Monday, January 14, 2008

on inventory

I'm pushing for the goal of having my writer friends (as well as myself, of course) write six new stories this year, one new piece of speculative fiction every two months. To the international professional writers, this is a piece of cake (I'm convinced Jay Lake writes a new story every week). But in this country, where writers tend to take months or even years to generate a single new short story, it is quite a challenge.

The goal is to develop inventory, a number of stories that can be submitted for consideration to various markets or competitions. Rather than panic-writing for the Palancas for example (though I remember the strange delight of doing that when I much younger), it's good to have some completed stories that one can revisit or polish. Having an inventory, apart from giving the author a sense of security (being a working writer), also permits the author presence in publications. A writer, after all, is supposed to write.

Discipline becomes the key factor. It is one thing to write when inspiration strikes; it is quite another thing to write on demand. Some would argue that only stories written in the white heat of inspiration are worthwhile. I tend to disagree. The final verdict is given by the reader who is unaware of how the story was developed - what matters is that the story is a good read, which means it is well-written and engaging. Behind the scenes, unseen, is all the discipline of the author (I'm fighting my temptation myself, as the siren call of DVDs and the DSLite is nigh irresistable).

I have nothing against writers who take their time writing. Some of the best work comes from very long gestations. But the flip side is also true. Some of the best work comes from authors who can write quickly and produce fiction of consistently good quality. As a reader, I'd rather follow the work of an author who is of the latter sort - I get to experience his or her worlds more often. As an author, my own impatience drives me to action.

Back to inventory. As of now, I have stories upcoming in Story Philippines, the Digest of Philippine Genre Stories, Tales of Magic & Enchantment, Story Junior, and Growing Up Filipino. Most of these should be out before the end of the first quarter. But my own inventory is exhausted, due to unexpected sales last month. I need to get in there and write some stories. I just have one completed story, left over from last year.

A US anthology editor requested a new story from me, due March. The thought of contributing something to the antho that previously had killer authors like Joyce Carol Oates, Neil Gaiman, Nancy Collins and Terry Dowling (some of them returning in the new book) has caused me more than an upset stomach. Plus there are the usual markets that I submit to, and I would like to have a couple of pieces there this year.

In the "well, sure, but I hope it's fiction" file, I got feelers from Playboy magazine (it seems that the brand is launching a Filipino edition) if I'd be interested in writing. Of course I am. The US edition of this men's mag has published a veritable who's who of authors. I honestly don't know if this will push through or, if so, if I'll have anything to do with it. We'll see.



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