By the way, this will be the last in the Silverfish New Writing series. We have decided to stop here. There will be no Silverfish New Writing 8, nor anymore after that in the foreseeable future. To all those who have contributed in the past, thank you for making the series an unqualified success.Very very sad. These short story collections have been extremely valuable to local writers - and I'd include myself in that (and editing Collateral Damage was a tremendous experience). There are some really heartfelt comments on the post and I really sympathise.
As Deepika Shetty points out there's a funny kind of irony here. I was sitting with her on her veranda at the Honeymoon Guesthouse in Ubud a couple of mornings and we were talking about the series and how it had given so many writers - including myself - a start.
Sharanya Manivannan got her start as a published writer with a piece in the anthology I edited (though it would only have been a matter of time before she broke through somewhere).
And I was on cloud nine after going to Mohammad Cohens' book launch for Hong Kong on Air during the Ubud Festival (left): the first chapter had appeared as "an extract from a work in progress" and it was the first piece of fiction he had had published, a validation that he tells me he is still grateful for.
Repeat this story through the other collections - the grateful writers who got a break, who knew their work was worth something because the book itself was worth something; the unsuccessful writers who kept reaching higher because the collection set the bar, and perhaps after some time reaching it.
As Deepika says:
I'm sure the reasons for this are sound. Publishing isn't for the faint-hearted and Raman did open so many possibilities for aspiring authors, some of whom are now full-fledged novelists. And for that he deserves to be applauded. I do hope that someone will see the potential of such a publication and continue what he so bravely started.I don't know the reason behind the decision but will have a chat to Raman and find out. And perhaps there is some way to keep this anthology going, or begin to something along the same lines. We need it.
Raman says the series hasn't achieved what he wanted it to achieve when he started the project. I didn't press further 'cos I didn't want to hear any more about how terribly disappointing Malaysian writers are. And anyway, I don't believe it.
Amir Muhammad's take on the matter. Amir was the editor for Silverfish New Writing 1. He describes the move to discontinue the series as:
... an impoverishing one ...but reckons the series would have been much stronger if the focus had remained on Malaysian and Singaporean writers.
And yes, as Amir says, Raman has probably got the next plan for world literary domination up his sleeve!
From another editor, Robert Raymer, on Raman's blog:
I do hope you reconsider. This series has been a great inspiration for a lot of writers. It's the carrot on a stick that I hold out for my creative writing students (this semester I'm even teaching a class for lecturers), that by completing their story and rewriting it later they have somewhere to sumbit it too, by March 31th. That deadline gets them going! Several of my students have in fact been published in the Silverfish Series (2 in SF6!). I know I have personally benefited, both in my stories being accepted (four including two in SF7!) and also as one of the editors (SF4) who has had the pleasure of discovering some talented writers (including at least two who have popped up in SF7!