A lot of stuff has been happening in the past 8 months and I felt it was time for a summary and update.
Walking around and talking to several people, drifting in this crazy bubble, I find that there is more support for SF/F and H in the Netherlands than people might assume.
Like anything, you need to understand where to look, what to ask for and where the balance lies. But in non of the cases, whether I spoke with publishing houses, organizers of events and the organizers of short story contests, was there a negative reaction. Each are very positive, willing to participate in some way to make things better for writers (and artists) in the Netherlands, as long as it fits within their (already busy) agenda and within their current line of activities.
Workshops: Masterclass writing
There is the series of 6 workshops that will start this year.
The idea with these workshops is to kickstart a trajectory that will fill several gaps for SF/F and Horror writers in the Netherlands. Three main points:
- A structure for writers to learn how to “think and work like a pro”, taking care of i.e. editing, revising and the feedback process but also granting insight in the different aspects of publishing (How do they read and evaluate manuscripts? How do they find new writers? How much does it cost to produce a book?)
- The development of an environment that allows writers to really push through to a bigger audience and a quality of writing that equals and even surpasses that of the better and best writers from the American and British markets.
- The opportunity to learn and get insights from i.e. professional story tellers, people in the publishing business and published (and successful) writers in our own field.
“Een aantal consequenties…”, now named “Gila Pradopo” (after its main character) is going through revision, making it more grounded and easier to hook into. As it was a novella reduced to 10.000 words, the extra space I regained for short impressions (as experienced and seen by the main character) helps for the world and the characters to rise up a level or two.
For hat same story I contacted one illustrator and will contact 2 others, to visualize certain scenes. The idea is to mirror what 1940 American SF magazines did with their stories: marrying words and art.
With “Gila Pradopo” I want to try and see what is possible for Dutch SF within The Netherlands. Is it possible to reach more than 5000 readers? Is it possible to gain over 50.000 downloads of that one story?
I wrote one new story in February 2014, have plans for 2 more, sent in 3 stories in July and August 2013 of which one won the 3rd prize with the Dutch Paul Harland Prize and two others ended in the mid and lower regions.
I also started to see why my stories fail to connect to my readers in the places where they fail to connect. Something that probably translates into better and more vibrant work this year.
In the last week I picked up my English work again, having found a possible editor who is a native English speaker, has a degree in Literature, a background in screenwriting.and teaches English at university.
This week I will also finally pick up another trail to another editor living and working in the US and recommended by a fellow Dutch writer.
That bigger audience of readers
I strongly believe that the Dutch reader-market is much bigger as we think right now. I also believe that the idea that SF,F and Horror are considered as “unloved” is a misconception.
What I do believe is that the quality of most work produced right now, might not be what it should be and confirms the preconceptions we try to fight so hard, that SF/F and Horror from Dutch soil is “simplistic”, “immature”, “poorly written” and therefore “not worth reading”.
Focusing on that “bigger audience”, I decided last year August to contact the organizer of one of the biggest Fantasy events in the Netherlands with an email that came down to this: “Hi, I am looking at possibilities to promote Dutch SF and Fantasywriters and artists in the Netherlands. One of the options I like to look at is a free e-book that showcases writers and publishers. Has that been done before at your event? Would that be something that fits [name of event]?”
VIP year SF/F/Horror writers
- You meet your fellow writers several times over that year
- You get in contact with other artists who are active in your same field
- You might or might not develop new contacts and new friendships with fellow writers and fellow artists
Asking what the exact purpose of this (costly) initiative is, I got this:
“It is not about the immediate effects, but on things that develop on the long run. Contacts these writers make now, might not lead to anything in the next two years, but could lead to some project the year after that.”
Then I got involved in an e-mail exchange related to the creation of an “SFWA” of sorts of Europe.
Some issues discussed are the presence (or absence) of European writers and the dominance of American and English writers in the European market, the difficulty to find a common platform for European writers to unite on, the challenges of so many different languages and how that might stand in the way of an easy exchange of stories and novels between different publishers in Europe.
The “Speculative Fiction Writers Association of Europe” luckily seems to become the “European Fantastica Creators Association” or something in those lines, striving to bring together and promote not just writers but all artists in our field, which makes the European playfield much, much more interesting for all of us.