A selection of images including the cover to Titanic Terastructures, A Quiet Afternoon 2, Thirty Years of Rain, New Maps, Shoreline of Infinity, K-Zine, Flotation Device and Magical Crime Scene Investigation.
In the centre are two painted images, one of a frazzled ginger haired woman drinking tea and one of a Sikh gentleman holding a bucket and sword and facing pink tentacles

Revelling in the editor’s power

For ten years and more I’ve been writing stories, getting them critted by my local group, the Glasgow SF (where SF stands for Speculative Fiction, although it did start out as Science Fiction) Writers’ Circle and pinging them out willy-nilly into the universe and hoping that an editor will like them and publish them. To my great surprise this even happens sometimes and I get to point at a book or a magazine in shock and glee.

Over the same time I’ve been attending SF conventions and, mostly, keeping quiet about my writing because I don’t have anything out at the time or the person beside me has a whole book to pimp.

I resolved to do something about this and so, on Glasgow being picked for the 2024 Worldcon, I volunteered to help edit an anthology just so I could attend with my name on the cover of a book. Witness my ego!

As such, myself, Neil Williamson and E. M. Faulds collected stories from the GSFWC to create a snapshot of what the circle is about in 2024 and it will be launched at Worldcon in August. More can be found out about it here but do stop for a moment and admire this stunning cover:

It has been very much what you would call a learning experience. The stories are wonderful and everyone involved has been lovely. We deliberately took ages to do it to minimise deadlines or panic. But if I ever felt bored re-reading my own work for the hundredth time to try and spot a typo or a badly constructed paragraph then that is as nothing to reading someone else’s work. Never mind twenty-odd of them.

I’m an easily distracted person with many, many other things to be derailed by. But I had to concentrate, pay attention to thousands of words and try to work out if they are in the right order, spelled properly and have all the right punctuation. This is very much not my thing, and this is before we mention that there are Scots language pieces in this too.

(Just to be clear, there really wasn’t that much work required on the stories, I’m just lazy)

But hey, I wanted to have my name on a book at Worldcon, so I’ve no one to blame but myself. It’s not like it wasn’t obvious before I signed on. Not that past-me cared for the amount of reading less-past-me would have to do, only considering the potential for a smug future-me. A future-me that current-me can only apologise for.

Luckily my co-editors were stars and have put up with my limitations and, as a team, we’ve produced something wonderful. Of course that couldn’t have happened without the writers and, in turn, the whole Circle who joined in with original critiquing, proof reading, art (that cover!) and much enthusiasm.

So, yes, I will be at Worldcon with my name on the front of a book. But only because of many other people’s work and I cannot thank them enough. Hopefully this wee bit of time spent editing has given me a better sense of all the work that goes on in publishing under the covers and I will be more understanding and patient when working with other editors in the future.

I only had to read the stories in this book, not a slush pile of hundreds of pieces and filter out the dross and the “AI” sludge from the decent efforts and decide what I not only like, but could attempt to work with the writer to make even better. The people who do that deserve a medal, a large beverage of their choice and a gentle head massage by a Care Bear.

Not that it’ll stop me pinging off yet more stories to slush piles in the future, or being annoyed when they get rejected, but I might understand a bit better. And as for having my name on a cover, it’s much more important what is inside than who the figurehead is. I hope you consider looking inside this particular cover, there is brilliant stuff in there.

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