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August 8th, 2007

Congrats to anne_stringer whose short story "Last Flight of the Esperanza" currently stands as the most downloaded episode in Variant Frequencies history by a whopping margin of 2,000. Considering most of the other stories are, you know, MINE and everything, naturally this is a bittersweet congratulations. But that's the thing about women in fiction and podcasting, man. About women in most every field. You give a couple of talented chicks like badass wordslinger Anne and luminous Irish songbird Ali Groves the chance, and they will make the men their willing bitches.

It would be petty of me to point out that Anne's story went live a full month before "Delve" (my second place holder), wouldn't it? Yeah, no, you're right. I won't mention it.

Anyway. This all tells me a couple of things. One, Variant Frequencies is getting progressively popular with each episode. And it also confirms something I was discussing with another author friend of mine last week. I realized that I've become increasingly less interested in making short fiction sales. I've only sold three stories so far this year and here we are already halfway through the fucker. That's largely due to a noticeable lack of effort on my part (this is NOT to say I haven't been getting rejections. God no. Some things will never change). Right now, for instance, I only have three stories out. One I submitted close to four months ago, another was an invite, and the third is part of my lingering desire to crack a pro market just to prove to myself I can.

It's strange to be at this place, because I remember a time not at all long ago when my whole existence as a writer revolved around submitting short stories. I still love fiction magazines (I edit one, for fuck sake). I wish like hell they were even half as prevalent as they were in the first half of the 20th century. One of the stories I have out is being held over for another reading round, and I'll be thrilled if they buy it because I think it's an awesome market. And there are other markets like Apex Digest and Pseudopod that I feel a lot of loyalty to, either because they've been very good to me or showed faith in me and my work early on. I just don't care as much about those almighty three pro sales as I used to. I care about a screenwriting career and signing with a serious publisher.

But my enthusiasm for writing short stories sure as shit hasn't waned. On the contrary, if it were still at all possible to make a living penning shorts I probably wouldn't even bother with long form at all. I'm lazy and my attention span is short. But when I have the time to polish one off these days, I'm faced with the option of A) Beginning the arduous, lengthy fuckin' process off submitting, waiting, waiting, resubmitting, repeat. Or, B) Podcasting it. The turnaround is lightning fast. The listenership trumps the circulation of most small print 'zines two or three times over. The exposure is broader. In a 'zine I'll be one title among a dozen or more, whereas I am the main event of every VF episode in which one of my stories appears. When you break it down it's almost a complete no-brainer. And it's paying off like gangbusters for me right now. You can do both, obviously, but I simply haven't felt like it's been worth the effort lately.

Seeing your name in print is a powerful thing. Being paid any amount of money for your work is a powerful thing. Extra cash is always nice. Cred with folks you consider your peers is nicer on many levels. But I think you have to decide what your goals are and who you're trying to impress. For me, there's no two ways about it, my goal is to be a full-time author making a living from my writing. Period. And not "eventually." Not "down the road." Not "hopefully one day." Not "I'll keep plugging away at it." No, right fucking now. And if you find another way to get there, I firmly believe you should work that shit 'til the handle breaks off.

Anyway. Big ups to Variant Frequencies and to Anne, who I now realize I must destroy lest her powers grow beyond mine.

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