Friday, April 3, 2009

Short Fuses (or How I learned to stop worrying and love the Anthology)

At the end of last year a number of members of an online writing group I'm with decided to put together an anthology of short stories, mainly just to see what happened.
It seemed simple - anyone want to contribute? Yes? Okay, post the story you want to go in the book here. Done? Cool, now someone else will do a proof-read on yours and you can proof-read someone else's, sound fair? Yes? Good. Is that us, we have our list? Yes? Excellent. Would the couple of us who can actually do things other than writing and talking crap like to design the cover, format the text and generally do shit loads of work at your own expense so the rest of us can look good? Yes? Really? Cool! Let's proceed, then.

From that point on the shit hit the fan, pushing the fan into the bath, electrocuting the barely formed anthology so badly it almost died a crispy yet damp, slightly smoking and comically depressing death.

The problem was that, initially, the idea was to take advantage of a 'free publishing' offer from another writing site, simply because it was, well, free, and, despite many reservations about the wisdom of the offer, it was a site many of us had benefited from in the past and we felt they deserved our support.
The previously mentioned 'reservations' were, however, pretty damned big, for some of us. This other site had promised (yes, actually promised) to publish several thousand books before Christmas. For free. This was in September. if you want to know more about this whole thing there are other websites, blogs, prisons etc where you'll find a wealth of opinion so I'm not going to go into it here. Mainly because I'm bored shitless with it all.
Anyway, for some of the anthology's contributers the, eh, ambition, of the proposed publishing endeavour was a little on the 'that's fucking impossible and never going to happen' side. So some started proposing that we look for other options - Lulu, Createspace etc. Some, though, were dead set on going with the free offer, to support the other site (right, I'm sick of typing 'the other site' so, in order to protect the innocent I'll call it WHO? from this point on). WHO? has been good to us, they said. Well, yes, the others said, It's been good to us, too. Doesn't mean they've got a hope in hell of pulling this off, though. The other others came back with - They deserve our support and we should stick with them. While other of the other others added - And it's FREE! The others (the first others not the other others) countered with So's Lulu, and Createspace, and lots of other places! And loyalty only goes so far ...
And so, being a group of intelligent, creative, articulate and like-minded individuals, it descended into an epic barney. Friendships died, flounces occured, injuries were sustained on both sides and it ultimately ended in stalemate - where stalemate means everyone got sick of the whole thing and gave up on the entire idea. There was some serious bad blood created during this episode, and, in truth, the wounds are still there, festering, for many involved (not me, I hasten to add - I did my usual and sat on the sidelines, waving at the combatants as they spilled each others' words). I think it's fair to say that neither side won, and the whole thing goes down as a sorry episode in our site's history that shall never be mentioned again. It seemed highly unlikely that the anthology would ever see daylight.

Anyway, it's called Short Fuses and went online with Lulu this week. It'll be listed on Amazon some time in the next few weeks. It's pretty good, you should buy it. here's the link:

We've got a Facebook group going for it, too:

See ya


  1. Bravo!!!! Couldn't have put it better myself :)

  2. Sound's like the normal group dynamic of a bunch of writers (or artists. Nothing can be one without maximum bloodletting and foul tastes left in everyone's mouth. And in fifty years, when a quarter of the gang are famous and or dead, the episode will be written about in learned literary journals which are devoted to raking over and analyzing every word produced on that particular site.

  3. I should add that the WHO? version of the book is still in the pipeline, theoretically. So there may be two imprints to choose from eventually.

  4. oh good lord! there is a subtle hint in the word "co-operative"... Loving the title though; intentional irony??

  5. it certainly seemed apt at the time.