Vision: A Resource for Writers
Lazette Gifford, Editor
Vision@sff.net
Holly Lisle's Vision

Meet the Moderators:
James Milton

By James Milton

2002, James Milton

Non-fiction Moderator James Milton is an Australian, born in Brisbane -- a wonderful city to grow up in, retaining, at that time, the charm of a small city with all the facilities expected from the capital of Australia's fastest-growing state.

A childhood love of science -- particularly astronomy, archaeology and paleontology -- misled him into thinking he would be a scientist.  But when he discovered the sheer fun of writing and the wonders of giving someone pleasure through the incantatory magic of words on paper, he was lost. When he stumbled upon Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine at the age of thirteen, followed in quick succession by the novels of Asimov, Heinlein, Edgar Rice Burroughs, William Hope Hodgson, Clark Ashton Smith, and others, he realized exactly which nation of the written word he was lost in: science fiction and fantasy.

He bought a cheap typewriter and taught himself to type, and through adolescence earnestly pursued publication, sending dreadful short story after dreadful short story to every unfortunate editor in North America.  

By senior high school, his family had moved to country north-west Queensland.  In the mining town of Mount Isa -- permanently swathed in clouds of sulfur dioxide, rocked regularly by underground explosions -- he began  receiving "positive" rejections (no thanks, but please send more). After a move to coastal North Queensland, he placed two short stories with Aurealis, the Australian magazine of fantasy and science fiction.

An attempt to join the Queensland police service failed on the grounds of bumping-into-walls blindness, and led to an unexpected library career in the world's most dreadful library...Whereupon he stopped writing.   

Eight years of grinding mediocrity later, it finally dawned on him that he was choking to death on unfulfilled dreams.  He began writing again, enrolled in a course taught by Amy Sterling Casil and joined a great group of talented, supportive fellow students.  Still, writing remained a struggle.  

Suddenly hospitalised, he underwent ten hours of emergency surgery then almost died of complications.  Five weeks in hospital, two brushes with death, and he finally got the message: memento mori.  Every life ends in a full stop.  In the absence of action, every dream dies.

Recovering, he started pursuing his dreams as if they mattered.  He found Forward Motion, adored the work ethic there, the support, and the generosity. Through the classes, he encountered Sheila Viehl, whose guidance and stunning generosity led to the submission of his first novel proposal to BBC Books in the United Kingdom.  Now, he is at work on a young adult fantasy titled Touching God.

Considering it is an audience he never considered until recently, he has a ridiculous number of young adult novel ideas in the pipeline.

If he were arrogant enough to offer advice to other new writers, it would be this:

Ignore naysayers.  Ignore self-doubt.  Do not fall for the charlatans who tell you that you must commune with the Angels of Art in order to write.  Who you are is enough.  What you do is enough. Mere existence grants you the right to run your dream to the ground and grapple it by the throat.  Do it.  You have no time for crap.  Write without fear.  Finish no matter what.  Send.