A Short Story About Self-publishing a Short Story Collection
Don’t be Embarrassed by Your Art
My fiction writing journey started in about 2018. Those were the “too much on the nose” days. The “you’re just using characters to ask philosophy questions,” days. I began seriously writing at the start of the pandemic. Post undergrad and pre-pandemic I moved back into my parent’s house. I was waiting to go to grad school, and I worked in private EMS (not 911) until I got accepted. I started living with my brother so I wouldn’t carry home COVID to my parents, and at night I would curl up in my brother’s basement with my laptop and write for hours. I finished that book and self-published it on Amazon within a year of the pandemic. It felt good, even though I couldn’t get any publisher to bite on the proposals I sent around. I doubt I am into the serious fiction writing stage, but in finishing a book and now a collection of short stories I feel much more comfortable sharing my writing, and feel that it has come a long way. This feeling prevents a lot of the anxiety associated with sharing your art, simply knowing you have progressed.
My main goal with writing fiction has always been to incorporate philosophy into it, so that the importance of these questions can be understood by people not interested in academic philosophy. Science demonstrates that people understand problems in stories better than if the problems are abstracted away from the story. Thought experiments attempt to capture this, but still lack definition and seem absurd. For instance, no one would have thought that the COVID mask and vaccine debate was something that would actually happen in the real world. Imagine a professor asking this thought experiment before the pandemic and being taken seriously: “Would it be better for billions of people to be uncomfortable for several hours a day from wearing a mask, or have millions die from a virus.” “Just an academic question!” some would have shouted before the pandemic. Patients were literally run under the wheels of the trolley when hospital staff took away their ventilator for another patient because they had a higher chance of surviving. These stories and problems have real relevance.
Which brings us to the short story collection that is currently available on Amazon (free until 7/31/2022). First, anyone willing to put forth a blurb to include on the Amazon page and on the back of the paperback can get a free PDF by request at branryanlong[at]gmail.com at any time.
So, what’s it about? Broadly, the collection is about technology and society. “That’s oddly broad.” Yes it is. The majority of the stories have to do with parasocial relationships with AI in medicine and private life (check out the amazon page for brief snippets of what each story is about). My experience in healthcare shaped much of my writings here, and how the already impersonal healthcare world will change with AI carebots is one of the most explored topics. Can we trust AI, and what will our relationship with them look like?
The collection also includes a novella, who’s relation to the other stories may at first seem unclear. However, this novella takes a close look at what modern media (specifically the true crime community) does to dialogue surrounding disappearance cases. Hours and hours of research was conducted for this novella, and it really can be seen as a historical fiction. The story follows a true crime reporter through the jungle of Panama as he examines evidence from a disappearance case (evidence the entire internet has access to). Through this evidence he forms a kind of relationship with the victims. What this relationship is, and how authoritative the public can be with this evidence is what the main character must contend with.
I appreciate all the support, financial and emotional, that I have received that put me in the position to even sit down long enough and say something.