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A correspondent asked me two questions: first, what magazines do I read, particularly the small ones, and second, how do I stay "current" with the field?

I subscribe to both Analog and Asimov's (partly because I like them, partly because I want to support them, and partly because both have bought fiction from me--I don't always read all the stories, though.  Time issues).  For the small markets, I subscribe to Talebones, Black Gate, Black Static (by the same folks who do Interzone), and Weird Tales.  They are all interesting and worth following.  You can't go far wrong, though, in buying the Dozois and the Datlow Year's Best anthos.  Not only can you see what markets produce the stories that actually get into the magazines, but they also do the extensive "honorable mention" lists, which I think are a good indicator of quality.  I own copies of some of the other year's best collections too.
 
By the way, I also buy F&SF, Realms of Fantasy, and Cemetery Dance (when it's available) from the newsstand.  Since I am a short story fan, I also buy single-author collections.
 
I'm sorry to say that I haven't read much fiction on line, although I understand that a lot of good fiction is available there, and I've read some dynamite stories on line.  The now defunct SCIFICTION that Ellen Datlow edited was particularly good.  When I hear buzz about an on line story, I'll go find it.
 
I don't really keep current, though, I'm afraid.  It turns out that reading and writing opportunities happen at exactly the same time, and I can only do one, so my reading suffers.  This summer I started a project to read from Dozois's Best of the Best anthology, with the idea I could analyze each story as I went, but even that project died after a few stories.  It was taking too much time from my writing.
 
James Michener said once that you should read as many of the great books as you can before you turn 20.  I think he meant that you will be most influenced for the rest of your life by those.  That may be true for writers too.  My biggest influences, and the writers who impact my writing most are the ones I read pretty early: Heinlein, Bradbury, Silverberg, Waldrop, Le Guin, Ellison, etc.  My later discoveries are still from more than a decade or so ago: Connie Willis, James Patrick Kelly, Ted Chiang.  My newest influences are Neil Gaiman and Kelly Link.
 
There may be some advantage in not keeping current, though.  I'm not likely to be influenced by the latest editorial phase.  The reason this is important is that the latest phase I see in the magazines is actually the phase from six months to a year ago.  Who knows what the editors are looking at now?  I just plug along at my own pace, developing my own voice and material.  Voice and material are, of course, influenced by the times I'm in, but they also are the sum of everyone I've read.  The current stories I read do inform me, and sometimes I write in reaction to them, but, in general, I read much less than I used to.
 
I don't think my slower reading pace is unique among writers either.  There's been a lot of fuss in SFWA about not enough stories receiving the minimum numbers of recommendations to make the preliminary Nebula list.   Part of the problem is that there are a LOT of stories published each year, so the nominators have a lot to choose from, but the other is that the writers themselves aren't all voracious readers.  They have their writing to do.
 
Although, now that I reread this, it looks like I manage to do a lot of reading anyway.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
bluetyson
Jan. 8th, 2008 06:50 am (UTC)
The last bit of course is why you should let the super editors nominate, too, being the people that do read it all...

Be pretty funny to have no awards because 'we were all too busy writing our own stuff to read anything.' :)
serge_lj
Jan. 8th, 2008 06:03 pm (UTC)
I subscribe to Asimov's and Analog. And to Realms of Fantasy. I am amused at the extreme disconnect between the latter's excellent fiction and its advertising, but hey, that pays for the existence of the magazine.
jp_davis
Jan. 8th, 2008 11:59 pm (UTC)
I think the main reason I'm not influenced by editorial trends is because I'm slow on the uptake. Somewhere around the third story I read in a trend, I think, "gosh there are a lot of twelfth-person squidpunk missing children stories of late," and write it off to a bizarre coincidence. I guess my mind has yet to catch up with the fact that hot topics come in waves like that.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )