Sunday, June 7, 2009

The real faery queen



The Faery Reel is an anthology wonderland, which has a prominent spot in my fantasy bookcase, so it was with glee that I stumbled across a Q&A with co-editor Ellen Datlow. Sometimes, when I'd rather not froth at the mouth trying to revise 300-plus pages of my own fantasy tale, I take to adventures in the realm of Blog. This is where I found her hanging out at Canadian writer/producer Joseph Mallozzi's site.

A few things she said stuck with me, so I'm sharing. But first, if you don't know her, she has creds that stretch decades from fiction editor at Omni to co-editing the Year's Best Fantasy & Horror with Terri Windling. The Faery Reel has pieces by Charles de Lint, Holly Black, Tanith Lee, Kelly Link and more; Delia Sherman's delicious Catnyp is set in New York Between where a public library catalog is a lion and a changeling tries to research her human heritage. Okay, so now you know Datlow has serious experience and marvelous taste.

I was interested in a question to her about the future of sci-fi, fantasy and horror genres, especially since I read elsewhere that many editors are tired of epic fantasy. Datlow's response to the road ahead for speculative fiction: No shocks. Everything evolves.

That had a calming effect on me. She tossed the ball back into the writers' court, saying that markets fluctuate, and it is up to the writers to research before submitting. Then once you do submit to appropriate places, work on something else. If you get a dreaded rejection, just send it out again and again and keep writing other stuff. In simple terms, she said if you don't submit, you don't get published.

It made me think of an analogy which may work or not for you. I'm going to think of writing as a river flowing, not a backyard pond. So the work goes continually out into the wider world and doesn't sit around waiting for someone to discover it on the back 40. (acres, in ranch lingo, and, no, I'm not a cowgirl, sorry). As always, love to hear any reaction.

10 comments:

Dave said...

How long have you been revising?

How have you been going about your revisions?

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Hi Dave,
The story in question was one I picked from my hat of story ideas last fall and then wrote it like a runaway train for six months. My critique group cheered me onward, and I had a blast just letting it tumble out. BUT I kept thinking I hadn't spent enough time world-building since this was fantasy. I got lucky and was picked by a senior editor at a well-known publishing house for a one-on-one about the opening chapter and synopsis while I was at a conference. I knew from what she said that the very thing bothering me was really there. I need to clarify and hone in on the magic systems. This is no easy task, and so I've done a lot of thinkng, a little rewriting, but mainly I'm letting it sit. I just ran across a monumental article by Patricia Wrede on SFWA that is really a book-length series of questions to ask yourself when world-building. Those on magic take eight pages alone! So, whew, I'm going to go through them and see what I've answered and what I need to define.
In the meantime, I'm dusting off some older shorts and starting a new YA just to keep writing while doing so much noodling.
Sorry for the long answer, but it's a long process ahead.

PJ Hoover said...

I'm all about the continual motion. With as long as things take in the publishing business, continually keeping the creative process flowing is a must! And entire manuscripts can be written while waiting for a submission response.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Love your attitude, PJ!

Donna said...

I agree. Keep that creative river flowing. Something is bound to reach the marketplace.

MG Higgins said...

Love the river idea. I tend to "pond" and have to remind myself to keep things moving.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Big smile to Donna and MG Higgins (whose new website is a very colorful place to visit). May we merrily cruise the river and find wonderful welcomes along the way.

Robyn said...

The river idea is exactly how I want to think of writing. Love it. My WIP is almost finished.*she thinks of publication, movie deals* oops sorry, I was in another world. *grins* WHEW! But it took a while and it was very frustrating. But looking at it like that, makes it so much easier. Thanks so much!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

*grinning* and daydreaming with ya, Robyn!

Shelli said...

i love this book - used it for my first book (which was a fairy book) :)