A Crafty Business
I grew up reading short fiction. My mom was a science fiction nerd, so she made sure that our library carried the subscriptions to all the trade magazines, like Asimov’s and Analog. The only time we had a subscription for magazines coming to the house was when the new Omni magazine came out. I remembered helping to buy that subscription because the magazine was beautiful. (I kept all of those issues for years.)
While I read novels, I didn’t start out writing novels. I started out writing short fiction. This was in the ancient times when you could possibly develop a career by first appearing in the trade magazines, then getting a novel contract and going from there. (This will no longer happen, BTW. The old ways of creating a writing career are no longer applicable in the least.)
But not all of it.
I still sometimes submit short fiction to various markets. I rarely apply to the trades anymore. That’s too much work. Every once in a while I’ll have a story that I think is good enough, but they never sell.
I’m much more successful submitting short fiction to anthology calls.
Some of this is due to my level of craft. I can write a really good short story, by the given date, on theme, in the given allotment of words. It’s a talent that I developed over the years, particularly taking what was known as the Anthology Workshop. (Alas, it currently is no more. No idea if there will be a time post-COVID if they’ll be able to bring it back.)
For the Anthology Workshop, you were given the theme on Sunday night/Monday morning. The due date was the following Sunday, so you had one week to write the story.
Then, do it again the next week.
And the next.
Actually, do it every week for six weeks in a row.
Then, you have to read all the stories that everyone else wrote. There were generally 45 people in the workshop, and most of them submit stories for every week.
It’s a lot of words.
Then, you travel to the location of the workshop. Six editors sit up in front of the room and talk about…