Publishing Journey, Writing

My publishing journey: How I published a short story collection

Spirits Abroad

I have been meaning to write a post about this ever since I spoke with an author friend about how I got my short story collection Spirits Abroad published and realised how opaque the process is. This is an author who is way more established than me and has published a bazillion short stories, and yet I don’t think it had occurred to them to do what I’d done.

Mind you, this is because they operate in the US/UK market and I was focused on another market altogether. After I broke through the Block, I wrote about 20 short stories, felt I’d got a bit of a handle on how to do them, and decided I wanted to shift my focus. What I really like in stories is character, and short stories don’t give you a whole lot of space to explore your characters. I wanted to write novels: it was the one thing I felt I couldn’t do, and it was the one thing I felt I had to do in order to be a Real Writer.

I know this is a complete lie and directly contradicts #1 of my mission statement. (The thing that really drove in the fact that it is a lie for me, by the way, was reading a Dorothy Parker biography and finding out that she felt the same about novel-writing — that she had to do it, or she wouldn’t count as a writer. But the novel just didn’t seem to be her form. Like so many others, I’ve rejoiced in Parker’s scathing wit and perfect turns of phrase, and she didn’t need a novel to persuade me she was a writer for the ages.)

Unfortunately I have yet to work out how to make my feelings line up 100% with my opinions, and anyway I did want to know how to write novels for the sake of it, leaving aside all status-related insecurities. So I decided I’d try to get rid of my short stories at one go, as a collection, so I wouldn’t be worrying about editing them, submitting them, etc. while focusing on the longer-form stuff. At least I would be getting rejections at much longer intervals!

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Publishing Journey, Writing

My publishing journey: Breaking through writer’s block

Or, how I started writing and publishing short stories.

I’m always a little puzzled to know how to answer when people ask me how I got into writing, because there are a few different answers.

1) I started when I was 6 years old, with a 101 Dalmatians-style story featuring a plucky little girl rescuing rabbits kidnapped for their fur.

2) I started when I was 16, writing fanfic and posting chapters on a Yahoo Group.

3) I started when I was 25, writing short stories and selling them to SFF zines.

But before I was 25 I did not write consistently. I never knew when or if inspiration would strike, and I could never really trust myself to finish a story. I worried about this less as an 8-year-old writing Enid Blyton pastiches; I worried about it more as a teenager promising fanfic to my friends. Because of course I wanted to be published, and I didn’t see how that would happen if I didn’t know how to write regularly.

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