I am repeating myself all over the various remaining social media platforms I’m still on, so I’ll do it again here.
We have successfully wrapped up three years of Size Riot, the flash fiction contest for size fantasy. What would be a good abbreviation for that? SF is already taken. MMF (macro/micro fantasy)? SizeF? Maybe none. It just is what it is. Twelve contests and 120 participants later, here we are. I like saying that. More people than that have entered, but 120 individuals have submitted stories to the contests, and many of them have submitted a few stories, some have written several. The people who’ve stuck with us have a nice little oeuvre to showcase. How about that?
The contests started out with an evaluation that asked readers to guess who had written each story. This was a kind of test to see which writers had a definitive style that an astute reader could pick up on. You know, some people have favorite topics and specialties, or they have identifying marks like grammatical tics or preferred words and phrases. Then again, some of these readers hadn’t read anything by these writers before, since we pull from a random public distribution, so those polls were inconclusive but fun.
This time, after three years of reading the works we put out, I’ve set up another kind of poll. All you have to do is put an author’s name in the blanks—When you read a story by _____, what can you expect to find?—and then describe their strengths, their style, the elements of storytelling that are their hallmark, if any. Now, 120 authors to do this for is far too lengthy, so I’ve cut it off at any writer who has successfully submitted a story for at least three contests, and that reduces the roster to 35 participants. Still a lot, but none of the questions are mandatory. Please share your impressions here.
You can take December off for a breather, but it’s also time to sign up for CruelJan20, starting our fourth year as a community! I love the sound of that. If you’re new, read the rules and the FAQ, review the contest calendar, and then sign up to join. We’ve already got several competitors enlisted and ready to go, and we haven’t even announced the mitigating topic for this round.
That’s right, now’s the time to nominate a topic to color or constrain CruelJan20. What’ll it be? Nominations will be accepted for another week, and then a ballot will be created to vote on these. The most popular selection, of course, will be announced shortly before January, when the next writing contest month begins. We’ve got nearly a couple dozen so far, with no repeated suggestions, so this is going to be an interesting process.
What else? I dunno, I have all sorts of ideas I have yet to make good on. I’ve been planning a podcast for over a year and nothing’s come of it. I took another attempt at recording an audiobook of my work, and it just wasn’t working out. I had a good month of writing during NaNoWriMo, and I “won” at over 53,000 words, but I haven’t written for over a week as of this entry. I don’t know what’s up (though I had an iced Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and was filled with a jittery elation that made me think I could crank out a story in that moment). And that gets in the way of a couple novels I have planned. I’m no James Patterson, wealthy enough to just hand off an idea to some ghost writers to emulate my style, so I’ve got to do something about my writer’s ennui.
It’s winter here, so all the local giantesses are covering themselves up in thick layers of heavy clothing, so there goes that vein of inspiration. I’m reading more, trying to hit a total reading goal on Goodreads. You ever do that? I picked up some Terry Pratchett books that have to do with tiny people living in a big world, and he’s written quite a few. They’re great, because every author who approaches this premise is going to come up with a fantastic, perfect detail that no one else has thought of. So if you read everyone who’s doing this, and if you read the most diverse spread of size authors possible, you have access to the greatest amount of information and possibilities available.
But that’s the thing about the size umbrella, isn’t it? We can all show up in a community because we’re all into size differences, but then we get siloed very rapidly: the writers into tiny men and giant women aren’t into Furries; the Furries aren’t into breast expansion; the artists into breast expansion aren’t into vore/mouthplay; the video producers doing mouthplay aren’t into blah-blah-blah, and on and on it goes. Of course there’s some points of crossover in the Size Venn diagram, but they’re slim. I’m staying in my lane, writing giantesses and tiny people, and large sections of the size community will never read a single word I write. Sometimes I understand it, and other times I wonder what the hell I’m doing.
I keep going back to Henry Darger, holed up in his crappy little apartment after a full day of janitoring, maniacally tracing his little girls and placing them into hair-raising adventures, meticulously drafting wartime stats on expenditures and losses. Scrolls and scrolls of it, reams of paper, tomes upon tomes jammed forcibly into any space that will hold them, and all of it without an audience. Working on his passion, committing to it for years, and never even heard of until his corpse was discovered.
There are people who say you’re supposed to pursue art for art’s sake. You draw not to become a millionaire but because that’s how you express yourself. The point is the end product, not critical acclaim. You write because that’s how you engage with reality, and you’re a writer even if no one ever reads anything you come up with.
However, as unsatisfying as this is, I don’t think that’s entirely what’s blocking me from writing. I mean, cranking out hundreds of stories is kind of a commitment before you suddenly feel it’s pointless. Wouldn’t it make more sense to gutter out after, like, ten? Two people regularly comment on my stories, and a handful of people say they’re fans. Isn’t that enough? Isn’t it enough to write for a dozen people who are waiting to see what you come up with? And if not, then what? What’s the threshold number? What’s the crowd size that suddenly buoys you along as you effortlessly excrete story after story?
No, there’s something else involved here. I need to figure out what it is. Maybe I should go back to therapy and hire a professional question-asker. Christ, everyone should go to therapy, it’s so relieving to have someone who faithfully pretends to be interested in you! Everyone needs someone in their life who acts like they’ll miss them when they’re gone. Unfortunately, that costs money, and not having that excludes you from most of society.
I’m really drifting here. But at least I’m writing, in a way. As offensive as it is to say, I hope you all have a lovely holiday season.