Where have I been, and on editing

Well, dear blog, I continue to be at best an unreliable correspondent, for which I apologise, as I always do. In truth, I doubt that this will change in the foreseeable future. We’re racing into the Christmas season and, as I’ve detailed before, I’m busy enough that anything that can slip by unnoticed probably shall. I am not pleased with this, but I acknowledge that it’s true. Were I more determined I would force myself to write more often. I would post links to reviews, recommend books, and so on and so forth, and yet I don’t. I hope the books and other work will prove enough. And please don’t feel as though I’m ignoring you to favour others. Yes, I said I’d review a Top 40 SF stories of all time for Locus, who I work with always, but I’ve not found the focus to do that. I also am going to write a little for Tor.com, but while I hope the writing will prove to be of substance, there’s not likely to be a lot of it.

I will tell you something that is on my mind, which I want to get on paper as much as anything else. As you know, I’ve been occupied in editing Eclipse for the past two years, and it’s been a rocky and far from simple process. I continue to work on it, and will do so until the publisher tells me to stop, and I do so for two reasons: the first is that I believe strongly in the stories I get to publish and the second is that I find I learn more about myself and my editing through that series of books than through anything else I do.

Why? Well, I don’t pretend to be an overly self-reflective person but the conversations that have gone on around Eclipse have made me question my opinions about SF and editing like nothing else. I fell into editing in a very natural and easy way. It wasn’t a plan, a career, or a vocation. It was something that was fun to do, that became more fun the more I did it. I now find I need to externalise and intellectualise what I’ve learnt and consider what I’ve not. Yes, this includes issues like inclusivity and gender balance, but it also includes things like what makes a good science fiction story, why a story is a good science fiction story, and the notion of honesty and truthfulness in editing.

I don’t yet know where these considerations and ruminations will end. I still feel, even as I race towards my 46th birthday and my 20th year as an editor, that I’m only starting out in this game. I feel like I only started in 2004, and everything that came before was mostly fun, so, for me at least, it’s new.

What does this mean for 2010 and the books I’m working on? Well, the thing I’d stress is that this is an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary process. I’m trying, quite deliberately now, to test all of my assumptions about science fiction and editing. Some of those assumptions will stand, some will fall, and some will change. I think the ‘best of the year’ volume I’m working on now will be only slightly different from its predecessors, while the 2010 volume (to be published in 2011) may be quite different. The original anthologies that are just delivered or are about to be delivered will be closer to what I’ve done in the past, but the ones in conception will be different. Eclipse Four, which is even now in its infancy will continue to be the laboratory for whatever it is I’ll do. And, slowly, it will all change. How? I’m working that out, and I’ll try to either explain it here or over at Tor.com in the coming year.

Is that it? I guess so. Except, go pre-order Holly Black’s short story collection, The Poison Eaters. I’m ridiculously excited about it.