2011 felt like treading water. In some ways that was OK – I’d just bought a house and there was lots of time to be spent and pleasure to be had there – decorating, settling into the garden, and putting a couple of not so great years behind me. I was still writing though, short stories, and the start of a new novel, but I was also feeling a lot of the time that I was getting nowhere. Especially with novel submissions – a seemingly endless series of rejections that really was going nowhere.
So it’s nice now to look back at 2012 and realise that a few of the things going on in 2011 came good. And the year just past has now set some good things going into the future. Also, I got lucky. And I learned a lot.
To start with, the novel submission/rejection flip-flop continued, but spring brought a nice surprise in third place in the 2011 Aeon award run by Albedo One magazine for ‘Where the Sun Shines Brightly’. I was really pleased that judges including Ian Watson and Mike Resnick liked my story enough to place it.
Out of the blue I had an email from Simon Ings, Editor of New Scientist’s ARC magazine. He’d read one of my short stories and did I have anything that might work for ARC? ‘Yes, sure,’ I said, ‘I’ve got loads.’ So I wrote ‘All Your Futures’ and that was in ARC 1.3. This was just utterly brilliant.
My partner, Gaie Sebold, got an invite to Edge-Lit in Derby, a one-day con run by Alex Davis. This was great fun, lots of nice people and some good panels and events, and then some good stuff happened in the bar. I bumped into Terry Grimwood who runs The Exagerated Press, who said that, if I liked, he would like to do a collection of my short stories. Then Jaine Fenn whizzed past, waved her hands in some sort of magic spell and said ‘Dave, this is Colin, you two should talk.’ Colin runs Clarion Publishing and had just signed Jaine for ‘Downside Girls’ a collection of short stories from the universe of her ‘Hidden Empire’ SF novels. So Colin and I propped up the bar for an hour or more, the result was I sent him my near future SF novel, (Shopocalypse). He liked, we signed a contract.
And I went to Milfiord again, on the spur of the moment, snaffling the last place. This was a lovely week, I met some old aquaintances and several new ones, read some astonishingly good stories, and went for the wettest run of my entire life with Al Robertson & Guy Martland. As before, I came away from Milford refreshed, energised, and pretty tired.
So, a good year, a splendid year. II’m dead happy and have good things to look forward to this year as a result. Things I learned are:
– Hang out at places. Meet people. I met Jaine at my first Milford a few years back (she really didn’t like my story), Terry used to be in the writing group some years past. If I hadn’t gone to Edge-Lit there would have been no talk about a collection, and no novel coming out. (But don’t network, to hell with that, and anyway I can’t do it and hate the idea. Just meet people and make friends.)
– Don’t give up. Shopocalypse had been rejected 136 times. Agents, publishers large and small, sometimes it hurt like hell. I still thought it was pretty fucking good and still kept submitting, even though some days I felt like a kind of masochistic weeble.
– Friends help you. The truth is, absolutely now way whatseover could I have done it without them. Thank you.