A Brief Reflection
I’ve done a lot of thinking this week. All good things rest assured. This being my first newsletter, I’ve learned about myself and have had ideas pouring out of me so fast I can barely keep track.
But therein lies the problem. There is so much to cover on pulp fiction that I wonder if I’m doing the readers of this newsletter a disservice. There is so much history to unpack, so many stories to tell I would feel uneasy if each installment was lacking substance. This week I’ve been brainstorming how to keep this newsletter not only interesting for readers but also make it interesting for me.
Some ideas come to mind:
Long-form essays detailing the who, what, when and how of pulp fiction. Primers are not enough. I want to dig deep into historical accounts, books, and newspapers back from the ‘20s and ‘30s. This can be released on a bi-monthly schedule
New (and old) books I’ve been reading
Recommending obscure documentaries I’ve discovered about writers, craft, etc.
A reader’s guide to pulp fiction stories. I may expand on this to include other short fiction, novellas, and books I think people should read
Publishers and bookstores that carry pulp fiction
Recommending anthology films based on short fiction
These are just a few things that I’ve pondered that might make things more engaging.
Writing this newsletter about the pulps and their creators has been educational in the short amount of time since I started this project . Reading stories of adventure, fantasy, and mystery of the past fills me with a sense of wonder for a time long gone. How these master storytellers were able to pen amazing stories under such turbulent times and struggling conditions raises important questions for me when it comes to my own writing.
What kind of writer do I want to be?
There is no shortage of writers today whether they are aspiring or professional. The internet has leveled the playing field by making such aspirations not only feasible but financially beneficial, even lucrative for the top players publishing independently. Well established, professional writers like Brandon Sanderson, who recently crowdfunded nearly $42 million from his loyal fanbase via Kickstarter, have legitimized another avenue for other independent others to sell books directly to consumers. But it’s not just for big players with large audiences. One only needs to scan Kickstarter and other platforms to see plenty of smaller campaigns finding success.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
While I love writing this newsletter, I don’t want to just be a quasi-historian for pulp fiction. The phrase “writing about writing” takes up a considerable amount of space in the back of my mind. One only needs to scroll through Twitter or look at “AuthorTube” to see what I mean. It’s a trap many creative people fall into. My passion is writing stories. It’s time to put my own fingers on the keyboard and produce my own work.
My Path to Pulp Writer
I’m challenging myself to not only write my own short fiction but to publish them to viable magazines. I’m challenging myself to craft a story and send it out. Week after week. Month after month. Just like the pulpsters.
As part of this challenge, I will post a weekly update to showcase my progress. I’ll even post all the rejection letters I come across for everyone to see. Every single one.
Reading The Pulp Jungle by Frank Gruber showed me the grit and guts it takes to write a story hot from the typewriter and onto the desk of an editor. They were not attached to their stories. Once a story was finished they moved on to the next. Some will scoff or dismiss this attitude. Many will make the argument that one should focus on quality rather than quantity. But when an artist begins any endeavor with the goal of being prolific, I’d argue there is more benefit to producing a body of work quickly, rather than “perfecting” one piece for decades.
Ray Bradbury said it better: “Quantity gives experience. From experience alone can quality come.”
To embody the pulp writer’s attitude, I must focus on writing a ton of stories. I’m looking forward to this personal challenge and hope it will inspire others to create more art of their own.
In the end, making art is what makes us human.