Being Writer

It kind of sucks, but it’s got perks.

Perks of writing: low overhead. Raw materials easy to get hands on (minimum: a pencil and a pad). No fancy gear needed; the only thing stopping you from being Shakespeare is your own mediocrity.

My dream job would be as a writer for genre magazines, and as a generator of Ace paperbacks with lurid surreal covers.

(OK, I think Andre Norton was phoning it in a bit there.)

But those days are gone. You don’t make a living as a “creative” person anymore. It’s the era of writing as a hobby. Your stories will be quickly forgotten in the static of Internet content, your novels will be self-published and will languish in Amazon’s digital cellars.

And writers have it easy. Editors and publishers are even more screwed. It used to be a real job to edit a sci fi magazine.  Now it’s a labor of love and a volunteer job, and they have to do it month-in-month-out.

Yeah, it’s a tough time for the arts, and everybody connected with them. The universe of speculative literary fiction has shrunk, and more stalwarts die off every day. The mojo has moved on to TV, movies, video games. No one cares much about the world of books and magazines.

Still, it’s the world we’ve got, and there are good people in it. If anyone actually reads this blog, I heartily recommend checking out some good online sci fi/horror/fantasy/ slipstream publications. I’ve listed a few below. There are hundreds more. Check them out. Maybe subscribe to a few. Let’s keep this dream going, before we all have to wake up and go back to our day jobs.

Flash Fiction Online: Excellent source of quality sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. And everything’s under 1000 words, which is an amazing trick to pull off. This is one of my two favorite online publications.

Note: I made my first and second sales to FFO, but it wasn’t easy! The first 17 stories I sent them came back. The 18th and 19th were finally successful. It was worth the effort. I learned a lot from their feedback. The staff of FFO have been extremely kind and supportive, and I feel lucky to be among their published writers.

Daily Science Fiction: My other favorite. You get a sci-fi or fantasy story in your email inbox every weekday. And the quality is off the charts; simply stunning much of the time. I’ve sent DSF about fifteen stories, and had them all rejected, but I’m in the second round again, and I’m feeling optimistic…[UPDATE: finally got in (Feb 2016) although the story has maybe too high an ick factor. No one liked it, and I confess to second thoughts. But still. UPDATE UPDATE: sold them a humorous piece in May of 2016 — they have yet to run it.)

Space Squid: I like humorous sci fi. It’s hard to find, and even harder to find humorous sci fi that’s actually funny. Space Squid is the best for that. (Check out “The Bed Person” in the recent issue.)

(And Space Squid have published Matt, another mark in their favor.)

Other good ones: Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Asimov’s, Andromeda Spaceways, Fantasy & Science Fiction.Sci Phi Journal. There are hundreds more. If you’re part of the community of writers, do yourself and everyone a big favor, and make sure to be part of the community of readers as well. It’s good for your writing, it’s good for the brain, it’s good for everyone, and you’re just fucking around at work anyway, so why not waste time in a good way?