a nameless (and blameless) editor said...
"Sigh. I have been irritated by these comments on this blog and only wonder what the motive could possibly be. Will some people never learn?This is not the day of Flannery O'Connor or F. Scott Fitzgerald or whoever your heroes happen to be. Their day is past. You probably don't use a typewriter to draft your stories, either. In case you haven't noticed, literature is more or less an academic industry now and the MFA has become its gold standard, even outside of the so called "ivory tower"; almost every literary agent under 30 has an MFA. You expect to be taken seriously without one? Think about it, people.I hold a fiction editor post at an upper tier journal. While we are technically open to anyone, I do have to wonder about those outside academia who are submitting. I have to question your motive.
And I'll tell you why my serious attention is given to submissions that come from an MFA graduate or student. First, because it shows dedication: he or she is serious about the writing craft; this person has decided to make the craft his or her professional career. Second, because it shows that a qualified authority has also seen at least some ability in this person's writing, and is guiding them appropriately. But there is also an unavoidable third reason. As a teacher my salary does comes from student tuition, and I say with confidence that all teachers in my position realize this. It behooves us to support the very system that keeps us going, so common sense says to pay closer attention and give extra support to those who are part of it. You don't have to have the MFA yet, but as long as you're working on it, it shows that you're serious.
Even if you choose to ignore me, think of the practical considerations, people. If you don't have an MFA or aren't working on one, I have to ask: what are you doing??? This is an academic journal of new writing; almost everyone who reads it is teaching writing or somehow connected to the "ivory tower".
Among journals, we are among the more generous; besides the token copies and discounts, we pay $20 per page for literary fiction. It usually works out to around $200 for an accepted story. This is a nice perk, but if you're not a student, you're simply taking these funds away from those emerging or established professionals they were intended for. Surely you don't expect to survive on acceptance monies alone!"
Dude: First, why blameless? I don't even get that; you must feel guilty about something. Second, I don't have an MFA, and I have won your upper-tier journal's literary contest, or at least I've been a runner-up in several just like yours. And if you are the Iowa Review (which I know you're not because D.H. would never write such classist drivel), I've been a finalist for your fiction award. Readers: I say it's worth all the money I laid out for those academic review contests, every cent, because the conests are blind, and it never mattered that I didn't have an MFA, and now I get to shove it in this nameless editor's face (not my usual style, but justified, I think). Also, I say this: it's a pretty sad state of affairs when editors of well-established academic journals admit that they would rather publish work by their own (or other) MFA students, than publish good writing. Period.
The death of fiction: case closed.