Look at that wicked header. LOOK AT IT. That is the work of my awesome wife, Chrissy of Adia Designs. And yes, she is between sites right now. I am off to fix that.
Oh my gosh, well, color me silly. I totally missed that my story “Talking Animals” went up on Every Day Fiction!
It’ll only take you a couple of minutes to read it. So go read it!
Now that you have read it.
This is one of my very favorite pieces I have ever written. It fell out almost completely perfect, and referenced a lot of my favorite books. I really enjoyed thinking about a twisted version of anthropomorphic animal stories, since those were always my favorite books as a child. I also enjoyed blurring the lines between fantasy and reality as I wrote about the ways the rats–are they real? are they not? you don’t know!–destroyed the other animals.
The final line was originally “and cheered for NIMH.” I love that line still, but after enough comments about the specificity of the reference, I decided it needed to be “the rats.”
This was meant to be a post for the end of the Clarion Write-a-Thon. Ha. BUT. I’ve been writing like crazy.
First, my soft underbelly: I post fanfiction related to James Roberts’ Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye comic series (NO SHUT UP IT’s ART OF THE HIGHEST CALIBER) at Transfans.co.uk under the name bumblemusprime. Get the comic series, then read my sticky fan tribute!
I swore off fanfic in 1994. See, after reading Mossflower to pieces, I wrote my own Redwall novel, and, with no Internet to guide me, sent it to Brian Jacques. He sent back a note saying “Your story is well written, but you need to think of your own ideas and characters!”
I vowed to heed him; sorry, Brian Jacques, but the MTMTE series is that good. Vow broken.
PS: Brian I not-so-humbly submit that my novel, at the age of fourteen, was fourteen badgers’ worth better than The Bellmaker. You phoned it in on that one.
I reached my Write-a-Thon goal earlier this week. I completed a short novel at 51,000 words, which is pretty good for me, considering my typical novel runs around 150,000 words. Life goal achieved: be brief!
I cooked on this novel. On high heat. Broil, lots of salt. Extended food metaphor here.
When I cook my prose quickly, I don’t cut and rewrite. A crucial character needs a whole new plot and arc, but I just wanted to get through to the end and so I limped him along as a passive whiny brat.
I learn from writing badly, in theory. Well, I learn but it’s hard to say what at this point… which also comes from writing quickly, because one ends in a stunned daze, a few pounds overweight, sucking chocolate and coffee like a babe at the teat. Usually I can see the cracks and the poor judgment and the curdled milk in the cake at the end of a hot, hard session (METAPHORICAL, you pervs)(the cake is a lie, too).
I’m not sure that I improve by writing fast. I produce, though! Afterward I’m a bit too dazed to really find the good heart of a piece. Herein lies a great critique of NaNoWriMo: that in its heart, each NaNo is a bucket of diarrhea. Whaddya think, dear readers who are writers? When you charge ahead, heedlessly vomiting words, saving any self-analysis for revision, do you learn? Or do you, yes you, right there in the corner, excise and revise?
There is a comment section–use it! The ghost of Brian Jacques is watching.
I am going dark for a bit on social media.
“No!” you gasp, gasping for more gasps, “why, the horror?”
Because the world doesn’t deserve any more sentences as bad as that one. Among other things. I’ve got a project I’d really like to finish. I needta update my Clarion West Write-A-Thon goals to reflect completion of this project, a space opera, rather than the historical novel I was working on, which I’m setting aside to percolate for a bit.
So I’m taking a week off, and hoping just to write through the week.
Wish me luck, and chocolate.
I am having a moment.
I have pro’d out, as they say, from Writers of the Future. My fourth pro-rate short story is coming out soon (stay tuned!).
TL:DR for the link: it’s a quarterly contest, with respectable pay, for new science fiction writers who have not published more than three stories at “pro” rates (5 cents a word or higher). Multiple Honorable Mentions and Semi-Finalists per quarter, ten Finalists, three winners.
I always thought I’d place or win the contest. I got two Honorable Mentions back about 2005 or 2006.
I was a finalist twice in 2007. Two times in a row. I came close and lost twice over six months. That is a very special pain. I often wonder where I would be as a writer if I had won. (Don’t get me started on how I was shortlisted for Octavia Butler’s last year at Clarion.)
After 2007, I went for a few years submitting ever single quarter, and got nothing. My stories, which had once been loved there, even embraced, were just flung right off.
I got discouraged and angry at them. I’d never gotten any guidance (like they gave other finalists) and besides, a couple of exposés had been published on the high-level Scientologists running the place and their links to cases of institutional abuse. I’m willing to give Scientologists the benefit of the doubt as individuals, but I’m not crazy about organized religion.
After hearing from Anaea about the experience of winning, I’m both relieved and sad. Relieved because it sounds like things are a bit weird. Sad because… I really thought I would win one day!
My wife used to point at a particular dress in a shop window and say “I’ll get that when you win Writers of the Future.”
We used to say “we’ll travel when I win the grand prize in Writers of the Future.”
I am having a moment.
EDIT: So, I’m still not pro’d out, with no word on when the new Beneath Ceaseless Skies comes out, and just for kicks, I entered the contest. (Okay, not just for kicks. I really need to earn something off these short stories that have piled up over the years.) I doubt anything will come of it, with my history of heartbreak, but hey… I would love for this post to be proven wrong.
So, I’m a writer, yes, (with a story forthcoming in F&SF!) and I’ve finally achieved some measure of “success,” as we gauge such things. I publish short stories. Some of them are reprinted or podcast. I hang out with a lot of people in this field and enjoy their company and their respect.
I’m not a fan of self-publishing or nontraditional approaches. It works for some people, but I want my work to be a part of the professional sf field as much as I want an audience.
At least I did until this weekend.
Vox Day, the neo-Nazi who was removed from SFWA for hate speech, has been nominated for a Hugo. This is due, at least in part, to conservative blogger and writer Larry Correia’s recommendation.
Correia’s confrontational and dismissive of his opponents. I don’t like his politics or his tone. But he’s absolutely right that there’s no “ballot stuffing” in the Hugos. People widely campaign to win these popularity contests. I thought Lev Grossman was a poor choice for the Campbell in 2011, when a writer as original and refreshing as Saladin Ahmed was on the bill. For that matter, Correia was too. But Grossman, who made the transfer to sf from a long career in mainstream fiction, just plain had more friends. That’s how the award works.
So Larry has a platform. He promotes work that he thinks needs exposure in the Hugos, and wants a greater voice for conservatives in the mostly-liberal organization. Some of his recommendations are right-on. Toni Weisskopf at Baen is overdue for a nomination as long-form editor, whether you like Baen’s quirks or hate them. Don’t mistake this, though, as simply a promotion of work based entirely on quality. Larry is promoting a slate of work that reflects conservative and conservative-friendly work.
He can do what he wants. But he sure isn’t doing his field, his people, or his allies any favors. When Larry recommended Vox Day, he included the works of a known eugenicist, spreader of hate speech and misogynist. I’m not going to repeat Day’s disgusting words–Bleeding Cool repeats plenty of them above.
And the simple face is that if Larry had respect for his community, he would have drawn the line at including Day. He would promote genuine dialogue between liberals and conservatives, not liberals and neo-Nazis.
Instead, it’s probably more important to him that he irk John Scalzi, who drummed Day out of SFWA for his hate speech, and is well-known as a liberal. And this under the pretension that this is about “quality of story.”
Let’s wake up. It’s 2014. Realpolitik, people. No one votes by quality of work in a vacuum. We’ve all read our friends’ stories first. I’d like to see more Native American writers represented in sf, by hell, because I work on a reservation, and I think Native voices are an important part of the most imaginative of fiction genres. It would be stupid for me to pretend otherwise. I will read everything I can and vote for the best work, but no human being is without bias entirely.
We are a community. We need to think about who we are giving a platform to by supporting their work. What happens when a scumbag like Day is given a platform, and given support by, a majority of people in this community?
This community is built on the beauty of the imagination. Everyone has a right to imagine the future, to imagine faraway lands, and everyone can access the beauty of the imagination. Day’s platform and Correia and his fans’ support for Day says that certain imaginations are not welcome.
(Triggers coming up)
Day is recycling and prettifying every abusive man’s “stupid cunt” and “fucking bitch” toward women. And many women who look at the sf field will see it as just another domain of abusive men and those who support them. They will take their voices and their imagination elsewhere
Day is recycling and prettifying every racist’s “dumb Indian” and “black thug.” And many Native Americans and African-Americans who look at the sf field will see it as just another organization that gives racism a voice. They will take their voices and their imagination elsewhere.
Correia doesn’t seem to get that just because he can recommend Day and he can rub John Scalzi’s face in it, he has a responsibility to his community not to. He hasn’t stopped to think that maybe, if more conservative voices need exposure, he shouldn’t alienate minority and women’s voices in the process. Because he’s characterized his opponents as whiny liberal wusses, he’s not going to bother to engage, he’s just going to provoke the blanket opposition.
Just because you have civil rights, doesn’t mean you negate your civil responsibilities.
This is new!
I still maintain the blog at spencerellsworth.blogspot.com but will be moving stuff over here gradually.