Chasing Comets: Retiring from Science Fiction

I decided that I wanted to be a science fiction writer sometime late in 1992, and I wrote and submitted my first stories in early 1993. In the 23 years since, I’ve lost count of the stories I’ve written, the number of submissions I’ve made, the number of rejections I’ve received. In that 23 year period, I sold 11 stories, and twice as many pieces of nonfiction.

Over the last year or so, my interest in science fiction has waned. While the most recent stories I’ve sold have had elements of science fiction, they are not essential to the story. I haven’t read the science fiction magazines in a long time; I rarely pick up a new science fiction book these days. This has nothing to do with the genre, and everything to do with how my interests have evolved over time.

At the same time, I’ve been having a blast with my blog writing—when I can find the time to do it. The blog writing does not pay in the same way that science fiction writing does, but money was never my primary driver for writing. I write because I enjoy it.

Then, too, my science fiction stories, while good enough to be published in the pro magazines, never made waves. And while I firmly believe that with enough practice, I could continue to improve my craft to a point where I am better equipped to write good stories, I can no longer afford the time that would be required to make these improvements.

I am not giving up writing, but I am acknowledging that there is some writing that I am no longer interested in doing. I’ve done my best, and made it farther than I thought possible back when I started. But, like a pitcher who no longer has command or speed, it’s time for me to call it a day. There are other things I want to do.

I want to spend more time with my kids. “Daddy, why are you always working?” the Little Miss said to me this weekend, when I was typing away at the computer. I had no good answer for her. I feel guilty each time my kids ask me to play, and I tell them it will have to wait.

I plan to continue writing about the things that interest me here on the blog, although I suspect you won’t see me writing much about writing; or science fiction. Those are subjects that I have covered more than enough. I also plan to continue writing nonfiction pieces as the opportunities to do so arise.

None of this is to say that I am giving up science fiction forever. I find that my interests are cyclical. Some of those cycles are short, like the period of the moon’s rotation around the earth. Others are much longer, like a comet that passes by once in a century. I can’t predict when, or if, this particular comet will return, but if it does, I’ll look to hop on for a ride.

I wasn’t sure I should even write a post about this, or if I should just fade out the scene without much fuss. I decided to write the post because I have made a lot of friends in the science fiction world; friends that I am lucky to have; friends that I hope to keep, despite my retirement from the genre.

5 thoughts on “Chasing Comets: Retiring from Science Fiction

  1. Gotta follow your bliss, Jamie, and if that bliss means that, for now or even for longer, you leave the lands of science fiction, then that is that. Doesn’t mean that we still can’t be friends 😉

  2. Follow your heart. I really enjoy reading your blog and suspect your kids will enjoy having more time with you. They grow up fast, and you can always go back to writing science fiction and the time away will have only made you even better. Who knows…you might even discover a whole new writing muse that you never dreamed of.

  3. Wait, you write fiction too?!? 🙂 FWIW, I’ve never thought of you as a science fiction writer (I’m learning not to typecast), but as a writer who happens to have written some science fiction on occasion. I suspect the words will still bubble up at some point, no matter what shade of writing they get shoehorned as. In the meantime, we’ll all still be here reading your blog. What, you thought we came for the hors d’oeuvres?

  4. Do what’s right for you. That changes with time — and you might find it changes with your kids’ ages, too. As they get older, you might find that science fiction is something you can share with them. You might not.

    Regardless, I’ll still enjoy your blog.

  5. I missed this, until you linked to it in your “transitional notes” post. I have mixed feelings, since I got to know you primarily as a genre author. I support your decision, of course, because as someone now waiting to see if he ever has grandchildren I know full well that family time is here and gone.

    Wishing you only and always the best,

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