This autumn I have a new story out in Of Gods and Globes 2: “The Touch of Lethe.” It’s an odd piece I wrote after attending Necronomicon in Providence a few years ago, somewhere between SF and weird fiction. It’s about the closest I’ll probably ever come to a Twilight Zone story, but it seemed to fit the bill for Lancelot Schaubert’s cosmic anthology. Check it out!
The specter of looming death brings clarity to some things, confusion to others. I hope that you, reading this, are living with only the normal amounts of terror and insecurity, and that you have food, shelter, and access to medicine. Getting accurate, current information about much of anything is difficult right now, and clearly the rest of 2020 belongs to COVID-19.
The fatalities of this year are yet to be known, but I’m determined not to let my writing be among them, in so far as I can. Unlike many out there, including friends, I have a full time job — a double-edged sword for a writer, but one for which I’m so grateful at the moment. That I work in a library is an unmitigated pleasure and always has been, though our facilities are closed to the public at the moment to reduce virus transmission, and most of us are working from home.
In any event, so far this year I have two short stories set for publication. “The Touch of Lethe” is to be in an anthology that’s fairly soon to launch, and “The Haunted Object” is going to be in a magazine of various formats. I’m delighted about each in various ways, about which I’ll have more to say in due course.
This year has already seen the reprint of “The Doubtful Wonderland,” my story that originally appeared years ago in a now-defunct magazine of macabre neo-Victorian art and literature, The Willows. Editor Ben Thomas and his team got together to reprint the full run of the magazine via Kickstarter. If you’re interested in tales of the eerie and the occult, you can get electronic or print (hardcover or paperback) copies from https://willowsmagazine.com/.
If you’re stuck in quarantine and looking for something to read, you can, of course, read some of my fiction online. Also, though, let me point you at a thread I started on Twitter in March. I wrote it with my librarian hat on, and it’s all about what you can get from your library without leaving your house. The tweet did pretty well for a small-timer like me, mostly due to a kindly RT from Neil Gaiman, and it seemed to strike a chord with many people. Good luck, friends, and I hope you have or find something to read to keep you on an even keel in the weeks and months to come. Stay healthy.
Happy October, monsters!
Has there been a more common post since the long, strange years of blogging’s heyday than “it’s been a long time since my last post?” Certainly not on this blog, dear readers. What are the haps, you ask? In quasi-brief…
My short story “Questionable Things” appeared in Synth #2 (as alluded to previously). It’s a SF story intimately tied to Blade Runner that I wrote some years ago. I shopped it around for quite some time, but it was a “bridesmaid” story, terminally getting “I loved it, but” rejections. I trunked it after playing Shadowrun Returns, on account of that game also involving SF, Seattle, and a serial killer (no spoilers, I hope, as all that’s clear from the first paragraph of my story). Ultimately, I decided I liked it too much to let it go, polished it up, and C.M. Muller accepted it for his year-long project of publishing dark SF. (Vol. V of his excellent Nightscript series is available now.)
The novel I was working on last year collapsed under its own weight. I’d tried three different versions of it, two with substantially different plot points and an epistolary version of one of those, but no dice. I got a short story out of it that I’m shopping around, but other than that, I’ve trunked it and moved on.
Other things outside of The Writing rose up and took over frequently this year. I’d like to say that I powered through and wrote every day during that time, but it ain’t so. Many’s the writer who talks about setting up your life around writing, and sticking to your guns despite all manner of personal difficulty, but I haven’t managed it. I am, however, working on a novel, a couple essays, etc., and I’m reading any number of good things — most recently Peter Clines’ The Fold. It’s old-school SF with enough contemporary goodness to feel fresh, and a few elements that I think might appeal to readers of this particular blog, heh-heh-heh…
Writing advice is not unlike clothing: almost none of it fits universally. One common piece of advice I have followed this year, however, is reading like my life depends on it. 36 books, 31 graphic novels, and various essays, stories, etc. (Also, a side order of 36 movies). What’s it all about?
Common wisdom is that you have to read a lot to be able to write well. I’m not sure if that’s true, and I’ve seen some decent arguments to the contrary, but the flow of words through my brain seems to have gotten the writing juices flowing more smoothly. It’s not enough for me to have read X many books in past, apparently; cultural or professional literacy is not the same thing as a regular diet.
It’s also about, not to put too fine a point on it, fun. The last several years have, regrettably, included very high quantities of not-fun, sustained at times for months at a go. My focus was divided in a few different directions, and I definitely wasn’t focusing on doing exactly what I wanted in terms of reading. Often I was trying to read things for purposes other than pleasure, and maybe it showed in my less-than-eager reading habits. I am, in any case, reading more novels than I have for a long time, and the sense of ebb and flow, of slow build, are things I have missed during the years when I focused more on short stories.
My “jar of fucks,” it also has to be said, has run low. I’ve started reserving my attention for the things I care about, and the things I both can and want to do. An inevitable (and largely, if not wholly, pleasurable) consequence of this is less social media. As other have noted, when I’m not online as much, suddenly I have significantly larger quantities of free time to do with as I will.
To take that a step further, when I now do dip into Facebook or Twitter or whatever, I notice:
- Time runs away like water. I look at the screen, and 45 minutes later I’m not sure what happened. Which I’m now OK with, because I plan for it, not just… let hours go by, scrolling.
- The negative thoughts and feelings I notice in myself after more than a few minutes on social media are real, observable, and have effects on the rest of my day. Knowing this? I’m less likely to log in.
- I love seeing vacation pictures, hearing about friends’ successes, and laughing at funny memes… but they seem to be nearly inseparable from Id, trolling, and flag-waving.
- I am much more prone to check in on a handful of people, not necessarily the same from week to week, and then move on. The news feed, or stream, or what-have-you, is as apt to surface trash as treasure.
All that to say, this year (especially this summer) I’m more likely to be reading a book than be on Facebook, and it’s done me a world of good. I have a few things coming out later this year that I’ll post about, but for right now I’m mostly head down, either in a novel or a Word document.
My writing year 2017 was pretty quiet, with one new story and one reprint in audio. This marks ten years since my first publication as “J. T. Glover,” with a number of milestones along the way. Have I learned anything since then? Sure.
1. Finish what you start, edit it, and then submit it.
2. Be cautious of anyone who uses the phrase “the writing community.”
3. Read the contract.
4. Words are infinite, but your time isn’t.
5. Reading is often helpful in writing more, both the usual stuff and new stuff, but don’t forget why you love what you love.
6. Listen closely to advice from currently working professionals.
7. Bad behavior is no bar to publication, but the publishing world is only so large, and people will talk.
8. Timely, professional business communication is a good sign.
9. You never know who’s reading your stuff.
10. For every person who extols the virtues of the writing life, three writers are broke, five have day jobs, one has a generous spouse or family, and two are very busy freelancers.
Anything else? Sure, but your time would be better spent on this stuff: