Back from the brink

That might be a little bit melodramatic. Ah well.

Yes, it is true, I am back once more on the blog. The reason for my return (other than avague sense of guilt and professional inadequacy) is that I am currently recovering from a week of illness. Nothing serious, you understand, just a rather heavy-handed bout of man-flu, but it knocked me out good and proper.

I’ve decided to use this as a bit of a motivational springboard; the last month or so was not a particularly fun one. Mainly it was work, but the rage/exhaustion from the day job bled into the other areas of my life to create an apathetic grumpus of a man. That, it has been decreed, shall change.

The list of things I want to collectively kick the asses of is long and varied, but given that this is ostensibly about writing (you would be forgiven for thinking it was some kind of postmodern art installation, possibly examining the nature of silence and absence) I shall talk at you about that.

“A good writer is a great reader,” it is often said, and I certainly believe this to be true. And I, true to form, have been a very bad reader of late. Aside from the novels I picked up at March’s Black Library Live! (leave my blog now, go to Amazon/your local bookshop’s website, and order Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s Void Stalker. Do it now) for which I was very, very excited, I haven’t read much of anything in quite some time. I ate up the BLis15 stories that Black Library put out for its fifteenth birthday, and I have picked through the occassional short story, but in the eternal equation of time allocation reading has consistently lost out.

But no more! No, I have decided to set myself a reading challenge. Nothing big, you understand, I don’t want to set myself up to fail. I’ve decided to read one short story a week, and then to blog about said story in the same week.

The reason for selecting short stories to read are threefold:

The first is obvious – they are shorter than novels, thus require less time to read. See, I told you it was obvious.

The second is availablility. I have a great many books, and I’m adding to them all the time. I have a fair number of short story anthologies, mostly Black Library ones, but a few non-denominational (I recently picked up Ann and Jeff Vandemeer’s Weird tome for a fiver at a second-hand stall that comes to my campus every few weeks. Beautiful condition, a bargin it was). I haven’t made much of a dent in these, gravitating towards novels as I do. This really ought to change.

The third is relevance. After examining my writerly goals, I’ve decided to accept that the wisest course of action for me to pursue is to get writing short stories. The dream of being offered a three-book deal by BL or Angry Robot is still there, a hot ember of ambition lodged firmly in my front-brain, but its not likely to happen (and, if I am honest, I would struggle to up my output to meet the demands such an offer would entail at present).

The short story market is much broader, and frankly easier to get into (to whit – I’m published, baby! I’ll talk about that soon!). Just a quick search of Duotrope.com (a fantastic resource, even if its largely US-centric) reveals a huge number of anthologies and magazines looking for stories pitched at the steampunk genre (and that’s being quite restrictive with the parameters).

My immediate career goal, now that that first step has been mounted, is to build up a portfolio of publishing credits, and to do that I need to up my output and start getting words on a page and stories in places where people can read them. I’m not overly fussed by monetary recompense at this stage – I’m strictly writing for the amateur market, which I do not knock at all. I want a body of stories written up and ready to let fly when suitable anthologies/magazines come along, and I want to have the skill and discipline to write stories for markets at they open up (which I’m in the process of doing at the moment, as it happens). In short, I want to be a writer.

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So, that is the plan, and the rationale. I’m not going start working through a particular anthology; instead, I’ve made a stack of all my anthologies at home, and once I week I shall leaf through one at random – hopefully this should keep things fresh and interesting. If you, the internet, have any recommendations of great anthologies/magazine/one-shots, please let me know, I’m looking forward to broadening my horizons.

I will be sticking to this one, so hopefully the blog will be seeing a bit more activity in the next weeks and months (that was another of my “I’m not ill now, time to get my life in gear” goals). See y’all on the slopes of Mount Internet o/