Showing posts from October, 2018

Never is the Best Time to Give Up

Growing up, I was convinced that there was a curse, condemning men in my family to accidental deaths before the age of 40 (it had held true for generations). While bargaining with God for extra years,  I didn’t want to be greedy.  My literary idol, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, had died at 61. That would give me time to make my mark on the world, and seemed eons away. Alright then...61. Having survived suicidal urges and heavy drinking in my late teens; a two pack a day cigarette habit and a chronic illness in my 20s; and major surgery and life upheaval in my 30s, I came roaring up to 40 with fire in my eyes, and damned if I didn’t cruise straight on through. Which was brilliant, since my writing career was just gathering steam.   I had just published a couple of award-nominated stories and gotten into some cool anthologies, in the pages with some of my literary heroes. I was publishing and editing TransVersions, teaching a prestigious creative writing course and being invited as

Is This the End of the Genre Ghetto?

The Tradition of the Genre Ghetto As much as I’ve always wanted the respect that “literary” writers get, I’ve always lived on the outskirts. Denying that I was a genre writer was pointless. But from the 70s through the 90s it was a bit like saying I grew up in a trailer park. Admitting I wrote horror painted a picture of a trailer so far out in the sticks that you can only get there when the ground is frozen. In the literary world, genre has always been a dirty word. It has a recognized place in children’s lit and YA, but we were always expected to outgrow fantasy-adventure stories before we started university. Adult fantasy, horror, and science fiction (and even romance) was the sort of stuff we were expected to be embarrassed about, like watching porn or wearing adult diapers.   Since I was a kid, genre books aways occupied shelves on the outer perimeter or at the very back of book stores, hidden away from the traffic lanes. The Coming of the Paradigm Shift But recent

The Guru of Failure

Since my tweet about the Zen of Failure is showing some real legs on Twitter, and my blog posts about failure keep getting visitors, I’m growing concerned. Do I really want to gain a rep as the Guru of Failure? “Oh yeah, Dale Sproule, that failure guy.” Nice. I need to remember that in the end, it’s about finding success through failure. My failures are a big part of the credentials I bring to the table. How could I speak authoritatively about failure if I hadn’t frequently come away from endeavors battered and pummeled, bloodied and demoralized, crushed and spindled and broke.”   Nobody is interested in my List of Woes – nor should they be. Because the useful and interesting part of this whole exercise is the climbing-back-up part. The part where you take what you learned from the failure and use it to beat your oppressors about the head and shoulders until they cry out, “Okay, fine. You may sit at our table.” And they put you at the far end, on one of the kids chairs, wit

The Process of Writing

Writing is Easy Unless you’ve studied engineering, you probably couldn’t build a ten story building, and no one would give you the resources to let you try. Unless you’re an experienced coder who knows something about user interfaces, you’re unlikely to unilaterally create a new computer app that anyone would want to (or could) use. You might come up with a great idea, but by the time you gain the skills necessary to turn it into something useful and readily available, someone else will have done it first, and probably better. Hard skills – from driving big trucks to brain surgery – are not easy to fake. So when you’re unemployed or unhappy in your job and you’re looking for some sort of outlet for your energies, you may start tallying up your skills and think, “Oh this skill isn’t current” or “I haven’t done that since college.”   But writing? Now there’s something we can all do! Hundreds of thousands of us write on a daily basis, we are all taught how to write in grade scho

That So-called Literary Legacy and Three Bucks Will Buy You a Coffee

Transversions and Everything After In the mid-1990s, Sally McBride and I dreamed up, published and edited a well-known and respected small press magazine called TransVersions: Literature of the Fantastic . Over the course of six years, we were fortunate to publish stories by new authors and established pros. Being one of the highest profile genre magazines publishing poetry, we received a wonderful offer from Governor-General Award winning poet and Canadian SF icon, Phyllis Gotlieb to become our poetry editor. Over the course of 11 issues, we published stories by a pretty impressive list of authors, including  Gemma Files - author of Experimental Film ; David Nickle – author of Eutopia and Volk ;  Jeff Vandermeer – author of Annihilation and the Southern Reach trilogy; James Sallis – author of Drive ;  Robert J. Sawyer – author of Flash Forward ; and over 100 others. Many of our contributors went on to great success (Sallis and Sawyer were already well known), with books

The Trouble with Modern Media

180 years ago, a British fellow named Charles Dickens wrote some books. Over the decades and centuries, those books have been studied by millions of students around the world, they have been in libraries and been translated into many languages. If you found the original manuscript to any of those books, aside from being able to sell them for a fortune, you would still be able to read them. Sure the ink has probably faded in some places, the paper is fragile, and the cursive script they were written in is finally starting to become obsolete – but they would still be accessible to the majority of English speaking readers. About two years ago, while putting together a collection of my short stories, I attempted to find the first draft of a story I wrote in the 1990s – a mere 20 years ago. I had saved the first draft on a 5 inch floppy disc – the most popular transportable medium of the time. As that format quickly became obsolete, I copied my story archive onto 3 ½ inch

Avenging Glory Website in the Works

I've added a page to this blog to let everyone know that an  Avenging Glory  Website is on its way. And hopefully to give you an idea of what to expect from it. I hope to have fun with it in a way that hasn't been possible on most of my other websites. I intend for it to be more interactive, and have a few ideas about getting people to participate. My  Razorwings website in the 1990s featured an attempt  at turning my story into a graphic novel. The biggest problem was that it took about 10 minutes to load the entire website and two minutes more to open each individual page after that. I can take the optimist's view and say I was way ahead of my time - or I can own up and admit,  I was in way over my head . It was a nice idea that had huge problems. Not the least of which was being a mediocre artist working in a new medium (primarily photography and Photoshop and trying to use that medium to tell a bigger story than it was capable of telling at the time.