Momentum

I’ve just completed the handful of edits asked for by the editor at Electric Velocipede to my short story Momentum. It was nice reading it through again, I don’t think I have looked at it for over a year. The magazine is scheduled to launch at the World Fantasy Convention, 1st – 4th November ’07.

Issue 9 of Transmission magazine with my short story ‘Chaser’ should be out on 28th September. I’m yet to see the illustration accompanying the story but am really looking forward to it.

LeGuin vs. Winterson

Ursula K LeGuin has reviewed the new novel from Jeanette Winterson ‘The Stone Gods’, a novel which as previously recounted here on The Fiction Front is according to its author absolutely not science fiction, despite containing space ships and aliens. LeGuin identifies Wintersons folly exactly when she says:

‘I am bothered, though, by the curious ingratitude of authors who exploit a common fund of imagery while pretending to have nothing to do with the fellow-authors who created it and left it open to all who want to use it.’

The barbarous part of my psyche was hoping to see LeGuin tear Winterson apart, like a champion battling to defend the honor of the tribe, but LeGuin actually delivers an excellent and well balanced review that even Winterson must be greatful for. If had come down to fisticuffs however my money would be LeGuin every time.

One Year On

As if turning thirty didn’t generate enough excitement in my life, this very blog celebrates its one year anniversary this week.  In that year I’ve made a little over 150 posts, and accrued somewhere in the region of 7000 views. Not bad.

So one year on, do I think its a good idea for fiction writers to keep a blog? Categorically yes. Just the act of keeping the blog provides a continual focus on the writing, and pulls me back to it regardless of what else is going on in my life. Recording the ups and downs of my writing projects has helped me spot where I’ve been repeating the same mistakes. And collecting the various ideas for projects as they emerge has helped me narrow down what it is I really want to write.

Could I have done that as a private journal? Maybe. Would I have? Probably not. I think if I had I would now be looking at an abandoned notebook with a handful of dismal entries serving no purpose. And I can guarantee it would never have been as much fun as keeping this blog is, and hopefully will continue to be.

Serendipity

I’ve just found a new online zine called Serendipity, which introduces itself as a magazine of fantasy and magical realism. Its really very good, and includes stories from Rhys Hughes, Jeffrey Ford and Catherine M Valente among others, and an interview with David Mitchel. It’s really nicely presented as well, so I definitely recommend taking a look if you have a few moments spare.

Serendipity – http://www.magicalrealism.co.uk

I Have Discovered Mythopoeia!

Although I’m not entirely sure I know how to pronounce it. I’ll have to find out before I start flashing it around in public.

Mythopoeia! 

I was shocked to discover an indigenous population inhabiting my newly discovered conceptual landscape. I thought it was all mine, but apparently a whole host of amazing writers, including many of most favourite, had made it there before me. Upon consideration I decided this was a good thing, the sign of the promised land is that all the people you like are there.

I think mythopoeia is the ideal I am struggling to achieve in writing. Almost everything I have ever written has been in someway related to myth, either born from, commentary on or trying to become. ‘Mythopoeic thought’, the pre-rational dreamtime that the ancient myths sprang from, is much what I think a reader experiences when they ‘escape’ into a really great book.

I’m gathering material under the title ‘Urban Mythos’ at the moment, a kind of alternative ‘Just So’ stories for the urban world. I’ve lived in urban environments of one kind or another for my entire life, and the longer I do so the more I realise they just don’t have any sense. I’m fascinated by the ways people mytholigise urban environments to try and make sense of their chaos, from cyberpunk writers like Bill Gibson, to urban sports like skateboarding and parcor that literaly transform the physical environment. I think theres a story in this stuff somewhere, if I can just dig it out.

FantasyCon

Its that time of year again – yes, FantasyCon 2007 is on 21st – 23rd September and once again the organisers have conveniently placed the whole event right next door to me in Nottingham. I won’t be there on the Friday as its my birthday but I will be going on Saturday and Sunday. Day rates are £25 so if you can afford it and want to come along let me know and we’ll form a boarding party and storm the con!

Clarion

I’m thinking about trying out for the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Workshop. It really would be trying out because Clarion is the most distinguished writing workshop in the world, they get thousands of applications every year and only take on a handful of students. I don’t think I have two short stories yet that would get me on the course, but I have two on the go that might and have until March to get them done, alongside continuing work on the book.

Thinking about Clarion makes me realise how stupidly attached to science fiction and fantasy I am. I’m making an effort to read more outside the genre this year, although the copy of Ray Bradbury’s ‘Something Wicked this Way Comes’ propped open next to my computer even as I type suggests I’m not doing so well (It’s a work of genius though so maybe thats OK). Its really difficult because there is so much great genre fiction I haven’t read yet. I still really need to get into Harlan Ellison. I’ve barely scraped the surface of Gene Wolfe. And then there is the Gollancz Future Classics imprint just started up. Thats just the tip of the iceburg. How the hell am I supposed to lever Ian McEwan inbetween that lot?

The thing I’m most hooked on with SFF is the actual craft that goes into making it. Clarion would be a chance to be completely immersed in studying that craft for six weeks with real professional writers (Did I mention Neil Gaiman and Kelly Link are both tutors for ’08. I know from experience I don’t react normally to the reality of Neal Gaiman actually existing in the mortal world. He’s on that list of people who are too famous to be real like David Bowie and Alan Moore. I spent three hours stalking him round Nottingham city centre last year and I’m pretty sure he clocked my face. It would be really embarrassing to get thrown out of Clarion for stalking.)  Its an expensive opportunity though. For the price of that six weeks I could probably write full time for six months. I think the experience and chance to learn would be worth the trade though, so I think I’m going to go for it.

I’ve Already Forgotten What This Post Is About

I’ve been having a bad time with my attention span recently. Already gnat like, it may now need to be reclassified as more on a par with dust mites or amoeba. I haven’t finished reading anything for a month, but have a number of books which I’m switching between.

I’ve been enjoying Regeneration by Pat Barker, although the experience has been colored by alternating chapters with a re-read of Lord of the Rings. Am I returning the one ring to the cracks of doom, or is this a hallucination brought on by shell shock? Despite the host of differences the two books share something very fundamental in common, and its made me realize that WWI is an intrinsic part of Middle Earth, even if Tolkien denied it. Barker’s novel has some excellent technique I’m intent on stealing.

Started and occasionally returned to is Daughter of Hounds by Caitlin R Kiernan. I’m finding it a difficult read, either because its filmic structure produces a prose style that is difficult to penetrate, or because I’m reading it half a page at a time whilst watching TV and designing a website. I’m terrible at multi-tasking but I do it anyway.

I have my eye on both Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman and of course Spook Country by William Gibson. I read the first chapter of Mr Grossman’s superhero escapade in Borders but I’m on a book purchasing embargo until I finish something. Spook Country I’m nervous about reading because my expectations are so high. I’ve heard good things however.

I feel my attention wandering already so this blog post will have to end now.