Monday, July 28, 2008

Unique and Unpublishable Stories

If I have one ruling characteristic, it's that I'm gullible.  Years ago, my then-editor Deborah Beale (and a brilliant editor she was) told me I was like the Sampo, the mill at the bottom of the sea that in Finnish mythology grinds out salt, except that what I produced was ideas.  Before she said that, ideas came slowly and grudgingly to me.  Since then, they're the easiest things on Earth.

More recently, people have been calling me "prolific."  Being prolific is the Holy Grail of the working writer, so of course I was skeptical -- particularly since my novels arrive at intervals of several years.  But lately I've shown signs of buying into the common delusion.

Case in point:  My reading last Friday at Robin's Bookstore.  Since it was a promotion for Gardner Dozois's 25th volume of THE YEAR'S BEST SCIENCE FICTION, I was only one of three speakers.  And since "The Skysailor's Tale" would have taken an hour and a half to read, I cut and pasted and revised a fifteen-minute story dealing with one of the characters and called it "Tacey's Tale."

The reading went over well.  There was a good-sized audience and they liked it.  Afterwards, as usual, I signed and dated my typescript and left it for whoever cared to pick it up.  Just now, I went looking for the file I'd created for the story and saw that it had been accidentally overwritten.  So whoever picked up the reading copy has the only copy of it in existence.  It is, in the old, unspoiled sense of the word, unique.

Similarly, over at the Clarion West Forums, I've been working on a round-robin story with Eileen Gunn, L. Timmel Duchamp, Ruth Nestvold, Gord Sellar, and Marilyn Holt, as part of their fund-raising Write-a-Thon.  You can imagine the logistical problems of trying to market such a piece.  (Though I may yet.)  You can find the story by going here and clicking on Trouble Ensues.  The most recent version is down at the bottom.

So that's two stories with little or no chance of ever seeing money from them.  It's a good thing I'm prolific.

And Today Is Your Last Chance . . . 

. . . to buy a raffle ticket for the KGB Fantastic Fiction Reading series.  Fantastic prizes -- and you only buy a ticket for the prize you want.  So if only three people want a story critique by Gardner Dozois (the single best story doctor in the field -- I know this from experience), your chances go way up.  Though I suspect you're going to have competition if what you want is Neil Gaiman's (used and autographed) keyboard.  

If this sounds like your sort of thing, click here.

And of Course . . .

The Poem du Jour has been updated.  I'll also be updating Pastor Marcia's Journal later today.



Bruce Chrumka said...

Well, shut out of the raffle - no stories in a botle, tuckerizations or other goodies for me - but there's always next year! Good cess to the winners, even the lucky guy who won six times. Talk about dedication.

Michael, maybe someday you'll post a list of the ten other bottled story titles to round out your bibliography. That would make an interesting collection: The Bottle Swanwick.

Michael Swanwick said...

Since you ask, I'll be happy to.

I got shut out of the raffle too. But what a terrific batch of prizes! I wonder if they'll be doing that again next year?