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Breaking into Writing

How do you break into the literary world?  In an interview with Wired, Paolo Bacigalupi, tells us it’s 85% graft, 5% inspiration, and 10% reading lots of fantasy and SF magazines… sort of.  Here’s the relevant bit:

“Pocketful of Dharma” was the first story that I sold, and that was really my first attempt at writing something short.

I’d stalked William Gibson at one point at a book signing and had asked him what his secret to success was.  You know I was a very hungry, very needy sort of writer and was just looking for any kind of a clue about how the whole thing worked.  I sort of hovered over his shoulder while he was signing other people’s books.  I hit him with all of these questions and one of the things that he said was that he’d written short stories until somebody would take him seriously and that was when he managed to actually sell a novel.  So I sort of took that to heart and went home and sat down and was like: ‘OK, so I need to write a short story.  How the fuck do I do this?’

So I bought some science fiction magazines–fantasy and science fiction magazines and stuff– and read all of the short stories in them and went, ‘OK, I just need to write something better than any these things.’  I sat down and started banging away and eventually what I got was “Pocketful of Dharma.”

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