Priming the Pump

The Whatever will be quiet over the weekend, but before I go I want to encourage all of you who write science fiction short stories — or who want to write science fiction short stories, or know someone who fits into either category above — to come around here on Monday, because I will have a big announcement that will be of interest to those sorts of people.

And what will it be? Well, let’s just say that when I suggested a few days ago that what I really wanted was my own slush pile to root through, someone somewhere was listening. Someone with both an appropriate publication and a production budget, and sufficient apparent insanity to give me free rein over both.

Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Oh, I have plans. Just you wait.

See you here Monday, bright and early.

51 thoughts on “Priming the Pump

  1. Admit it. You’re just dying to start sending out rejection slips, aren’t you?

    I think it would be very educational to go through a slush pile. I’ve had a glimmer of what it must be like from reading submissions on writer’s boards in various places.

  2. Dean asks:

    “Admit it. You’re just dying to start sending out rejection slips, aren’t you?”

    Heh. No. I’ve been a submissions editor before and that’s the part of the gig that stinks, particularly when you receive work from someone you know, or from someone whose work you admire, and the piece they’ve sent in doesn’t work for various reasons. It’s no fun to reject work, actually.

  3. Dean asks:

    “Admit it. You’re just dying to start sending out rejection slips, aren’t you?”

    Heh. No. I’ve been a submissions editor before and that’s the part of the gig that stinks, particularly when you receive work from someone you know, or from someone whose work you admire, and the piece they’ve sent in doesn’t work for various reasons. It’s no fun to reject work, actually.

  4. I would treat a submission from Jim as I would treat any other submission, of course. If I rejected his work simply because he and I feuded online, I would be a piss-poor editor. If he wrote something I liked and thought would fit with what I was doing, I would be happy to buy it from him.

  5. I would treat a submission from Jim as I would treat any other submission, of course. If I rejected his work simply because he and I feuded online, I would be a piss-poor editor. If he wrote something I liked and thought would fit with what I was doing, I would be happy to buy it from him.

  6. Sure sure, that’s just plain sensible. However, should you come to the completely objective decision that that you couldn’t accept Valvis’ hypothetical submission… it’s not hard to imagine that rejection letter being slightly less un-fun.

  7. Rook: Eh. When I snipe with someone online, it’s one thing. When it comes to doing work, it’s another. From submission to rejection (or acceptance), I would hope I would treat everyone equally.

  8. Rook: Eh. When I snipe with someone online, it’s one thing. When it comes to doing work, it’s another. From submission to rejection (or acceptance), I would hope I would treat everyone equally.

  9. I suppose that I’m being pedantic by insisting on separating actual treatment and private opinions, and I think we have complete agreement about professional conduct. However, I do admit that I’m a nasty, petty little person underneath it all. I apologize if it was interpreted as suggesting that this was a trait you share.

  10. No apologies necessary, of course, RooK. I’ve been doing writing and editing for a long time, and I’ve gotten pretty good at separating personal effluvia from work priorities, simply as a matter of professionalism. This comes in handy when one does criticism, for example — there are any number of writers/actors/musicians I find personally obnoxious, but who they are and what their art is are usually separable.

  11. Have fun with it, guy. Having just done two slushpiles filled with strangers, friends, writers I admire and random annoying people, you have all my sympathy and then some. Not to mention a puzzled shake of my head…

    Jay

  12. Ha! Thanks, Jay. I’m sure when I’m in the middle of it I’ll have the urge to hit myself with a mallet to stop the pain. Right at the moment, however, I’m looking forward to it.

  13. Ha! Thanks, Jay. I’m sure when I’m in the middle of it I’ll have the urge to hit myself with a mallet to stop the pain. Right at the moment, however, I’m looking forward to it.

  14. Are you priming Science Fiction muses only, or are Speculative Fiction muses who do not truck in science welcome to join this dole queue as well?

    I know, I know – can of worms, and all that when you get into skiffy hair splitting, but I am curious as to what lines you’re drawing (if any).

  15. Curse you, John Scalzi, curse you. On Sunday, Lee and I embark on a trip across North America as we move from one coast to the other, and now I just know that when I get to the boring bits–flat prairie state after flat prairie state–that I will be thinking, “Hrm. I bet John Scalzi has posted his tidbit of news and everybody knows except me.” And the prairie states will roll by slower than ever. And of course, when I go to use the wifi that whatever domicile we choose offers, it won’t work.

    Tell me the deadlines are a ways off, please. Like at least two weeks.

  16. I’ve read slush and it is no picnic. It is sometimes leavened by moments of hilarity, but even those pale after a while. From a writer’s perspective it’s actually a heartening experience in that it teaches you just how much worse than you a writer can get.

  17. I remember hearing Teresa N-H talking at WorldCon about watching slush readers get “slush-drunk”–you will share with us if you reach that point, won’t you? :)

  18. You might want to make a sort of Bulwer-Lytton category to try and divert painfully awful stuff, John.

    (Good thing J-Scalz is a few times zones ahead of me!)

  19. You might want to make a sort of Bulwer-Lytton category to try and divert painfully awful stuff, John.

    (Good thing J-Scalz is a few times zones ahead of me!)

  20. As Jill asked,” What lines are you drawing (if any)?” so do I.

    My dabbling in Science Fiction writing suffers from the rather ridiculous requirement that Science Fiction includes both Science and Fiction {simultaneously}. I can write papers on scientific studies or I can write works of fiction. Marrying the two has never worked well for me.

    I do however have many examples of Fantasy Fiction I have written. I have been told it is, “Not horrible, you have an idea worth exploring but you need either a better editor or alittle more practice writing” by a family-friend whose fantasy work has been published.

    If you draw those lines to include such a genre as “not-horrible unpracticed Fantasy”, I will have many things to add to your slush pile.

    I do have a cast-iron stomach for criticism. If what you are looking for is talent in need of tutelage, I think I am as good a candidate as any. If you are looking for raw gold-nuggets the other prospectors missed, I am not there yet.

    If nothing else is gained, atleast now I am looking forward to the coming week. Thanks!

  21. Dana remarked on: the rather ridiculous requirement that Science Fiction includes both Science and Fiction

    I am reminded of the words of Philip K. Dick, who said something to the effect of, “Our knowledge of science is, at best, limited and unofficial,” writers like Asaro, Benford, and Brin not withstanding.

  22. Dana remarked on: the rather ridiculous requirement that Science Fiction includes both Science and Fiction

    I am reminded of the words of Philip K. Dick, who said something to the effect of, “Our knowledge of science is, at best, limited and unofficial,” writers like Asaro, Benford, and Brin not withstanding.

  23. For some reason, I have the most incredible urge to say Up, up and away. Huh, isn’t that strange? :)

    No slush pile would be complete without sumbissions by the mentally ill. I wonder if the submissions will be all electronic or if I can send in the story that I wrote on the inside of a paper grocery bag with a crayon. Don’t worry I used a pink crayon so there is enough contrast to make it easy to read the bag.

  24. Ok, it’s always best to get an early start, so I’m trying to figure out what I’d need for an all-purpose story. So far:

    1) Explosions.
    2) A naked woman.
    3) A cute dog.

    And since presumably it’s a science fiction or fantasy project:

    4) A rocketship (with fins! Hey, I like fins.)
    5) And some elves.

    Anything I’m missing?

  25. If you’re gonna have Elves you’ll need some Dwarves too. An Elf isn’t much good without some dwarves for contrast. And unless they are the overwhelming power the key characters must overcome- you’ll need some dark and mysterious evil things to learn more about as the story unfolds.

    And yes, of course, you’ll need Lasers. Double “Duh”.

  26. I’m a bit off-kilter about “SF” as a category, especially as I am dipping periodically into “Starlight I” lately.

    If nothing else, “GI Jesus” will get you thinking about “Science Fiction” as a category.

  27. I’m a bit off-kilter about “SF” as a category, especially as I am dipping periodically into “Starlight I” lately.

    If nothing else, “GI Jesus” will get you thinking about “Science Fiction” as a category.

  28. No, no, you can do elves without dwarves, if it’s some humans-attacking-the-natural-world kind of story. And the woman can be scantily clad rather than flat-out naked.

  29. And while the elves and dwarves are there, for contrasting with each other, you need something for them to uniformly hate. Like orcs. Only because this is SF, these orcs are orcs (FROM SPACE!!) in axe-shaped UFOs.

    And then, to be all edgy and exciting, the story’s written from the perspective of the orcs.

  30. Only because this is SF, these orcs are orcs (FROM SPACE!!) in axe-shaped UFOs

    Aren’t those Klingons? And while we’re plotting, don’t forget the redshirt. Someone non-essential has to die horribly to alert the core MCs of imminent plot twists.

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