One of my ongoing literature projects is to read every short story by the late great Theodore Sturgeon. I have a number of the books in the series from North Atlantic Books that collects all his short fiction and am slowly working through them. My original plan was to read a story a day, but I haven’t maintained that pace. It’s more like one or two a week, but still it continues. My goal here is that by reading all his stories in approximately composition order I will gain a greater insight into his work as an author, his growth as an artist as well as getting the treat of reading works of his that I had never encountered before.
Currently I am still early in Volume 1. Any aspiring author in the fantastic literatures should consider at least reading this first volume because it contains a fascinating and motivating insight. As wonderful a writer as Sturgeon was – and I’ll go out on a limb and say that he was the best short story writer in SF ever – many of his early stories sucked. Right now I’m in the section of the book that contains a number of unpublished works and you can tell why they weren’t published. But here’s the motivational part: he started with stories that read like they came out of any workshop or critique group or college course and he worked and worked and honed his craft until his stories were gems. Even in the era of science fiction when the fashion was plot and idea driven gadget stories, Sturgeon wrote fiction full of characters that felt like real people with whom you could form emotional attachments. And, young writers, he wrote dozens of stories not much better than yours. There is hope for you, as long as you have what it takes to sit your ass in a chair and write your guts out every day whether you feel like it or not. After ten or twenty years of work you might even get in this league.