Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Wednesday Wanderings

I still distinctly remember the exact moment I decided to stop reading short stories as a kid.

I was reading a shared-world anthology, and one of the stories described a fortress as, "a rectangular square."  I was incensed by the redundancy.  (I was a weird kid.  I'm sure I've established this by now.)  It must have been the straw that broke the camel's back for me.  I don't recall if I finished that specific story or just stopped right there, but that was the last short story I read for a very long time.

When I came back to short fiction, it was for mercenary reasons.  No, I wasn't trying to kill people:  I had just started submitting novel manuscripts, and had been told that short story sales made editors more likely to consider your work.  So, of course, to write short fiction, I had to read it ...

The short fiction world had changed a lot since my first foray, especially in SF/F.  When I was young and reading short stories, one had a pick of magazines on the newsstand in every bookstore.  (All the bookstores.  I weep.)  I have several old Realms of Fantasy issues, and I had a subscription to MZB's Fantasy Magazine for a while.

When I returned to short fiction, the pool of magazines had dried up, and of those that remained, most couldn't be picked up by simply walking into a bookstore.  (This was before bookstores started crashing left and right.)  Electronic magazines had started to pop up, but weren't nearly as numerous as they are today.  Postal submissions were still very common, too.

What I found instead were anthologies.  I loved - and still love - anthologies on any theme.  I am less fond of "best of" collections, simply because part of the pleasure, for me, is to see different authors interpret the main thought in a variety of tones, worlds, and possibilities.

I had started reading short stories for business reasons, but I discovered a deep love for them - both the reading and the writing.  I also learned a lot that I never expected to that translated back into my books ...

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