I was thrilled and a bit surprised to read that Milo James Fowler has been inspired by lil’ ol’ me. I mean, the man is an engine of creation, his star is in ascendancy, and his blog amazes even the most jaded blog reader. Me? I’m just a wanna be writer carving a tablet or two here in the New Castle. I guess what I’m saying is that I’m honored, Milo. Right back at you, amigo.
Thanks to Milo’s recent post, I’m here to give eight of my fellow writers a well-deserved shout-out. They certainly live up to the “Write Hard Spirit” as described in detail here. (Yes, I know the rules say six writers, but I’m breaking that one. Sue me).
I’ve known Geoff Landis for a while now and his work impressed me from the very first page I read as a member of the Cajun Sushi Hamsters workshop. The guy is an amazing intellect, but also manages to tap a vein of emotion in his work. As much as any living writer, he inspires me to try harder. Now, he’s into poetry as well.
Chris Barzak is another writer I admire tremendously. He has worked tirelessly to establish himself as one of our best insterstertial fantasists. His books (One for Sorrow and The Love We Share Without Knowing) amaze me and his stories have appeared in all the best markets. Recently, he’s helped to establish a literary journal, Jenny, at Youngstown State, where he teaches.
I haven’t met Cat Rambo, but she inspires me at a distance. Why? Because last year we (Triangulation: End of the Rainbow) accepted a reprint from her. We sent a proof, as we do for all our accepted stories. This story had been published a couple of times before, yet she still made small changes to the prose and in every single case they improved the story’s flow. That is what I believe craft is all about. That inspires me.
Theodora Goss has inspired me since I read her first story at Strange Horizons. I don’t recall the title, but I do recall the vivid imagery she built through her prose. It was obvious even then that she was going places. Now, she’s in the process of arriving and I remain inspired by her blog entries. This one, in particular, whispered to that writer living deep inside my shuttered mind. We hope to let him out at some point, and see what he makes of the fresh air.
Recently, I’ve been voyeurizing Robert Sawyer on Facebook. Sue and I met him at Confluence years ago and were impressed by his humility and the unvarnished enthusiasm he showed not only for his work, but for the field in general. He was approachable and knowledgeable and incredibly hard working (just listening to a description of his work ethic made me tired). And guess where it got him? Only to the top of many readers’ lists of great SF writers. I want to grow up to be like Robert Sawyer. That’s how much he inspires me. I won’t speak for Sue, but there’s a possibility she wants to have his children (you did not hear that here).
Another writer I admire, both for his brilliant imaginings and his daunting work ethic is Ferrett Steinmetz. If you haven’t read his blog, The Watchtower of Destruction, you should. The world seen through his eyes is an amazing place. Mainly, he inspires me by finishing his workroom in the basement, one slice of wallboard at a time funded with proceeds from his short story sales, which are multiple and increasing. You’ll find his work everywhere, from Asimov’s to Three-Lobe Burning Eye.
For several years I’ve had the privilege of knowing Fran Van Cleave. She joined our little workshop in Bloomington Indiana having published three stories in Analog. I’m not really an Analog reader, yet I found her stories compelling. She managed to work emotional threads into the weave of idea-driven stories in clever and meaningful ways. I was impressed. Since then, she’s worked harder than any writer I know to perfect her craft. Currently she’s finishing her MFA at Seton Hill and completing two book manuscripts. I have no doubt we will see her name on bookshelves soon. In the meantime, I watch (from afar, alas) in awe as she works multiple jobs, raises a wonderful toddler (Hi, Athena!) and still manages to produce more words and more revisions and more sheer audacity of idea, than I can in my semi-retired state. Bravo, Fran. No one works at this harder than you do.
Finally, I cannot say enough about the one writer who has inspired me more than any other. Susan Urbanek Linville was there when I was ready to quit. She was there when I was too full of myself. And she’s still there when I wake up in the morning. Her nonfiction book, A School for my Village (a.k.a. The Price of Stones), is a testament to persistence and the writing craft. Her short stories almost always make me cry (ummm… make my eyes itch?). Is there any greater inspiration than love? I ask.
These are only a few of the people who inspire me to keep writing, keep trying. There are others, some of them already mentioned in Milo’s blog and Aaron’s blog. To these folks above, I dedicate whatever success I manage to carve out of the time remaining to me on this Earth. When I head out to Mars, it’s a whole ‘nother ball game.
Our society is not set up to nurture creativity, but to mine , refine, and market it as it does other resources. It’s up to our smaller community of writers, artists, and dreamers, to band together and support each other in whatever ways we can. Write Hard is one such way. I hope the idea will spread far and wide.