Reading Short Fiction

My reading habits have changed a little recently, in that I’ve started to fairly regularly read short fiction. Usually I spend all my reading time on novels; I’ve had a few magazine subscriptions (Electric Velocipede, Weird Tales, Fireside Magazine), but what always happens is after a few issues I start putting them to one side and never getting back to them – I still have years-old issues, unread. I get the Tor.com newsletter and follow them on Twitter, but rarely visit the site directly.

What’s happened now, though, is that I started collecting links people share on Twitter. I’ve been doing it for a while with articles, but now whenever a piece of short fiction is mentioned I save that link in Pocket, too. It can take me a while to get round to reading these – I usually do it on a train ride into Newcastle two or three times a month – but I’ve been really glad to have read this stuff I would have missed otherwise. I’ve only read some of Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s stories because I saw links on Twitter, and now I know she’s one of the best writers out there right now.

The interesting thing to me is that deliberately keeping up with publications – whether print or online – has failed for me, and I’ve found myself now reading stories where the venue is irrelevant, where I’m barely aware of which site is hosting the piece I’m reading. I read individual stories, not publications.

Obviously I realise that kind of reading behaviour is bad news for the sites in question – particularly when I do so through an app that mostly just pulls the text and images from the body of the page and leaves out everything else, such as ads. I know I want to support sites that are providing me with this content, but I’m not inclined to want to visit all of these pages on a regular basis and see what’s there – I’ve grown accustomed to just having certain ones picked out and directed my way by names I trust (ie, writers and other book people I follow on Twitter). So I have a conundrum there.

There’s a panel at Loncon3 on the Friday called A Reader’s Life During Peak Short Fiction which looks at things like how people find short stories and pick out what to read in the current environment. It looks like an interesting one, and I’ll be looking forward to it, and looking for insight to apply to my own habits here. Of course they’ve scheduled it alongside the Diversity in Comics panel, which I’ll be disappointed to miss, but oh well.

I’ve rambled on long enough without reaching any conclusions. Now I have to get to sleep. Less than two weeks to go until Loncon3!

(I’m going into Newcastle on Saturday. I wonder what stories I have saved up.)

Misc. Points

Various things both mine and others’, in an assorted jumble that probably doesn’t work as one post.

1.

Foz Meadows talks On Grittiness & Grimdark. Her argument in an oversimplified nutshell: Works that claim to be “more realistic” because they are gritty and dark are implicitly putting forward the idea that the other elements of the story are also realistic, when often they’re anything but. Read the full post, she says it better than I could.

2.

Everyone is already talking about Amanda Palmer’s TED speech, The Art of Asking. Here are some posts that muse on what her talk means to book-business folk:
Chuck Wendig on The Art of Asking: For Writers and Storytellers
Andrew Losowsky at Huffington Post Books, Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk Contains Important Lessons For Publishers

3.

Fireside Magazine is by all accounts an excellent venue for short fiction. They’re currently running a Kickstarter to fund a full year of publication, and the end date is closing in fast. If you’re interested in seeing more decent short fiction – and in a venue that pays writers better than the low standard rates – consider backing.

*

And now, back to me.

4.

Writing:

– I wrote fiction this weekend. It wasn’t much, and it wasn’t good, but I haven’t done it in quite some time, and lately I’ve been getting hit with the story bug. I might try to take Chuck Wendig’s writing advice, and aim for just a little each day until suddenly I’ve written a lot.

– I’ve also hit this odd point where I feel wrong and unproductive when I go a while without writing something – fiction, a review, a longer blog or forum post, anything. I haven’t got past my procrastination yet, unfortunately: this post is procrastination for writing my thoughts on Ben Peek’s Black Sheep.

5.

Reading:

– I’m falling back into my old bad habit of buying books much faster than I read them.

– I’m getting very slack on Book-A-Week, as you can tell by my blog posting lately. I want to be more relaxed about it, but not also keep falling behind.

– I am thinking of clearing a few books out of my collection that I don’t think I’ll reread. I don’t know what to do with them, however. Preferably they’d go somewhere they’d be read and enjoyed… Last time I cleared out books was the first time, and I did the wrong thing: I just allowed my sister to take away a lot of them and sell them off to some cashback website. Ugh.

6.

I’m sure I have forgotten something worth posting.