The Joy of the Best Idea Ever: Catching up with Altered Fluid

In August, I interviewed some of the members of Altered Fluid, a fiction critique group in New York. During the initial conversation we focused on the nature of revising fiction as a group. If you want to know more on that topic check out “Even the Best Stories Have Flaws” in the August 2010 issue of the Hugo Award-winning Clarkesworld Magazine. Meanwhile, the member of Altered Fluid talk about what they enjoy about writing fiction.

Brief bios of the authors appear after the interview.


What do you enjoy about writing?


MERCURIO D. RIVERA: Having written. The process itself can be torture, but the final product — if you’re lucky enough to have created something special — is absolutely exhilarating.

N. K. JEMISIN: Revising. It’s actually my favorite part of the process. That’s when the lump of coal I’ve written transforms miraculously, and starts to get a little sparkly. Two or three revisions later, I realize I actually can write.

MATTHEW KRESSEL: For me, it’s the pure power of creation. I can create a world — any world — with just a few words. That’s a powerfully sexy thing.

ALAYA DAWN JOHNSON: The idea. Wow, there are few moments as awesome as that rush of creativity I feel when I get The Best Idea Ever. Except maybe finishing a novel.

DEVIN POORE: All of it. I love the uninhibited first draft, where you just put it all down. Then the editing where you pick and choose what works, trim it and move it around like clay until you get something you like. The best, though, is finishing something, putting it away for a few weeks or months, and then coming back to it and not recognizing it as something I wrote; realizing that the written word can take on a life outside of the writer’s input.

PAUL M. BERGER: Lately I’ve found that I’m especially attracted to fine-tuning a complicated piece, trying to find subtle ways for all the elements to match or connect. But maybe that’s just a phase I’m going through (or a complicated procrastination strategy). Generally, I agree with those who say the result is more rewarding than the process.

E. C. MYERS: Because I usually don’t outline, I discover my stories as I write them. So I enjoy the way my subconscious mind shapes the story in surprising ways or takes it in a direction that I couldn’t have planned at the beginning. Like Nora, the real writing for me happens in revision. And revision. And revision.

SALADIN AHMED: The groupies and vast sums of money involved. Heh. More seriously, I love the way a finished piece of writing creates a line of communication with the reader. Knowing — or even hoping — that someone, somewhere, will connect with this thing you’ve made as you’ve sat alone at your computer for hours on end — that’s an indescribably wonderful feeling for me.

N. K. JEMISIN: Wait, there are groupies?


Saladin Ahmed’s fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, IGMS, Clockwork Phoenix 2, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. His novel Throne of the Crescent Moon is forthcoming from DAW Books.

Paul M. Berger’s writing has appeared in Fantasy Magazine, Strange Horizons, Interzone, Escape Pod, and Weird Tales, among other places.

N.(ora) K. Jemisin is the author of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and the forthcoming The Broken Kingdoms. Her Clarkesworld short story, “Non-Zero Probabilities,” was nominated for the Hugo Award.

Alaya Dawn Johnson is the author of the novels Moonshine, Racing the Dark, and its sequel The Burning City. Her fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Interfictions 2 and the forthcoming Zombies vs. Unicorns.

Matthew Kressel’sThe History Within Us” appeared in Clarkesworld and the “The Suffering Gallery” will appear in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. He is the publisher of Sybil’s Garage and the co-host of the Fantastic Fiction reading series at KGB with Ellen Datlow.

E.(ugene) C. Myers’ fiction has appeared in Sybil’s Garage No. 7 and will appear in a forthcoming issue of Shimmer Magazine. His first young adult novel, Fair Coin, is on submission with publishers.

Devin Poore is an assistant editor and non-fiction contributor to Sybil’s Garage, and a writer of short stories and novels in which the world isn’t quite as it should be.

Mercurio D. Rivera is a frequent contributor to Interzone with stories also appearing or forthcoming in Unplugged: The Web’s Best SF and Fantasy for 2008, Black Static, Nature, Electric Velocipede, Abyss & Apex and elsewhere.

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