Back in March 2021 I posted an update about some of the new things I was attempting, including submitting a short story to a specialist press. I hadn’t submitted any short fiction for a few years. I’d been focusing on learning how to write novels, but I’d seen the submission call online and there was just something about the theme. It was aliens and otherness, and it stirred up things in my head, little threads that I’d been saving to weave into a story.
I’d thought I was going to write science fiction. I’m someone who reads and writes a lot of speculative stories, and several of the theme prompts involved literal aliens, but as I stared at the flashing curser on my screen a very different story began to form.
I called it Carrying Starlight, it’s about love and loss and space and time and not feeling like you belong. My own take on being an alien, and writing a story about the cosmos. It was one of those stories that felt true to me, and important, even though I’d made it up.
I knew it was a good story. Not perfect, but I was pleased with it and I told myself I might as well give submitting a go. You miss all the shots you don’t take, right? Even if I didn’t get selected I’d still have the story and maybe I could send it out elsewhere, but if I was honest with myself, I really wanted it in that anthology. I felt as if it needed to be there, but as with many things in life it was out of my control. I tried to distract myself by getting back into editing a novel I was working on, and I was in an am dram production, which was not an easy thing to rehearse for in a pandemic, socially distanced and fully masked. I was also entering writing competitions to win mentorship and trying to make connections with other writers, to find my tribe.
I didn’t have time to think about my little space story. Gradually, I almost forgot about it, until I woke up one day and checked my emails to see an email telling me Carrying Starlight had been shortlisted.
It’s going to be in Space Cat Press’s Severed Souls Anthology, out later this year (provisionally around Oct-Nov 2022). It’s my first paid publication, and that’s a big deal to me. Sometimes, I feel like I’m just playing at being a writer, even though I’ve dedicated so much of my life to this art form. This upcoming publication is validation and a milestone. I’ve been hanging onto this news for what feels like forever, because I wasn’t ready to believe it was really going to happen until now, as the marketing is getting underway. Space Cat Press is currently showcasing a writer from the anthology twice a week on the Space Cat Press twitter feed, and it’s super intimidating to read some of the author bios, there are award winners and successful novelists among them, but what amazing company to be in? It’s my turn to be featured soon, on Saturday 6th August. Re-tweets are welcomed.
If you’d like to read an ARC of the Severed Souls anthology, there’s information on how to apply here.
I’m going to do something special to celebrate all this, but I don’t know what yet. I’d love suggestions if anyone has any for me! I feel as if I need to mark this for myself. To enjoy this moment, so I have the memory to help me when things are hard again. For now, I’m off to write more short fiction.