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Monday, 25 March 2013

2013 Specfic Festival: Angst

It's can be a surprise what gets under your skin. In the last panel I went to at the NSW Writers' Centre Speculative Fiction Festival there were a number of comments that really got me thinking. One in particular that caused me some real angst. I've been sitting on this for over a week now and I just want to get it out. The panel was about writing and selling short stories

First there were some comments by Angela Slatter, maybe Lisa Hannett I'm not totally sure which. These two authors have done a lot of co-writing and on the panel they tended to agree with and re-enforce each others comments a lot. It may be that I mostly remember it being Angela because she has a story in the In Fabular-divino anthology and I had met and talked with her earlier in the day.

Anyway there were three things that Angela (or Lisa) said (not their exact words) that got me thinking.

  1. Aim for the highest pro markets first. I really liked this advice and it made sense. I had been thinking that I needed some success at a lower level first, but once she said it I saw the wisdom.
  2. Put that rejected story straight back out a quickly as possible. One of the ladies said they send the story out again within minutes of a rejection. This advice I'm really uncertain about. Every time, so far, that I've had a story rejected I've looked at the story and found things wrong with it. Not just picky stuff, real mistakes and problems with the story. This made me wonder if I'm sending out haft baked stories, even though I'm having other people read (and not just family, other writers) and going over it many times. Maybe this will change with time and experience.
  3. Have a lot of stories ready to submit. This is the idea of having many coals in the fire. It's seems like a good idea, I'm just not sure if I can do it.
These were all thought provoking comments but the comment that gave me real angst was from another panelist Cat Sparks. Again, I cannot remember her exact words, but she basically made the comment that just because your got some out there (on the net in particular) it doesn't make you a published author. she was making the valid point that it's really easy to get a story published on the web by a friend, or even on your own site. However, that is not the same as having a story accepted by a professional publication (web based or other wise.). She is completely right, but (silly me) I started to doubt the validity of my In Fabula-divino story and put myself through all kinds of stress over of it. 

The truth is that it doesn't really matter if I'm a published writer of just one story or not. What matters is writing the stories the best you can and getting them out there for people to read and enjoy, if they are good enough.

Interestingly, to me, Cat Sparks took a picture of me on the day. I cannot work out how to get picture from flickr, but here is the link, I hope it works. It's likely that she was actually taking a picture of the two authors sitting in front of me, Jason Nahrung and Ben Chandler. Standing next to me is another aspiring writer, who has a very good blog called W.I.P. It, Lynda Young.


  1. Rick, be proud you had a story accepted for publication, worked through with an editor and published officially. Your work was chosen and published. Well done.
    There is merit in writing frequently and subbing frequently, but it takes time to develop an awareness of markets for your work, and time to develop a network of trusted readers to help refine your work (I'm still learning). Aiming for pro markets is great, but I also think you have to work out what you're aiming for: hobby to sell stories occasionally, or career, by selling work as much as possible.
    Then it's deciding whether you want to sell short stories or novels.
    I'm still trying to work it out.
    The main thing is, if you want to write, keep writing, keep subbing, keep improving.
    Looking forward to seeing your writing growth.

  2. Thanks Adam, I did work out that I was stressing for nothing. I think the actual result my angst is a stronger desire to write; short stories and novels. I want writing to be my career.
    'I want it all and I want it now!'

  3. I really wish I'd attended that particular panel. I had meant to but sat in the wrong room. Doh!

    I agree about going through a story after it's been rejected--just for another quick read-through and possible edit.

    1. It was the best panel for me, the one I got the most out of. Even with the angst.