20 Sept 2009

The Distance

I'd hoped to put up a blog entry every day this week. Unfortunately the day job rather clobbered me. But today's the conclusion of NZ spec fic blogging week, so here goes. This may or may not make sense.

When I started writing with the serious intention of being published, I was worried about the distance. New Zealand really is a long way from the rest of the world. And at the time, I couldn't see any chance of being published here - I didn't know of any local magazines (except for the literary ones). I was going to have to send my stories to Australia, the UK, and most of all the US.

The distance revealed itself in the price of overseas postage, the long wait for replies, even the sheer madness of trying to purchase stamps on the US Post website and getting them delivered here. (Seriously US Post, Howick's an actual place - you should look it up sometime). But it was great. I started to feel like I was part of a community, even if they were on the other side of the world. First time I got an 'alas' rejection from Gordon Van Gelder I did a little happy dance.

Then I started getting published, not much, but enough to keep me going. I met editors and fellow writers, but in the States or Australia. Podcasting arrived and my world got bigger still. Mur Lafferty's I Should Be Writing was like having my own personal trainer, pushing me to be better. Escape Pod brought a constant stream of new fiction. The original Starship Sofa schooled me in the grandmasters. More magazines started accepting electronic submissions - the stamp nightmares went away.

Easy as it had become to communicate with people overseas though, the distance was still there. Where were all the kiwi spec writers? Where were the New Zealand magazines and websites?

I discovered Semaphore - a New Zealand-based spec fic publication. It was Marie Hodgkinson, Semaphore's editor, who first told me about this thing called SpecFicNZ. And there they were! Writers just like me, living in the same time zone!

SpecFicNZ isn't ready yet. We're still working on it. But it's coming, and for everyone writing speculative fiction in New Zealand it's going to be big. Want proof? Go back to the main NZ Spec Fic blogging week page. Look at how many people have added pieces to our mosaic. Here we are. This is us. This is what we do. And there's no distance at all.

And that's it for me. Thanks are due to Dan Rabarts for his amazing Hugh Cook article, the Wily Writers for reprinting The Salt Line, and Tim Jones for reading it. And most of all, to Anna Caro for coming up with the idea.

If you want to get in touch with me or anyone else who has been blogging this week, just drop us a line. We don't bite, mostly.

And just think how big NZ Spec Fic Blogging week is going to be next year.

E haere rā

Keep cool till after school


Marie said...

I can't imagine trying to write and publish pre-Internet. Every time I hear about the hassle people used to have to go through with postage, SASE, even waiting for a response in the hope that you pasted all the right stuff on to your submission and it got to its destination - phew. My hat, had I one, would go off to everyone who braved that particular obstacle.

(hurrah for being an internet child, yup)

Diane Severson said...

What a great story. Life has gotten easier in so many ways with the internet. I wouldn't know you or your writing if it didn't exist.