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Saturday, January 16, 2021

Talking Shop • Getting Down to Work


Q: An aspiring writer asks, “How do you know when you’re ready to begin writing your story? I know my general theme. I have a plot outline with a few major holes I haven’t figured out yet. I’ve written extensive character bios for all my main characters and character sketches for all the minor ones, and have written a detailed description of the setting and its history. Is it okay to begin writing the first draft of a story when you aren’t sure how it’s going to end?”

A: You’re ready to begin when you decide to stop thinking about and talking about what you are going to write and park your ass in a chair and start writing the blessed thing. So start writing right now. Even if you wind up throwing everything out and starting over again tomorrow, write something today. Unless you have tenure and are playing the arts grants and commissions game, no one will ever pay you for talking about what you intend to d— 

Oh. Hold on a sec. Sharp and painful moment of self-awareness here…

Okay, change of topic.

The State of The Loon • 16 January 2021

Jiminy Cricket, it’s been a month since I posted on this blog? 

Obviously, things have not progressed quite as planned. My separation from my former employer did not go cleanly or smoothly; in fact, the divorce still isn’t quite final. I’d say more about it but can’t—literally, can’t. There’s a clause in my separation agreement that specifically forbids…

Never mind. After that was nominally wrapped up, the drama of the first half of December segued into the usual holiday stress and madness coupled with a serious medical issue. Thanks to everyone who has written to express their concern—no, it wasn’t COVID, we’re all free of that here, so far as we know—but it was a major distraction all the same. So after looking at everything that we had on the priorities pile, we decided to put off releasing Stupefying Stories #23 until after January 1st, by which time we assumed everything would have returned to normal. 

You can see how that turned out. Boy, am I glad I didn’t get time to finish and publish the post I began writing on January 2 announcing that SS#23 would be released on January 15, “unless the world ends or a war begins or something.”

Where we stand right now: Nonetheless, while the world staggers and wobbles a bit, it continues not to end, so it’s time to get back to work. All the stories for SS#23 have been copy-edited, the copy edits have been approved by their respective authors, and the book is stuck in production in half-completed state. Several of the authors have already been paid for their stories; the rest will be paid this weekend. Assuming no surprises—always a dangerous thing around here—we’ll wrap up building the book publication files this weekend. We won’t be launching SS#23 with the build-up and fanfare we wanted, but we are committed and will be launching it shortly, if only to prove that we’re still capable of finishing and releasing a new issue. 

After that? I have a sizable pile of copy-edits in progress to finish up here, a sizable pile of email to be answered there, and one of the more unsettling things I discovered in the past month was the pile of manuscripts in the back room that were marked as rejected back in the fall of 2019 but apparently the rejections were never sent. Some of those authors are still waiting and hoping to hear from us.

Okay, much to do and not quite enough time to do it, which has become our normal state, so time to get back to work. Upward and onward.

—Bruce Bethke

1 comment:

Elise Stephens said...

Bruce, these setbacks sound crazy difficult! I'm glad to hear you and your team are hanging in there. I'm excited about and looking forward to the release of issue #23!