Despite the fact that we live in one of Earth’s most fertile environments for the cultivation of works of imagination, the East Bay Express has only knowingly published fiction a handful of times in the past 31 years. We’ve published just one short story during my eight years as editor, and my predecessor John Raeside says his only brush with fiction was a series of satirical stories by former contributor Alice Kahn. (No doubt we both also published a news story or two that turned out to be fiction, but let’s not dwell on that today.)
With the publication of this week’s cover story — the first 4,000 words of the novel Skip Tracer by Gordon Young — we’re opening our arms to a new type of writing. Starting today, we will publish the remainder of Gordon’s novel on our new fiction blog, We Made It Up. New installments will be published online each Monday and Thursday, starting tomorrow with the book’s second installment. Future installments will be significantly shorter than the one that appears in this edition of the newspaper.
And starting today, we also are accepting submissions from other writers of fiction who are willing to share their work with our readers. To contribute, send your work to Editor[at sign goes here]EastBayExpress.com. Writers whose works are accepted will be given access to our blogging interface so that they can publish their work directly on our web site.
I have long believed in the idea that Wired magazine Editor Chris Anderson popularized in his book The Long Tail. Simply put, it’s the notion that we have entered an era in which the Internet makes it possible for us to escape the distribution bottlenecks that once forced us to all read the same novels, listen to the same music, watch the same television shows, and buy the same products. Most of us know that there has always been more high-quality creative work than society’s major distribution channels could accommodate. But it’s only with the unlimited inventory made possible by the Internet that creators have a way to get their work into the hands of like-minded consumers.
That’s what we hope to do with our new fiction blog — to liberate some good writing that hasn’t yet found the audience it deserves. Ideally, our blog will blossom into a genuine fiction-writing community. Should that happen, I promise that we will find a way to bring that community together. But first, we need to figure out how this works. I hope the writers and readers among you will help us kick-start this experiment.