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Four for four!

“The Moon and the Son”

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1,495 /

Even shorter than I thought it might be, which is both good (it means I was able to finish it today, despite stalling out Thursday and doing nothing Friday) and bad (it’s really more the skeleton of the story than the story itself). But hey, it’s done, and first drafts are allowed to suck. I think I wanted to be writing something else, but nothing suggested itself, and I wasn’t about to start something new with only a day to complete it.

So. Four short stories in four weeks; good for me. “The Deaths of Christopher Marlowe,” “Waiting for Beauty,” “Degrees of Heresy,” and “The Moon and the Son.” (Hmmm — maybe “A Heretic by Degrees,” instead. Still not settled on a title for that one.) I realized, looking back at my records, that I needed this challenge more than I thought; in the fourteen months or so prior to starting it, I’d written a whopping three stories. (Marketable things; I’m not counting two very brief bits written for games.) Sure, there was a novel in there, but what about the months that weren’t spent on the novel? What about the days when I could write both at once? Three stories is beyond pathetic.

I don’t feel up to Jay Lake’s standard of a short story every week, without fail, but then again, the man also wrote a novel at a speed that makes even The Vengeance of Trees, my seven-week novel, look lazy. On the other hand, I can do better than three stories a year. I think I might try keeping to a standard of one a month. I can manage that, right? I think that if I just sit down with Peter Pan for a while, I can write “The Last Wendy,” and then I really want to come up with a Changing Sea short story for Clash of Steel‘s pirate issue. (Certain individuals I know might want to take note of that, too.) We’ll see if I can manage it, but really, I ought to be able to.

Now, however, I shall take a break, and try not to start mentally revising something already.

gender kerfuffle

“Kerfuffle” is such a great word.

I’ve said before that my usual mode of feminism is to wander blithely about doing whatever it is I feel like doing, happily oblivious to factors that are supposed to be oppressing me into not doing said thing. I won’t claim it’s the best mode in the world, but it works for me.

So apparently one of the things I’ve been oblivious to is a perception that F&SF (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, for those not eyeball-deep in the field’s jargon) is unfriendly to women writers and/or readers. As in, they publish substantially more men than women (a verifiable statistical fact), and perhaps publish fiction of a more “masculine” type (an evaluation that’s being vigorously debated in many places). This all came to my attention through a pair of posts by Charlie Finlay.

The chain goes thusly: Fewer women send stories to F&SF than men. Fewer women are published in F&SF than men. (Side tangent on the chain: this may mean fewer women read F&SF than men.) This creates a perception that F&SF is not friendly to women. Therefore, fewer women send stories to F&SF than men.

Watch it go round and round.

Charlie’s suggestion to fix this is to schedule a day (August 18th) for a hundred women to send stories to F&SF. I haven’t waded through the morass of responses to his suggestion, but I did make a comment I decided I wanted to elaborate here, namely, that I have no particular interest in participating. Why? Because I send to F&SF all the time anyway. I have no fewer than thirty-four rejection half-sheets from them (some from JJA, some from GVG), and I’m expecting my thirty-fifth any day now. Some women may have given up on subbing there due to a perception that they aren’t welcome, but I’m not one of them. I could send in a story that day, but I don’t really see that it would constitute much of a message.

I’d be more interested if the campaign was to get a hundred women who have given up on sending stories there, or who never tried at all, to send something in. Reportedly both John and Gordon have said they would like to publish more women, but they don’t get enough subs from them. Provided they’re telling the truth (and I’m happy to grant them the benefit of that doubt), then we don’t need to be sending a message to F&SF. We need to be sending a message to the women who are avoiding it. (And, perhaps, F&SF needs to send out a message of its own — but that isn’t in my control.) Bombarding F&SF, not with women as a blanket category, but with voices they haven’t been hearing, strikes me as a more meaningful response to the situation.

One way or another, once “Selection” comes home, I’ll be polishing something up and adding to their slush pile once again. If I’ve felt unwelcome there (i.e. those thirty-four rejections), I’ve attributed it to my lack of writing skill, not my gender.

last story

Not a good idea to put off starting my fourth story until Thursday. It’s going to be a stretch, getting this one done in time.

And what is the story, you may ask? Is it “Kingspeaker,” as I said it might be? Or “The Unquiet Grave”? Or even, perhaps, “The Last Wendy,” which made a raid on my attention recently?

“The Moon and the Son”

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Of course not. That would make far too much sense.

Another low estimate for length; who knows if it’ll be at all accurate. I hope so, what with the late start and all. Not to mention that I’m going to have “Hijo de la Luna” on repeat the whole time; for the sake of me having any liking for that song by the time I’m done, I hope this doesn’t take long.

And then maybe I’ll write “The Last Wendy.” Not on a one-week deadline, mind you, especially as I have to read Peter Pan and let it compost first, but soon after. And maybe “Kingspeaker.” And “The Unquiet Grave.” Just because they got mugged by a baby-stealing celestial object doesn’t mean they don’t deserve some love, too.

Patrick O’Brian in Mid-Air

I’m sure three-quarters of the people reading this journal have already caught at least some of the hoopla over these books, but I finally got around to reading Naomi Novik’s elegant alternate Napoleonic novel His Majesty’s Dragon. Short form: think Patrick O’Brian, but on dragon-back. My recommendation for it (and its subsequent series) is up on my site.

Made it!

“Degrees of Heresy”

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“Everything comes to an end someday. That’s what this place is for. But it doesn’t make the end hurt any less.”

Speaking of ends, the last couple of lines sort of fall flat, but hey — this is a first draft. I can always fix that later.

Three short stories in three weeks, and I finished this one well in advance of the wedding I’m going to tonight. Yay me! Now I just need to figure out what I’m doing for the fourth and final week. “Kingspeaker”? “The Unquiet Grave”? Nothing involving research, and bonus points if it isn’t over 6K like this one was. We’ll see what comes to mind.

back to Driftwood

“Degrees of Heresy”

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Wrote about 400 more yesterday after the sale, then another 900 so far today. I’ve had to revise my length estimate back upward to my old default of 6K; I fear it may prove even longer than that. Things still have to go horribly wrong for Qoress, and then he has to make his decision. The title got changed, too; I realized that it isn’t really a question of heresy. It’s a lot of such questions. And Qoress is going to have to decide what degrees of heresy he’s willing to accept.

when pushiness pays off

Look, a post that has nothing to do with the Driftwood story!

I don’t know how I missed it when the notice went out, but Farah Mendlesohn is editing an anthology in response to a proposed British bill that would make illegal “the glorification of terrorism.” This sparks, of course, concerns about free speech, and how the government might use it to clamp down on political dissent (whether in artistic expression, history books, etc). So Farah’s anthology is called Glorifying Terrorism, and it’s chock-full of stories that challenge the restrictions of that proposed law.

Including mine.

As I said, I missed the initial call for stories, but I e-mailed Farah to ask if she was still considering submissions, and she said she might, if any of the ones she was waiting on edits from fell through. Long story short, she’s bought “Execution Morning.” The Kitsune is likely one of the only people reading this who’s familiar with it; it has the signal honor of being the first short story I wrote that didn’t profoundly suck. I’ve tinkered with it off and on in the years since, but as it’s a story about unpleasant and dubiously moral decisions in the face of terrorism, it’s met with extremely mixed reactions, ranging from the Kitsune’s awed silence when she first read it down to people telling me it’s a complete and utter failure as a story. (So that lack of profund suckage is, I guess, in the eye of the beholder.)

As per a recent discussion on Jim Hines’ journal, I’m not usually good at putting myself in an editor’s path like this; if Glorifying Terrorism hadn’t originally been an open-call anthology, I might not have tried. But hey, pushiness pays off: another sale for me, and that story finally has a home where it belongs.

And kudos to Farah for this move. She’s fronting the money for the antho herself, paying well more than a token fee for the stories, and publishing it through a political press. When I’m constantly seeing listings for anthos promising their authors “a share of the royalties” (which will translate to nothing), this makes a really stunning contrast.

two days left

“A Question of Heresy”

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I may have to revise my length estimate upwards, as Last is only now planning Qoress’ trip for him. Serves me right for dropping my usual estimate from 6K to 5K.

If I ever get to publish a collection or chapbook of Driftwood stories, I’m going to have to revise them. It’s an unfortunate truth of the place that I can’t write a story in Driftwood without explaining Driftwood; even once I start selling these pieces, I won’t be able to assume that my readers are familiar with the ones already published. But in a collection, I’d have to snip out all the repeated information; otherwise it would get tedious.

Time to go pick up the laundry; then I write more. Ah, the scintillating life of a writer.