So there are all types of writers, and writers write all sorts of things (didn’t realize you were reading the work of a genius, did you?). Some stick to one thing and perfect their craft, others dabble a bit here and there. One thing I’ve noticed quite a bit is many who aspire to write novels start by writing short stories. This is not to say that short stories are easier than novels, but your first novel can seem like such a daunting task that shorter work may feel more comfortable. I started writing shorts.
My very first short story was written for a theme anthology. Of course, I didn’t get in because it was absolute rubbish, but I saw the call for submissions and thought, Wow, I can write something like that! So I did, and I sent it off and waited for a response with greater anticipation than I’d perhaps ever felt before. I thought for sure that the response would be something along the lines of “Wow! That’s the story I’ve been waiting for!”
It took a few months to get a response, and during that time I wrote a lot more, and…and what does that have to do with theme anthologies? Not much. I pulled that section out for a different blog. It does however have a lot to do with inspiration. Where do we get it? Lots of places. Maybe next week I’ll talk about some of the sexier ones, but for now I’ll share my love for theme anthologies.
I’ve written for quite a number of themes. Notice I didn’t claim to have actually been published in the same number of theme anthologies. See the difference? Yeah. That’s not to say I was rejected for all the ones I wasn’t in (just some). On more than one occasion I saw a call for submissions for a theme that I thought sounded pretty cool, only to see the deadline was just a few days away.
I could have tossed the idea aside and figured “I’m not getting in anyway” but that would have been stupid, right? I mean, ideas are like gold, right? Well, yes and no. Ideas can come from just about anywhere, but if one slaps you in the face it would be a bit silly not to at least jot something down. If you do and it ends up sucking, no worries…just hit delete. However, if you don’t write it down, then you’ll forever believe it was the one that would have made you thirteen million dollars richer.
Back to themes. Once again, the key is this: it gives me an idea, and if I dig it I start writing. Whether or not I’m in the antho doesn’t matter as much, although it’s usually the goal (and of course would be nice). I can always take that idea and turn it into something that may find a home elsewhere. Once it’s written and edited a few hundred times, it won’t resemble the original theme very much (if at all). It might be a cool story though, and that part does matter.
Of all the theme anthologies I’ve written for, you know how many I’ve actually been published in?
Of the others, some went to the bin (because they sucked) and some have morphed so significantly I can’t even remember the original theme. Some of them are still looking for a home, some ended up published elsewhere, and some even landed in completely different theme anthologies. Weird how that works, isn’t it?