Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Today's entry is the one-thousand-nine-hundred-eighty-seventh post on this blog, so as I did two days ago, I'm going to flash back to what was going on in my writing life in the year 1987.

I attended my third Sycamore Hill conference that year, but I had not sold a story since May of 1982.  I really shouldn't have been allowed in the door, but as one of the organizers, it was a perq of the job.  I was learning at the conference, and I made many friends, though almost none who will come up to me at a con today and say hi, but I was also freezing up and not writing much.  That said, "Burning Up," the story I wrote for that year's event, ultimately sold (after I rewrote it, of course) and appeared in When the Music's Over, a Greenpeace benefit anthology that Lew Shiner edited. 

On the article writing front, Bill Catchings and I had definitely ramped up our freelance business, because 43 bylines of ours appeared in computer magazines that year. 

I was also consulting, a business that led me to Toronto three times in 1987.  The last time, I moved to Toronto the Sunday after Thanksgiving and lived there for three straight weeks.  The job was tense, and the hours were horrific, but I loved the city and became close, at least while I was there, with some of my co-workers.  I still love Toronto and look forward to returning there on October 31 for World Fantasy Con. 

I also traveled to the U.K. for the first time that year for the Conspiracy '87 WorldCon in Brighton.  I quite loved England, and I still do.  I also gained a phrase there that taught me a lot, a phrase I still use frequently:  imaginative concentration.  Geoff Ryman used it in a speech about writing, and it resonated immediately with me.  When as a writer you maintain high imaginative concentration, you are in the fictional world, really seeing and feeling and tasting and smelling it, so that telling details are readily available; you just report what you experience.  When your imaginative concentration flags, you start reaching for descriptions, relying on cliches, and so on. 

Finally, by 1987 I no longer harbored any hope that I would set afire the world of fiction.  Instead, I hung onto fiction like a man tied to a boat in a storm, terrified that the only fate worse than being beaten to death by the boat was drowning as I watched it recede in the distance. 


Deb Franklin said...

I'm finding these entries fascinating. The feedback back in the 80's must have been much less than it is now.

Is the fiction something you feel you have to write and get out there?

Mark said...

Thanks for the kind comment. I'm not sure, though, what you mean about the feedback. Would you help me understand?

I'll address your question in the next blog post.

Deb Franklin said...

I meant back in the 80's the author/fan connection was a distant one. Feedback on what was being enjoyed and what not was filtered or only personal at conventions. Or at least that is my guess. In 1988 I'd go to my first Worldcon and be in total complete shock at meeting authors in the flesh. =)

Mark said...

Very true, though such feedback is still far more rare than most folks seem to think.


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