Saturday, June 27, 2015

Quick Thoughts - Be the Change

It's creeping up on my six month anniversary for Quick Sip Reviews, and as such I will have some stat-posts at some point to geek out about numbers and such. For now, though, looking forward to that, I want to take a moment and think through some things. Namely, hurrah, I've made it to six months (almost). I have reviewed a lot of things and grown traffic to the site month after month (not hugely, but it has increased). So that's good. But also, why the hell I'm doing this.

I think I started this because of a Twitter conversation that I had seen where some writers were speaking of the need for more short fiction reviews. The only place that really reviews whole issues of stories is Tangent, they said, and Tangent is…not always what it could be. Not that it's all bad, but Tangent is normally (in my mind) a little too focused on plot and genre. I, personally, kind of hate talking about genre unless it is to speak to how a story might subvert genre expectations. I've written about genre here before, though, so I won't go more into that now. Just so that it's clear that I had some frustrations about what I could find in short fiction reviewing with places that review whole issues.

Now, there is a lot of great short fiction reviewing going on. There are tons of incredibly talented people out there writing about short speculative fiction. I agree, though, that the reviews can be a little tilted toward a few stories a month, the ones that get the most attention. These are the "best of" columns (and hey, I do one, too, so I can't complain about them). They are amazing resources, but it does hurt a bit to be left off those lists. To know that your story was passed up in favor of another, perhaps one in the same publication. Not that it's a bad thing, necessarily, but I can understand the frustration that writers feel when you get something out (finally, after much work) only to have your story be ignored. Or, worse, for the only review you see to be a line or two long.

[ASIDE: As a writer I find that this happens and that it is SO frustrating! I want to know what people think of my story, what to know that people might be engaging with a story. To finally get a story out and have someone saw "Only an okay story" and that's it is rather…well, it doesn't feel good. I never want to be that person that is supposed to be taking time to think about a story and only have "well, it was a story" to say about that. In my opinion, that is failing as a reviewer. Sometimes I can forgive someone who is reviewing an awful lot of stuff, because I understand how much time it takes, but I've had reviews of my stories where the main thrust of the review is talking about the genre and how my story wasn't really horror and…again, I hope I am never guilty of that. Which informs how I review. I review as I want to be reviewed. Not always positively, but with an attempt at honest engagement. END ASIDE]

So, in the vein of "Be the change you want to see in the world" I decided to start doing more reviews. And…well, I've had to adjust down a little what I can get to, but I still manage to do about 18-20 publications a month and I think that's pretty good. Of course, I feel like I'm barely keeping up even with the rather limited number of places I review, and I apologize that I can't review more, but I do what I can. I wish there was a me that got paid to do this, in which case I would review, like, everything. But alas, this is a labor of love (and also craft, because it probably doesn't hurt my writing that I read so much), and as such it is limited by the resources I have to give. I try. Please know that I try. But I will never be able to get to everything I want.

So why am I doing this? Because I like to. I genuinely do like reading and engaging with stories. It helps that there are so many very talented writers out there. I also do this because I feel like I can and so I should. Like with writing, there's probably some amount of arrogance involved, that belief that I can do good by telling stories, by reviewing stories. But it's what I hope. I wish everyone would review everything that they read. That they would think critically about everything that they read. I think the world would be a better world if everyone did that and I want to live in that world. So that's what I try to do. Indeed. Thanks for reading!

All the best,

Charles Payseur


  1. Your efforts on this front are very much appreciated! I've been trying to make more of an effort to talk about the things I'm reading myself -- so much creative work feels like shouting into the void, I figure the least I can do is let folks know when I've enjoyed something of theirs!

    1. Indeed and thank you! I feel that more people talking about what they read and what they like is the best way to find great things to read. I love discussing books because that's how I typically find many of things that I end up really enjoying reading. And it typically makes people think about why they like things, which too often people leave unexamined, which I feel is a shame. If we don't question our own likes and dislikes, it often means we overlook stories that will really surprise us. Or, at least, that's what I've found is true of me since I've made the effort to more engage what I read.