Short fiction is always a kind of red-headed stepchild of the publishing industry. Anthologies aren’t picked up by mass market publishing houses because they’re low on the marketable totem pole, print magazines are dying a laborious death, and online magazines don’t get the kudos they so often deserve. Advertisers seem constantly obsessed with novels, never-ending serial franchises with 100,000s of words crammed between the highly polished covers–bizarrely resisting a trend in the modern internet-soaked human brain for short attention spans. I’ve never really understood it.
While I may have a short attention span, that’s not necessarily why I love reading short fiction in magazines and anthologies. I subscribe to a kind of Poe-ian tradition in that the best reading, to my mind, is absorbed in one sitting and constructed artfully to create a unified mood that completely takes over the headspace of the reader for a short period of time. I think short stories accomplish an immersive experience way better than longer works because the limitations of the form naturally lend towards more vivid imagery, heavier atmosphere, and a delicious ambiguity of plot that amplifies the flavor much in the way a splash of lemon brightens up a slice of avocado. (Side note: I’ve recently become obsessed with Tajin classico seasoning, so much of my metaphorical thinking is flavored with lime.)
Anyway, while perusing through the March 2016 stories from Lakeside Circus, one of my favorite places for immersive short fiction (and happily, a place one of my stories has found a home at), I found they were registered at Patreon, a crowd sourcing platform that provides monthly reoccurring support for creators. I love this idea, not only because of the snobby academic associations of classic patronage, a means by which most of those canonical works in the English language were created, but because I can set up support for things I love without having to think too hard about it.
I’ve been a subscriber to Duotrope at $5 dollars a month for a couple of years now and, even though I don’t use their database all that much, I believe in the work it’s doing for writers and publishers. I also have been a big fan of Lakeside Circus since their inception, as they give a home to really high quality, literary short speculative fiction. I don’t submit short stories very often, mostly now because I’m concerned about working with publishers I’m proud to be seen in public with, and I am super thrilled to be associated with them at all. Now, I can help them with their mission with less than the cost of a cup of coffee per week! And, at that rate, I can support other magazines I love to read.
Already, I’ve committed support for Lakeside Circus, Clarkesworld and Apex Magazine, all publications that produce really high quality short fiction. I’m a subscriber to Shimmer magazine, too, another place for beautifully written spec fic, and if they were registered to Patreon, I’d sign up to support them, too. One of my other favorites, The Dark magazine, also promises they’re signing up with Patreon, and when that happens, I’ll add them to my list. And, even though my family does not have a lot of spare cash, this grand gesture that I can be proud of costs about the same amount as a couple of Starbucks coffees a month. Total win.
And yes, there is the implied message to all this that you–yes, YOU fair reader–should do the same for the stuff you love. Do it! There’s a lot of people out there who could stand to contribute to the communities they’re a part of, and there’s a lot of lonely little dollars that can lend towards making art that people can enjoy. I, for one, am going to enjoy a cup of French press coffee at home and a lot of beautiful short stories.