The East Winslow Scrivener

Fall, 1998 ** Issued Irregularly From Offices On The Fringe of East Winslow, Maine ** Free

Notes From A Journeyman Writer: November 8, 1998

by Steve Miller, staff writer, Member SFWA

Working Writer

Last time I wrote about my determination to be a writer, and how that took me off to a Clarion Writing Workshop -- specifically, Clarion West, in 1973. When I arrived at that workshop I'd been multiply published in other fields but not in SF. And to some at that workshop, that meant I wasn't a writer.

I mention this because over the last year I've discovered a rather insidious side to publishing, something that is perhaps an expansion of that attitude: the side of publishing that wishes to equate the fact that someone is "not currently in print" with failure. There's an added assumption, and that is that a "working writer" is a writer with current credits in a particular field, so that an award winning reporter or non-fiction author might not be considered a working writer by, say, a writer of fantasy.

I, alas, do have a line I draw in the matter. I tend to think that paid publication makes a professional writer. I, for example, have been paid to write greeting card verse, to write TV commercials, and to to write short stories. Just because I'm not currently writing greeting card verse doesn't mean I can't; just because my latest short story hasn't found a publisher doesn't mean it won't.

Therein is the problem. The current confusion in the science fiction industry makes it hard for an author to be sure that a book -- even a requested book -- will be published. In some cases publishers have even turned back finished, formerly accepted and scheduled novels, because new sales projections aren't good enough. For an individual or an organization to blithely assume that a writer is a failure -- or is not a working writer -- because they haven't had a recent publication is chilling, to say the least.

In our case, Sharon Lee and I were years between books. Not because there wasn't writing going on here -- there was. Sharon and I, while working on more fiction, were also writing book reviews, travel features, and news features. One of the most important things I wrote in those years was manual on computer use by the disabled; another equally important thing was a brochure for the Maine State Department of Mental Health.

And so, when Stephe Pagel of Meisha Merlin approached us about reprinting the Liaden Universe books he discovered that there were not three of them, but seven. He bought all seven at about the time the dam broke on our short fiction as well, with several sales to Absolute Magnitude and elsewhere.

Did we suddenly become working writers? No. We've been working writers, all of those years.

My advice: don't assume someone has given up writing, or is a failure, simply because you haven't seen a book or a short story from them in the last few years. Always assume that a writer is working on a project. These days being between publishers is a fact of life for many writers and is nothing to be ashamed of, nor shunned for.

That's my take. What's yours?

Since last time we've been busy -- and invite you to take a look at our most recent news report to see what's up. Or you can peek in at our photos from Albacon 98 at General photos and at The Don't Quit Your Day Job Players in action.

Liaden Universe Field Trip Number 4 -- SiliCon 98

If you are a fan of the Liaden Universe you may wish to visit SiliCon 98 where Sharon Lee and I will be Writing Guests of Honor. We'll also be reading from our forthcoming Meisha Merlin novel Plan B , autographing this year's holiday chapbook -- Fellow Travelers, a collection of three non-Korval Liaden stories -- available at the convention, and giving our first ever Guest of Honor Speech. This convention, November 27 - 29, will mark the first time Sharon and I have been Guests of Honor at an SF convention, the first time we've been at a West Coast convention, and our second cross-country train trip since 1987.

Fall, 1997 ** Issued Irregularly From Offices On The Fringe of East Winslow, Maine ** Free

Notes From A Journeyman Writer: September 1997

by Steve Miller, staff writer

A few years ago I attended a well-known Clarion writing workshop to be named later where I found myself face-to-face with several dozen writers and would-be writers. I was a published poet, a stringer for a community newspaper, and a book reviewer for more than half a dozen publications ranging from absolutely fannish, to amateur to semi-pro. I was 22 when I started the workshop (ahem, I did say it was a few years ago, after all) and 23 when I finished, but I think I aged a month a day for each day I was there.

As far as I was concerned at the time, I was a working writer, though I'd published no fiction to speak of. To some at the workshop I was an amateur -- for example, I didn't know AP style off the top of my head -- and to some I was just another long-haired dreamer. Harlan Ellison jumped up and down on one of my stories. Mark Mumper said it was impossible to do a wheelie on a racing bike (heh, tell that to the pros, friend). Joanna Russ even complained about my typing -- she had the misfortune to have the room under mine and I was using my six-horsepower Brother so-called portable typewriter on a dorm-room light-weight desk.

What aged me the most was not the criticism in class. What aged me was the fear that *this* was my big chance and that if I messed it up I'd never write anything again. Then Buzz Busby dropped by, who was just starting to write as he was starting retirement, as I recall.

Clarion West, 1973, in Seattle is when I determined that I would -- no matter the criticism -- be a professional writer. Since that time I've written and published short stories & novels, training manuals and Christmas cards, reviews -- books, music, typewriters, computers, drama, restaurants -- and more reviews, tv and radio commercial spots, travel articles, books of poetry, webpages and websites, hard news, soft news, features, and newspaper columns on chess, computers, board games, poetry, and books.

Liaden Universe Field Trip Number 1 -- AlbaCon!

If you are a fan of the Liaden Universe you may wish to visit AlbaCon 97 where Sharon Lee and I expect to give our first public reading from the 4th Liaden Universe novel -- known to many as Plan B -- and we'll also discuss this year's holiday chapbook, which will be announced at AlbaCon. This convention, October 17 - 19, will mark the first time Sharon and I have been at an SF convention together since 1988.

Brief list of publications I've written for, for those who like details...

If you've read this far you may be interested, amused, or bored to learn that among my magazine publishing credits are pieces in: Absolute Magnitude, Amazing Stories, American Inventor, Argonaut, Black Oracle, Cepheid Variable, Chess Life, Citadel, The Diversifier, EONS, Fantasy Book, Flux, Imagine Magazine, Kolvir, The Looking Glass, MIND, Owlflight, Practical Survival, Pulphouse, QuietZone, Skittles, Thrust, and ...many others.

My newspaper credits include: Baltimore Sunday Sun, Bangor Daily News, Belair Road Booster, Carroll County Times, The Catonsville Times, Harper's Weekly, Kennebec Journal, Maine In Print, MaineSay, Material Handling Wholesaler, New County Express, Northwest County News, The Northwest Star, Parkville Reporter, Prime Time News, Reisterstown Times, Skowhegan Reporter, Somerset Gazette, SQUONK, The Star North, Star Swarm News, Sykesville Herald, The TownLine, The Unicorn Times, The Valley Voice, Washington Post, Waterville Sentinel, and Woodwind. I've also covered the 1998 WorldCon for an online newspaper and written several articles specifically for web publications. logo This site has been provided by SFF.NET, in part because I've paid my dues and am a member in good standing of SFWA - the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. You may contact me at my regular email address and please feel free to visit the Liaden Universe Site
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© 1997, 1998, 1999 Steve Miller. All Rights Reserved. All views are those of the author and may not match yours.
This page is for people interested in The Liaden Universe, Carpe Diem, Agent of Change, Conflict of Honors, Two Tales of Korval, The Naming of Kinzel, Steve Miller, Clarion West Writing Workshop,, Franklin Senior High School Class of 1968, and this section is for people into really tiny print that no one else can read. We've seen no review of this page by Michael Capobianco, Robert J. Sawyer, or any other SFWA member.