A Counter Craft Year-End Roundup
What I published in 2022, here and elsewhere
Hi all, I hope I’m not interrupting your cookie baking, eggnog chugging, saccharine holiday movie binging, or other year-end relaxation plans. But since we’re reaching the end of 2022, I thought I’d do a little year-end look back at another year in Counter Craft.
This newsletter started as a small side hobby, but has grown into the place I publish most of my non-fiction. I’m truly honored by how many people subscribe and, of course, especially appreciate those of you with paid subscriptions. I continue to publish all articles for free initially and only paywall the older articles. I’m one of those writers who pays his bills with writing (and teaching) so the more I make here means the more time I can devote to, well, writing here. Obligatory subscribe button:
2022 was easily the busiest teaching year I’ve ever had, yet I’m proud to have still published this newsletter multiple times a month as well as some pieces in other venues.
Counter Craft in 2022
I continued my series of craft-focused interviews with:
Matt Bell (for his craft book Refuse to Be Done)
Alexander Chee (a reprint from a now defunct literary website)
Chandler Klang Smith (about writing with AI programs)
Vauhini Vara (for her novel The Immortal King Rao)
Elisa Gabbert (for her poetry collection Normal Distance)
Selected Craft Essays
Overall, I published over 30 articles in this newsletter this year. Here are a few highlights in the fiction craft category:
Clearing Up the Clutter: On Removing "Trite Physicality" from Stories
Character vapor, pointless movements, and furniture moving in fiction
Worldbuilding and the Whims of History: Quick thoughts on Game of Thrones, the Mongolian Empire, and putting chaos in your worldbuilding
The One Rule of Fiction Writing: a writing rule for authors who don't want to follow rules
Conflict Is Only One Way to Think About Stories: Some conflicting feelings on conflicts in literature
Some Other Literary / Publishing Essays
I’m not sure there’s a clear line between my craft essays and non-craft essays, but the above are the kinds of specific craft ideas I advance in creative writing classes while the below are more general essays on publishing, genre, and the state of literature.
Notes on the Speculative Epic: Why does the multi-genre, multi-timeline, sweeping novel speak to today?
The Only Sure Thing with AI Is Writing Will Get Blander and the Rich Will Get Richer: AI programs aren't about to replace novelists. But that doesn't mean they won't damage writers.
What We Lose When We Lose Literary Magazines: an ode to lit mags and some suggestions for fixing them
Data Won't Save Art: More thoughts on book sales, publishing data, and algorithmic culture
Lastly, I wrote a newsletter on the viral claim that most traditionally published books only sell 12 copies that had a really robust discussion in the comments including actual BookScan data from Kristen McLean. So if you read it, make sure to read the comments.
My 2022 Writing Elsewhere
If you’re a fan of my writing here, perhaps you’ll also be interested in checking out my writing elsewhere. First, my 2021 novel The Body Scout—cyberpunk! noir! baseball! body horror!—came out in paperback and also in Turkey.
I published three new short stories this year—which are “awards eligible” if you’re a SFF awards voter:
Lightspeed: “Cale and Stardust Battle the Mud Gobblers of Hudson Valley,” a near-future science fiction story about millennial homeowners, climate change, and terrifying mud gobblers.
One Story: “From the Comfort of Your Own Home,” a speculative story about a virtual reality writing retreat.
Outlook Springs: “Hansel and Gretel’s Teeth” (print only), an anti-capitalist fairy tale about dental hygiene.
And then my gonzo space opera story “Duchy of the Toe Adam” was reprinted in the excellent SFF anthology Terraform: Watch/Worlds/Burn edited by Brain Merchant and Claire L. Evans. The anthology is chock full of great writers like Jeff VanderMeer, Omar El Akkad, Elvia Wilk, Cory Doctorow, Tochi Onyebuchi, and a bunch of others. Check it out! (This story will also—by the grace of some future editor—appear as a story within the story of the new novel I’m finishing up.)
I published most of my non-fiction here, but here are the few essays and reviews I published in journals:
Esquire: Everything Everywhere All in One Novel (an elaboration on the “speculative epic” idea in contemporary SFF)
Uncanny: The Future in the Flesh: Why Cyberpunk Can’t Forget the Body
New York Times: a review of How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu
New York Times: a review of Saha by Cho Nam-Joo
Lit Hub: The Pulpy, Rollicking, Resonant Early Sci-Fi of John Wyndham
The last item is a reprint of my introduction to the Modern Library’s edition of Stowaway to Mars, which is part of a big reissuing of Wyndham’s work with introductions from Kelly Link, Jeff VanderMeer, Alexandra Kleeman, and Kate Folk that have truly gorgeous covers from Anders Nislen.
And… that’s it I think! There will be a lot more next year, including a new Lightspeed story dropping sometime in January, a graphic adaptation of one of my stories, and, well, a whole lot more Counter Craft articles.
See you all in 2023, I hope.
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Such a busy year, Lincoln! Wishing you a happy and restful holiday.