Since I sent messages to all the existing Writing Short Fiction contributors to say that ill health is forcing me to give up working on the site, a growing number of them have now replied in the kindest and most considerate terms, praising what the site has done and wishing me well for the future. A crusty old sod like moi is not always easily touched, but touched I am, and since most of you are amongst my Facebook friends, I hope you will accept my heartfelt thanks, both for your support for the site and your good wishes for me.
I’m also pleased to be able to say that there looks to be a chance that a well-qualified and motivated successor might be in the offing. I cannot go into details at this stage, because there’s still quite a lot of sorting out to do on it, but things are looking hopeful. However, I can assure everyone that no-one’s work is ever going to be used without their specific permission being given, as I’ve made clear to my potential successor.
The WSF site was set up partly as a result of my own early creative writing experiences. I came to fiction and poetry relatively late in life, and I think that has a lot to be said for it, partly because you’ve been around long enough to have stuff to write about and partly because you have enough wrinkles on your bum not to be too easily taken in by the sharks who feed in the waters where aspiring writers are splashing bravely about, and there are plenty of them, believe me. Dodgy self-publishing deals, dodgy courses, dodgy competitions. Am I going to name names and get sued for it? Am I hell as like. But don’t ever doubt they’re around. O.K., the worse that’s likely to happen is being ripped off for more quids than you can afford and the perpetrators are unlikely to find themselves banged up; it seems to be an area where monitoring and legislation is pretty thin on the ground. But it is a brutal and immoral act to prey on people’s aspirations, in this or any other walk of life, and buyer beware is very much the motto to follow. You will also have to deal with magazines with great screeds of breathtakingly arrogant ‘submission guidelines’ which seem to breathe their contempt for the people who are, when all’s said and done, sending them material for use in their magazines free of charge, as they almost invariably expect to get it all for free. You will have to deal with agents with little god complexes, who may or may not even bother to reply to your best efforts, and you will have to deal with rejections of all kinds – curt, indecipherable, pretentious or simply two liners expressing in only slightly longer form a well known Anglo Saxon term meaning ‘go away’.
So the more writers manage to work together and work for each other, the easier they are likely to make life for themselves. WSF was founded on the principle of exactly that, mutual co-operation, the successful and experienced lending a genuine and unexploitative hand to the new or aspirational writers, without site memberships, subscriptions, sales charges, whatever. For as long as I have a say in it, and I very much still do, that’s how WSF will stay.
In the meantime, my energies will be concentrated on my own writing, which I now cannot and hopefully will never have to abandon. I’m not a great user of social media, partly because, when you spend a lot of your time writing, you don’t necessarily look to spend your time out – erm – writing, but I will carry on blogging, both to blow my own trumpet, which seems to be what everyone does now, or sound off on stuff I care about in the way I just have. As for WSF, watch this space. Reports of its death may prove to have been greatly exaggerated.