Friday Challenge Update
That is all.
Practical discussions of the craft, trade, and business of writing.
No politics. No gossip. No cute cat stories.
How might I vector more eyeballs to my story?Well, that's the mystery we're all trying to solve, isn't it?
...what I'd like to see more of here is your old short stories, accompanied by a technical analysis of why you think it worked or not, and what you would do differently if you wrote it again now.In hindsight, what worked best for me was something that can't be reproduced now. When I first set out to get serious about getting professionally published, some thirty years ago, there were six pro magazines on the market, most of which were monthlies, and at least two dozen semi-pro mags, some of which paid decent word rates but didn't just didn't have the circulation to count as "pro" markets. In those days SFWA's criteria for determining whether a magazine was a pro market combined both the word rate and the circulation, and the big dog in the marketplace, Asimov's, started at 5 cents a word and reached a paid circulation of 100,000 copies monthly.
She walked into the room, sharp in her gray sweater and skirt.
“What are you doing?” she asked, seeing her husband staring at an unfamiliar blog, fingers poised over the keyboard on his mac.
“I’m trying to enter my first Friday challenge,” he replied distractedly.
“Yeah. This writer, Bethke, who’s like the founder of cyberpunk… he does this cool challenge every week where he gives people a topic and they try to write the best original piece.”
“I see. Did he write Snowcrash?” she said, sitting down.
“Okay, then I guess I don’t know him. So… what are you supposed to write about?”
“He’s asking us to do a rant about modern life.”
“Ah. You should talk about how much you hate the mainstream choices in this presidential race.”
“No, I can’t. See, this thing has restrictions. Like… I can’t talk about Mitt Romney’s weirdness or how I think Giuliani and Hillary are two heads on the same evil hydra.”
“Oh.” She looked up for a minute with pursed lips. “What about writing about illegal immigration?”
“No – I can’t do that either. I also can’t talk about gays, even though it would be fun.”
“Maybe you could talk about how much fun we had as kids… and how the new generation just doesn’t get it, because they’re so plugged into their stupid videogames, etc.?
“No. that’s another restriction. I can’t do the ‘kids these days’ angle.”
She got up from her seat. “Well honestly, I don’t know what you’re going to write if you don’t pick one of those topics.”
She exited the room, leaving the faint scent of sandalwood in her wake.
“Maybe I can rant about how many rules there are these days?” he muttered, to no one in particular.
Standing up, he flipped off his computer and started looking at his taxes for the thirtieth time.
“Yeah… maybe I’ll do that… when I get done with this mess.”
The philosophy of political correctness is now firmly entrenched over here, too, and at its core is a refusal to look the truth squarely in the face, unpalatable as it may be.So farewell to George MacDonald Fraser, a voice whose like we will not hear again. Salud!
Political correctness is about denial, usually in the weasel circumlocutory jargon which distorts and evades and seldom stands up to honest analysis.
It comes in many guises, some of them so effective that the PC can be difficult to detect. The silly euphemisms, apparently harmless, but forever dripping to wear away common sense - the naivete of the phrase "a caring force for the future" on Remembrance poppy trays, which suggests that the army is some kind of peace corps, when in fact its true function is killing.
The continual attempt to soften and sanitise the harsh realities of life in the name of liberalism, in an effort to suppress truths unwelcome to the PC mind; the social engineering which plays down Christianity, demanding equal status for alien religions.
The selective distortions of history, so beloved by New Labour, denigrating Britain's past with such propaganda as hopelessly unbalanced accounts of the slave trade, laying all the blame on the white races, but carefully censoring the truth that not a slave could have come out of Africa without the active assistance of black slavers, and that the trade was only finally suppressed by the Royal Navy virtually single-handed.
In schools, the waging of war against examinations as "elitist" exercises which will undermine the confidence of those who fail - what an intelligent way to prepare children for real life in which competition and failure are inevitable, since both are what life, if not liberal lunacy, is about.
PC also demands that "stress", which used to be coped with by less sensitive generations, should now be compensated by huge cash payments lavished on griping incompetents who can't do their jobs, and on policemen and firemen "traumatised" by the normal hazards of work which their predecessors took for granted.
Furthermore, it makes grieving part of the national culture, as it was on such a nauseating scale when large areas were carpeted in rotting vegetation in "mourning" for the Princess of Wales; and it insists that anyone suffering ordinary hardship should be regarded as a "victim" - and, of course, be paid for it.
That PC should have become acceptable in Britain is a glaring symptom of the country's decline...