Sean Williams

breaking the drought

posted on 20 Sep 2006 at 10:03 am

It’s been a long time coming. Prior to a couple of weeks ago, the last “substantial” (ie over 1000 words) short story I wrote that wasn’t a spin-off from a novel was “The Girl-Thing”, which came into being in September of 2000 and was published by Eidolon.Net in 2002. (It was also recommended by the Datlow & Windling Years’ Best of 2003, just by the by, and translated into Polish for Nowa Fantastyka.) I didn’t stop writing shorts for any particular reason. It was a simple matter of economics. I was working full-time on a stack of novels al due in a very short amount of time, and short stories simply didn’t pay the bills. So I forgot about them for a while. Invitations occasionally came my way, but for one reason or another, rarely reflecting the quality of the publications in question, I wasn’t able to do anything about them.

Now, six years later, the drought is broken. In the last two weeks, I’ve written two stories: one, a shortish piece (for me) called “The Seventh Letter”, will appear in the summer reading issue of The Bulletin, due to hit the stands on December 13; the other, “Midnight in the Café of the Black Madonna”, is for friend and editor Steve Savile, who invited me to contribute to a Doctor Who anthology he’s compiling. Neither story would have been written if I hadn’t been invited, thereby nudging me back to my old habits. I was very happily reminded of how quickly shorts can be finished, and how satisfying they can be to write. It’s been a real buzz.

I also love the fact that the publications in question exist at opposite ends of the publishing spectrum. The Bulletin is the longest standing literary forum for the short story in Australia, going back all the way to 1880. Doctor Who is, well, Doctor Who. The overlap between the readerships would be minimal. But they sit side-by-side in my mind, and the same amount of care went into each story.

Will I write any more? Apart from the kids’s books, which, at around 40k, almost count as short stories (ho ho), I do have a piece to write for MonkeyBrain Books’ new line of trade paperback novellas. More on that later…

Purely coincidentally, it rained last night in Adelaide for the first time in what feels like ages, so the title of today’s post is doubly appropriate.