Saturday, January 3, 2015

Even More Reflections (and Some Shit)

So 2014 passed into the rainy, rainy night with much noise and annoyance. Despite that, I think I'm in a better mood than last year--aside from living in this craphole known as South Texas. If you ever want to see the height of human incompetency, just come down here. Fortunately, I won't be staying here for much longer.

Made some nice pro-rate sales, won one of On The Premises contest, had a lead story in an anthology, and closed the year out with a sale to Phobos Magazine--a weird little zine that I've had my eye on for quite some time.

No SFWA sale, because once again I don't write what the editors want at the moment. (Rez and I have a theory that editors don't know what they really want, which accounts for why a magazine will publish both amazing and absolutely dreadful stories.) The weep-woe trend is still going strong, or stories that bend over backwards to deliver that contrived emotional punch. Or the worse: stories where the fantastical elements are window dressing for a mundane tale.

I want to give props to for publishing enjoyable fiction. I usually only read stories from markets when I stop by their site to submit, and often come away uninspired (coughstrangehorizonscough). Not the case with Granted, I didn't read every story of theirs, as I'm sure they published some stinkers, but overall there was some really good stuff. Even when I felt so-so about a particular story, I could see the merit in the story, why an editor would pick it. I like how they haven't forgotten that stories are supposed to be entertaining, that characters aren't always victims, that characters have drive and emotion and don't just whine into a puddle of their own tears, that the reader may question the morals or sanity of the character, that things happen within the story. By Beetlejuice! Where have these story elements been???

And is cool enough to publish stories that don't climax with an epiphany or some profound reveal, like "Where the Lost Things Are ", which is just a silly adventure about old people shrinking themselves to find a lost pill. Again, I feel like that's something a lot of publisher have forgotten; I can't recall too many fun stories from other publications.

Now that I look back on it, it was a very odd year for short fiction. Thanks to some delusional old fart on the SFWA forums saying women were ruining science fiction, some editors took the initiative to prove the guy wrong, thus Women Destroy Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror. There's been a few additional Women Only anthologies and podcasts throughout the year as well.

I'm not exactly fond of the Women Destroy X Genre issues; I don't think they're going to change the mind of any fossils who must've been residing under a rock for the past 40 years. If anything, the issues seem gimmicky to me. The potential was squandered on lackluster stories, rather than doing a compilation anthology, taking stories from the great female sci-fi writers in the past, current successes, and future "fresh" voices. Now that would be awesome. Chronicling what women have done for the genre and will continue to do, with no signs of stopping. Of course undertaking such a project would eat a lot of time and money, but seeing as quite a few people got behind the idea of Women Destroy X Genre, I think it's entirely possible.

I do fear, in editors' attempt to make things "right" in the world, editors will go out of their way to publish more stories from women. That's not how it should work. The duty of any editor is to buy the best possible stories out there for publication. Keyword: stories. It's not about whether the author is male or female, black or blue, has green hair or pointy teeth, because those things are irrelevant to the story itself, and stories should sell themselves. You don't want editors getting into the habit of judging a story based on the author (ignoring that they already do this if you're a Big Name), instead of the story's own merit. Also, it doesn't help self-esteem if a woman realizes the only reason her story sold was because of her sex.          

In the end, we'll just have to see. As for me, I'll keep chugging away, and hopefully continue to sell stories, though I'm thinking it might be time to go back to longer works of fiction. Short fiction is great and all, but it has never been a popular form of fiction, and as the word counts get shorter, you start feeling that crunch. I've seen authors gouge out their short stories to fit the the word limit, and it ain't pretty. Or who knows, maybe I'll land an awesome job writing for video games. One can wish.