Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Reflection Time

It's Insecure Writer's Support Group Day, and for this first Wednesday of the month we have a special reflection post as we get close to the end of the year and the end of our time writing about Dark Matter: Artificial anthology (Don't worry, there will be a new anthology coming up next!). Our authors share how this contest has changed them, what they've learned, how it will affect what they do as authors moving forward, the hardest parts about it all, and, of course, the best parts.

Kim Mannix - Rift 
Being a part of Dark Matter: Artificial has been my extreme pleasure and privilege. When I entered the contest, I was primarily writing poetry, and just dipping my toes into the sci-fi and dark fiction waters. Not only did being part of this great anthology give me a boost of confidence to continue writing short fiction, it's also connected me with some fantastic and supportive authors. I think people are often hesitant to enter big contests, or try to put their writing out in the world, but I encourage everyone to try. While I was personally attached to my story, "Rift," I wasn't sure that anyone else would like it, or consider it publishable. It's an example of why we, as writers, shouldn't let our self-doubt get the best of us. Taking chances can pay off in the best possible way.

Steph Wolmarans - The Utten Mission
I am so grateful for the experience of being published in the anthology. It is difficult to describe the transformation. "The Utten Mission" was my first published story and the first few months were full of confidence and pride.

The beginning of the journey—the editing phase—taught me important habits and knowledge I will carry with me forever. I became more motivated to write, hired a writing coach, and dove into my novel manuscript with renewed force. Inclusion in the anthology launched me into my dream of writing for others. Imagine if an alien race saw a lonely woman staring up at the stars holding a picture of a rocket and came to give her an actual spaceship so she could fly away to join them. It inspired me to create several stories and to join the A to Z Challenge on my blog. The experience erupted with positive energy. Writing about this now reminds me of the momentum that pulled me, yet saddens me a little.

Now to talk about the difficult part, which I hate to admit is still looming over me. Seeing reader feedback was the hardest part. The anthology had great reviews on Goodreads and Amazon from readers, but the comments for individual pieces (particularly my own) were a little painful. Despite being told personally by a few people that mine was a favorite, the tiny voice of insecurity crept in. It is embarrassing just how much it bothered me.

The confidence is returning and my drive to write is picking up. I hate that I wasted any time on feeling insecure. This is the Insecure Writer's Support Group for crying out loud! And what amazing support it has been! This group delivers support every time, and being a part of the anthology was the biggest gift I could dream of. This new network of writers around me is by far the best part!

Tara Tyler - Sentient
It's always exciting to connect with a prompt and have a story form in your head... Just submitting a complete short story by the deadline is a great feeling. But getting chosen for the anthology is the best! It's also a bit of responsibility with the marketing, but that part is worth it and can even be fun! I recommend everyone give it a shot--the more you write, the better you get, plus it can be a nice break from your WIP.

Deniz Bevan - One to Another
I loved being a part of this contest! It’s given me greater confidence in my writing, and I’ve loved being part of a group project--it’s lovely be a member of a collaborative project like this. I feel incredibly privileged to say that the hardest part was keeping up with all the fun promotional activities online! I hope that next time I’m in the United States, I can take part in an event in person!

Charles Kowalski - Resident Alien
"Resident Alien" was my first published work of science fiction, and I certainly hope not my last. The timing of this contest gave me the impetus to do something I had been wanting to do in the wake of the George Floyd incident: examine issues of racial justice by posing the question, “What if the entire human race together were an oppressed minority?”

It was difficult to write, but very rewarding. The writing process showed me what science fiction can do best: hold a mirror up to us, showing human nature from a different angle or from an outsider’s perspective. As Gene Roddenberry said of Star Trek, “There were civil rights and other social justice issues that were addressed, and the network didn’t mind because it wasn’t overt…If you talk about purple people or polka-dotted people on a far-off planet, the network never really caught on.” (1)
With all this in mind, I created a short story that I hope will be used as a teaching tool, with teaching materials to go with it (available here (2)). I also had the beginnings of a world, with its own distinctive history and languages, that I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to after one short story, so we may be seeing further adventures of humans on Ogygia. Upwards and onwards!



Elizabeth Mueller - Resurgence

Second time is the charm? The Dark Matter project hosted by IWSG has been a growth experience for sure since it was my second attempt at writing Sci-Fi. Before this, I'd been mulling over trying my hand at writing science fiction for a while and this has served as a boost of encouragement to attempt another story in the same genre. I'm working on a romance novel that takes place in the same universe and that has been a great ride! This is huge for me as I've broken from the fantasy world into realistic fiction (of which I've been dabbling in for the past several years).

I'd have to say that the hardest part of the Dark Matter tour is having to rack my brain for the interview questions--it's easier for me to hide behind my characters and let them have their fun. But the best part is meeting new people, making new friends, and working with my awesome publisher!

Mark Alpert - Vera’s Last Voyage
The publication of this short story has reminded me of the importance of trying new things and taking creative risks. Writing fiction is especially enjoyable when you're pushing the boundaries. My wife and I recently visited New Albany, Mississippi, the birthplace of William Faulkner, where I received an award from the William Faulkner Literary Competition. Faulkner was perhaps the greatest boundary-pusher of American fiction, a literary experimentalist whose novels are still amazing readers, and we can all take inspiration from his example.

You can find all these authors and stories in Dark Matter: Artificial, available on AmazonKobo, and Barnes and Noble.

Our next post will be on the last Insecure Writer's Support Group day of the year, Wednesday, December 1! In that wrap-up post, the IWSG Dark Matter contest winner will share her reflection of the year--how it started, and how it's going!