2018 Summation: Round and Round I Go

With one notable exception, this last year felt like more of the same. I take that to mean it’s time to think even more about the future than I usually would at this time of year.

As has been the norm for the last several years I received quite a lot of acceptances for my short stories, albeit mostly for reprints. Needless to say, every acceptance is very welcome. The highlight for me was receiving one from the editors of the A Punk Rock Future anthology for a flash-length story. I wasn’t a punk back in the day (late 1970s!) but I grew up during that era and listened to a lot of the music, so that acceptance meant a lot to me.  I even bought my first electric guitar on the strength of it. I also received an acceptance from an invitation-only anthology for another music-themed story–my first ever invitation for an original piece of fiction, in fact!–but the anthology has not been officially announced yet, so I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed that it goes ahead. Another acceptance came from a promising-looking new online publication called Electric Athenaeum, but I was disappointed by how few readers there seemed to be for what I felt was a timely story about humanity’s response to Global Warming, the onset of the Singularity and the lure of space exploration. Sadly, ‘Good to Go’ sank almost without a trace, although it is still online at the time of writing. My other acceptance for a new story came from Speculative 66, which published my nano-fic story ‘The Working Week’. On the reprint front, ‘Slices of Life’ appeared in New Orbit Magazine, ‘Family Tree’ in She Blended Me With Science and Issues of Tomorrow (both anthologies), ‘Someone Else’s Problem’ in Odd Tales of Wonder magazine, and ‘One Is One’ at Kasma SF. I gave a reading of my unsold story ‘Dreamtime’ at one of Virtual Futures’ Near-Future Fictions events and the Flash Fiction Podcast recorded a version of the second of my ‘Reeves’ stories, ‘Warbling Their Way to War’.

During 2018, I sought to find a home for my ‘Survival Strategies’ novel. No luck so far, but Book 2 is now under way. I think it might easier to sell them as a completed series. At least I hope so!

Easily my most enjoyable writing-related activity was contributing to Virtual Futures Near-Future Fictions events. I co-curated their Post-Brain themed evening in May with the inestimable Stephen Oram. This was great fun. I enjoyed selecting the stories and working with authors to polish them, also compering part of the event.  The readings were well-received, even mine! I enjoyed the experience so much that I volunteered to do it again this coming March, when the theme will be Autonomous Agents.

I also continued to read submissions for Albedo One magazine. Again, it’s an activity I find enjoyable in its own right, but also worthwhile in that it helps highlight my own writing’s strengths and weaknesses.

I’ve been writing (mainly) science fiction for a little over twenty years now. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy fairly regular publication of my work since 2002. What struck me though, as I reviewed this year’s successes, is that my earliest published stories often appeared in more prominent publications than those that have been accepted more recently. This is a disappointing trend to say the least. I do not seem to have moved forward at all, at least in terms of visibility in the science-fiction field, although I hope I’m a better writer than in 2002. In truth, the market has gotten tougher because there are more good authors submitting fiction than ever before, some of them drawing on a much more diverse range of backgrounds and experiences. I am firmly convinced that more diversity is a good thing. But my inability to step up to another level does make me wonder whether, going forward, I should continue in the same vein as I have up to now. So in 2019 I will take some time to consider my goals and how I approach them. I have a lot on my plate next year that has nothing to do with writing, so I intend to take a sabbatical from April to September (at least), which will hopefully result in the rebooting of my muse and either a new or reinvigorated direction for my work. In the meantime I will continue to market my portfolio of completed stories.

Wishing a very happy New Year to you all!