Someone asked me why I don’t submit short stories to other publications, contests, and whatever else there is in the mix of things that I see everyday. Since that started a whole conversation about it, I figured that I’d outline my reasons here, as some other people might be wondering.
The main factor is time.
I work a lot and that’s just my real world job. Whatever free time I do have, which I mainly get by waking up extremely early or sacrificing weekends, is typically dedicated to working on my books in the Barbarians of the Storm series. The only other time I set aside for writing is for these Substack posts, which I see as a necessary part of the process, as I try to grow my overall platform and build a community with other writers and fans of the book series and the stuff I put out.
I honestly don’t write as much as I would like to on this platform, which is now starting to show me how important of a tool it is to have a more intimate and direct relationship with my readers and my colleagues who are working hard to accomplish similar things. The last few months I have seen things grow exponentially, and I want to maintain that momentum because at the end of the day, I would like writing to just be what I do for a living.
Another factor is that I want all the fiction I write, at least for now, to be tied to the Barbarians of the Storm series. Sure, I have other stories I want to tell and other projects I’d like to do outside of this series. However, growing the mythos and enriching it is my current priority.
I don’t think that it would be best for me or for another avenue to publish through, to have me submit Barbarians of the Storm-related stories. While it might draw a wider audience to my book series, I don’t feel like that’s necessarily ethical when I’m providing work to another publisher trying to stick to their theme or their mission. While it would give me wider exposure, I am already growing and succeeding at a rate much faster than I could have anticipated.
Dan the Destructor came out this year. Now I’m already working on the fourth book in the series. I write fast, but even I didn’t expect this all to find its way out of me as quickly as it has. With each book release, I’ve had a noticeable increase in success and that has become something that drives me to keep working hard.
Lastly, the third factor is my style. I write in a tense and at a pace that some people don’t like, as it isn’t “traditional” in a literary sense. It was never meant to be and I was aware of it, as I was writing and editing the first book. My stylistic choices are my own and it is something I wanted to experiment with in an effort to tell fast-paced, no time wasted, action adventures. That being said, my literary style probably doesn’t fit within a collection of other authors’ work. It would most likely exist in extreme contrast to the more traditionally written entries in an anthology.
Also, my “genre” isn’t something that you can lump into anything specific. That’s also by design. Sure, it is sword and sorcery with a touch of horror, which is common in a lot of these anthologies put out by others. However, within the same stories, there is sci-fi, comedy, and an overall style that feels more like an ‘80s action B-movie. My influences are my influences (I outlined them in great detail here) and I’m not going to put certain things to the side just to make something more in line with what publishers would want.
Honestly, at the end of the day, I’m trying to build my own thing. I understand why some purists wouldn’t be keen on my stories and long-term vision, but I also don’t care. I’m writing the stories I want to read because they didn’t exist and the stuff that I have loved in the past has become so unrecognizable that I have moved on.
I don’t mean to come off as harsh or as if I don’t care about what other people are doing; I think my actions have pretty clearly shown that I’ve been supportive of a lot of other creators. We all have our own visions, though, and this is mine.
I think the bit you said about your style not being "traditional" bears a bit of emphasis. The present tense threw me off a bit when I first started the series, but I firmly believe that when it comes to stylistic choices, the author should always err on the side of completing their vision as they envisioned it. It may narrow your audience, but I'd rather have a small audience that loved my work than a large one that just thought it was okay. I think sticking to your guns on the stylistic choices you made has given the series its own identity, and that's something you just can't fake.
And once again hitting me right in the truth, specifically on the point of time.
I do want to write and pen stories for other publications. I already have some in-roads and opportunities staring me down. I'm too full of stories not to tell them. But time has been the absolute killer of a lot of my plans.
There's a reason I'm taking a full year (with the help of family) to work on not just 365, but all my endeavors. YouTube, radio, musicmaking, film reviews and filmmaking, and of course, fiction. It's because we are living in a world frankly unfit to live in. Bureaucracy, deranged expenses, and a laundry list of other maladies gobble up every ounce of our time and energy that isn't nailed down. I'm unsurprised that a lot of wonderful talents are at the beck-and-call of full-time employment, and thus are limited in what they can do. That's where I want to come in and take a stab at making my work in the Iron Age my life's true work. Because at the end of the day, I'm a creative. I may have to pull a day job by the year's end. I may have to think long and hard about what projects go forward and what get put on hold. But I want the chance to die on my feet before I throw myself at the world's mercy.
Stay killer, Rob. We got this!