’re stories all by themselves.
So if you want a load of cool, that’s the site to visit. He’s also on instagram as creaturemonster.
I moved into a new office earlier this month, so I wanted to share a glimpse of my inspiring surroundings.
As a writer I should be able to work everywhere as long as I have a computer, but for different reasons I don’t work from home. First, I work as a copywriter to supplement the Avalanche of Gold (*) that comes with short fiction writing, and networking is pretty important to bringing in business. Second, I start talking to the cat entirely too much when I’m alone, just as I tend to turn into Grumpy Internet Guy. Trust me, my head is a nicer place when I get out of the house.
Still, it rains a lot around here, which means I need a spare roof. I like writing in cafés, but there’s a limit to how much coffee I can drink (*), so a desk in an office hotel is pretty ideal for me. It helps me separate work and free time, and it’s also a good place to meet other small-business owners. We tend to help each other out with projects or troubleshooting, or by bouncing ideas back and forth.
There are about 10-15 office hotels in Aarhus. Most of them have white walls and people who take growth seriously, which is great if you want to grow. I went to see one such office and they promptly asked for my business plan and present their ideas for finding me an advisory board. I told them the business plan was to write more novels. They responded by saying that their in-house telemarketing department could boost my sales… (*)
So now I have a desk at another place called Galleri Grisk (Greed Gallery). It’s in an old chocolate factory with two basement rooms converted to ateliers. There’s a tattoo shop, a barbershop and a couple of fashion designers. Plus your usual contingent of graphics guys, photographers, and, you know, the odd text guy in the corner.
It’s not home, and it sure isn’t your everyday workspace. I like it here and hope to get a lot of novel-writing done from my new desk.
(*) No, really.
One of my short stories is out in the new issue of Space&Time Magazine! They’re celebrating their 50th year as a SF and Fantasy magazine, which makes them one of the oldest magazines in the business.
The Forgotten City is…Well, I guess it’s a story about love. Not a love story as such, since it features a rather desperate, self-delusional protagonist, but without love there wouldn’t be a story. There’s also court intrigue and a very dangerous magical city involved.
Even better, I’ll have another story coming out from them at some later point – a science fiction story called ‘Reconstruction’.
The table of contents for Issue 126 is here:
One of the things I love about being a science fiction and fantasy writer is the sense that SFF writers and fans are creating and enjoying something important together, and that we help each other do it. I’ve found the sense of community invaluable in my own writing career; it’s an invaluable boost to morale that there are other people out there who understand what you’re doing and maybe even cheer you on.
Early on, I found that helpful spirit in the online critique group Critters.org. It’s the same supportive spirit that you find behind pages such as Ralan.com or the short fiction submission tracking site The Grinder, and I continue to find support as a member of Codex Writers and SFWA. If you’re looking for resources for writing, you’ll find them.
It’s my impression that this sense of community has suffered over the last decade or so. There are fierce, even toxic debates between different factions of the SFF community, and more of them than when I started out around 2001. Political debates that are fundamentally American in nature have spilled into world SFF by influencing the Hugo Awards, among other things. I also sense from my social media streams that writers are increasingly prepared to pronounce the works of their colleagues ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ – or denounce the people themselves.
I probably can’t change that. But! I would love to focus more on the cooperation and inspiration that is so much a part of the SFF community. This is the quiet stuff that keeps our culture alive but never makes headlines anywhere.
So this is an invitation to share a story from the SFF community where someone helped you along or gave you a good piece of advice or a word of encouragement.
I’ll go first:
I met another author at WorldCon in London in 2014, and as these things go, we happened got to talk about submitting stories, and I told her I would begin querying agents after WorldCon. She said something in the vein of “Yeah, that’s uphill. You’ve got to keep at it to make it work.”
Not the most encouraging message on the surface of it, but I think anyone who’s been submitting lots of stories knows exactly how accurate it is. And I think about that answer every time I get a rejection from an agent. Why? Because another writer understood what I was trying to do, knew how hard it was, and how the only way to succeed is to keep working on it. That is something the community of writers have in common, and it’s kept me going when the going got tough.
So please, share your stories here, or leave a link to a similar story on your own blogs. You’ll be doing your colleagues and yourself a favor by doing so.