Thursday, October 07, 2010

Ugly thoughts

I don't know if it's because I've never seen myself as a short fiction writer--I mean, I used to have zero interest in short stories--but I never really thought of my short stories as anything but a game. They're play, the kind of fun thing you noodle around on to see how things work, the way a car mechanic builds go-karts. They're not real. They're toys. Practice. And when I sent them out in the world, I just wanted to show them to my friends. Oh sure, I sent them to the big markets, too, because that's just what people do, but mostly I was just happy that editors I liked, editors I knew, were getting to play the word game with me.

I sometimes forget that those short stories are the stuff careers are made of. Those editors I know and like so much at second-tier markets? They're dreaming of stories that will launch their magazines to pro status. And the big guys, the people I sent stories because you're supposed to send things to them--well, they're paying attention. Your name gets around in this little industry.

It's easy to forget in all the supportive kindness of the spec fic community that everyone in it is in business. And it's a serious business. Underneath the smiling faces, the successful writers are sleek word-killing machines. Sharks.

I am not a shark.

I don't know if I can make it in this business. But I do know it'll be a hell of a long time* before I send out another short story.

*Appended: In the hyperactive world of Wendy, this means like, a month. Or maybe 3 weeks.


Christie said...

NO! Not sharks! This is not cut-throat word brokering!

Do what you do, lady, because you love doing it. The reason we get to be in an anthology together is because you did that.

This post makes me so sad.


Don said...

I have the exact opposite view--I identify myself as a short-story writer. My dream, 20 or 30 years from now, my is to have The Complete Short Fiction of... with my name on it.

The most pleasant surprise thus far is finding out that there is a little community of folks who do pay attention. It's increased my motivation tenfold. (If only there was a corresponding increase in productivity...anyway...)

I have no illusions about raking in the dough, though. These days, the money and the wider audience is in novels. I know this. But the truth is, the thought of writing a novel has always scared the living daylights out of me!

Crystal said...

People send stuff out?


Seriously though. (I don't send anything. Coward.)

I second what Christie said.

Miriam S. Forster said...