Friday, 11 December 2015

Context Changes Everything

I vaguely recall having a story nominated for a Pushcart Prize in the distant past. One of the small press magazines that published my early work liked one of my stories and submitted it. While it was flattering, the publication was a tiny, low-paying horror-genre magazine, so the bank of stories that mine was chosen from was small - and the submission not taken all that seriously by anyone on either end (except perhaps by the editor who nominated it). I knew nothing about the prize itself. There was no internet upon which to research it. And the moment passed in the blink of an eye.

Flash forward 20 to 25 years. My story, "Nunavut Thunderfuck" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Exile Editions - and I was ecstatic. Why the big change in attitude?


Well, for one thing, I was able to research the Pushcart Prize and see how prestigious it is. Had I known that back in the 80s, I might have been more excited. The sobering counterpoint is that there are thousands of stories nominated every year. What makes this different for me is that, this time, my story was chosen from at least six books by one of Canada's leading literary publishers. One of those books was the Carter V. Cooper Short Fiction Anthology, featuring work by a number of writers I hugely admire including Leon Rooke, Bruce Meyer and Hugh Graham. And the other anthologies included work by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Kelly Robson, Corey Redekop, Simon Stranzas, Michael Mirolla, Catherine MacLeod and Candas Jane Dorsey. Managing to stand out in that crowd is the kind of accomplishment that makes my heart sing and restores my oft-wavering faith in my own abilities to craft good fiction.

It has been a good year - with stories in The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir (Eds: David Nickle and Claude Lalumiere), Black Treacle (Ed: A.P. Matlock) and The Colored Lens (Eds: Dawn Lloyd, Daniel Scott).  Next year is starting off promisingly, with a story I co-wrote with the inestimable Sally McBride getting picked up by the anthology Unbound II - Changed Worlds.

Even if the Pushcart nomination is the sum total of recognition I earn for this year's output - I am very proud of what I've accomplished - and I hope folks track down those publications and give them a read. There's lots of great work in all of them - and hey, I'm just pleased to be among them.



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