Support me (or another fine SF author) in the Clarion Write-A-Thon!
When I started writing I was bad at short stories: I couldn’t write them.
Meaning, I couldn’t write anything shorter than a novelette (a piece than unfolds over the length of 2-3 short stories). I had written the occasional short work, I had even gotten one or two things published, but for most of the history of science fiction a career worked like this: get known for short fiction then publish a novel. I felt there was something missing if I couldn’t write short stories and my late friend and fellow writer Gil Pettigrew recommended writing (and sending out) a lot of short pieces. There was a greater chance of success, he said, and it was a quicker and less bruising process than sending a novel out to agents.
I decided to get over being bad at short stories. I had two sources of inspiration: my pottery professor in college and Ray Bradbury. Ray Bradbury, author of The Martian Chronicles, recommended writing and sending out a short story a week. (This is all the more impressive when you realize in those days each draft of a story had to be completely re-typed on a typewriter.) So I took his advice: I’d write a short story each week, revise it, and send it out to a magazine before 7 days had passed.
I quickly realized my unconscious had added a twist to this challenge – I found myself writing science fiction stories from the same narrator (Resada Gestae), a human trafficking survivor looking for her stolen children among the planets of the Milky Way galaxy. Each story took place 2-6 months after the previous story and I quickly realized the point was not simply to write a story each week but to follow how the narrator grew from rage and resentment to integration and empathy. Part way through the process her security team, her police escort, took over the week-to-week stories then handed the narrative back to her.
After several years (and the interruption of three smaller interlinked short story series set in the same universe) I am ready to finish this 74 Story Project. Resada Gestae will visit her last half-dozen destinations and return home to her husband and rest of her story (the novel I was trying to write when her security team interrupted me. I have often wondered if I would ever finish the 74 stories: there have been interruptions (serious and not so serious), I feared I would lose inspiration or interest, and the series has not found its stride with magazine editors.* (Half of my rejections slips for each of the stories read “this is too much background!” and the other half say “why isn’t there more background?”)
So, I will finish the 74 Stories Project this Summer with the help of the Clarion Write-A-Thon. I have promised to finish the final stories of this interlinked 74-story series in order to support Clarion and I need backers (pledges per story). If this project doesn’t interest you there are other authors who will.
Wish me luck as I finish this multi-year project (now the equivalent of 3 novels in length) and support a Write-A-Thon author to benefit Clarion!
* With the notable exception of the editor at Black Denim Lit.