I feel like I’m in this incredibly strange position. While I’ve never considered myself to have ever really stopped writing, I admit fully that I’ve stepped extremely far from the center of the world I knew previously–though I guess it’s more appropriate to say I stopped moving, and the rest of the world kept right on dancing. I’ve made distance between myself and the SF community by my own inaction. I understand this better than you can guess.
Regardless, it’s just so weird to have an established background but feel so out of touch.
Realizing this, I’ve made it a priority to address the vacuum over the past few months and I’ve been working my tail off to get myself back into the game–or at least to understand where the game is at. If I’ve learned anything at all through all this work it’s that this is one helluva great time to be a new writer.
Of course, I’m not really a new writer, but it kinda feels that way every now and again. Mostly now. Except when it’s again.
Anyway, I mean … wow. It’s a really different world than even ten or fifteen years ago. Back in those grisly old days you had to code your own damned website, blogs were journals, and there weren’t any simple ways to learn anything. The only real way to get real contact with professional writers, or direct understanding of what it took to be a real writer was to drop a couple thousand bucks and go to a Big Name writer’s camp or at least find your way to a convention. Both of these options are still there, of course.
But now. Well.
The material available to the total newbie out here today is immense and really useful. It’s freaking staggering how easy it is to find help now. Forums, websites, podcasts, twitter feeds, social networks. Geez. I can’t imagine how any new writer can possibly go wrong.
My latest approach has been podcasts. I mentioned a few posts back that Lisa and I are spending a lot of time at the health club. We go for an hour after work pretty much every day, and we’ve been doing three hours a day each weekend day. This means I set aside about eleven hours a week to listen to something of value. This doesn’t count the quiet moments around lunch that I can use, or the 10 minute drives to work that I occasionally grab. (Note: none of this is actual writing time, but instead is time I can pull through multi-tasking–nothing better than learning about the field while burning a few calories).
So the iPod has been burning.
I’ve spent some of this time listening to interviews of editors that I was considering sending my book to, which immediately gave me a feel for what they thought and how they approached material. I’ve listened to several what I’ll call “culturally relevant” stories by the Scalzi’s and the Doctorows and the Buckells (hiya, Toby…you go, guy) and several others. I took in James Patrick Kelly’s environment-changing Burn. I’ve experienced NPR and Barnes and Noble interviews of probably 30 writers that range from Anne Lamott to Ken Follett to Niel Gaiman to Laura Lippman. I’ve found Shaun Farrell’s Adventures in Science Fiction Publishing, and Mur Lafferty’s I Should be Writing. And, yeah, those are just a few of the goodies I’ve come across.
I mean, it’s almost impossible to _not_ know at least something about what’s going on in the field as long as you work on it just a little bit. And this is just in Podcast space. I’m not even yet touching on the fact that there appear to be a gazillion solid markets for short fiction now.
It all makes me feel like an old geezer. “In my day and age you had to write uphill both ways…”
So, yeah, it seems like a great time to be a new writer, though I admit I wish I didn’t feel quite so much like one.