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Archive for August, 2016

A while ago I was considering participating in an anthology for charity. My sister provided original art for their first volume, and money raised selling the book went to a group supporting victims of domestic and sexual violence. Volume 2 called for origin stories: old religions told newly, entirely new ones invented, character origins, however writers chose to interpret the phrase, “In the beginning…”

Intrigued by the concept, I quickly produced a story which my writers’ group described as “Just So Stories meets OMNI Magazine.” It’s fun and cute, and also brief at 500 words¬†– too brief, as it turned out, for the anthology has a 2000-word minimum. I sent a message asking if the minimum was firm.

While waiting for a reply, I began to have second thoughts about my submission. I hadn’t read Volume 1; what if the editors had no taste, and my story ended up collected with a bunch of clunkers? They also hadn’t (still haven’t) selected a charity. What if they chose one I could not support? I considered sending the story off to a pay magazine. Mostly, though, I did nothing.

Finally, word came back that the minimum was firm. The editors offered to help me “expand” my story. No thanks, I thought; not going to mess with a good thing. I turned back to the pay magazines –¬†only to find that every single one was closed to submissions.

More nothing. Then F&SF opened last month. I dawdled and postponed. I really wanted to submit to Uncanny Magazine, a new-ish publication specializing in new ideas and new writers not getting seen by the mainstream. I supported them on Kickstarter in their first year and have loved the result. But they remained closed. So I did nothing, intending to send the story off to F&SF and yet not doing it.

Then, today – mere days after I signed up to support the magazine’s Year 3 – Uncanny Magazine opened to unsolicited submissions. I flew to the web page, ready to roll.

And encountered their 750-word minimum.

Fine. F&SF it is.

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I don’t remember writing this, but I definitely still think it:

(from Fandom Psychology at themarysue.com)

This is definitely a question I have had since becoming a fan. I was never a fangirl as a child; I liked pop singers and baseball players, but they were arguably real people, and I was inarguably a teen going through a phase. In any case, none of it prepared me for what would happen when I started watching Doctor Who in my thirties.

Fiction allows us to experience events outside our own lives and to become immersed in other people’s points of view. It teaches empathy and broadens our minds. Imagination and storytelling are powerful human traits; fictional characters are as real to us as historical figures, people in other countries, even family members who passed on before we were born. We choose to empathize with Frodo in the same way we choose to empathize with Anne Frank, and our minds treat them exactly the same. But fiction has a cushion of safety around it, one that makes it easier to process. There are strong parallels between the aftermath of the Battle of Hogwarts and the aftermath of the Holocaust of Europe; a person can learn as well from either, but one pill is a lot easier to swallow.

It doesn’t make you weird to fall in love with a fictional character. It makes you human.

No further comment required.

 

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