Friday, January 30, 2009

What Would We Do If People Didn't Summarize?


Phew! As you know, a post about Agni stirred up a bee's nest of comments the other day. Luckily, for those who do not want to read the thread, someone posting as "Billy Bob Loser" summed the whole thing up as follows:

"Here's what I've taken from this very very long thread.

1. Many people are obtuse.

2. Publishing in zines is a hobby. An expensive, time-consuming, not-very-fulfilling hobby.

3. You should write a novel if you want to make a living and be recognized professionally by anyone other than your mother.

4. The Short Story is Dead. Dead culturally, dead financially, dead professionally, dead, dead, dead. It's a practice, an exercise, a staging grounds. But you do it for arts sake. Because it's beautiful. If you can't handle that oxymoron (dead but you still love it) you shouldn't be writing them.

5. Everyone prizes the top 25 mags, but no one can get published in them (answer: try the top fifty lit Js, or top seventy-five lit Js).

6. I'm the guy that submitted 600 times in the last 4 years. I'm not going to quit. But most of those were to the top fifty lit Js. I've broken in a few times to lower-level print journals. But no big boys yet. But I have a threshold -- I don't publish in online journals. Only print journals with decent websites affiliated with a university. Did you catch that:

A. Print.
B. Good Website.
C. University Affiliated.

99% of my submissions fall under those categories. That kills about 2500 of the journals in Duotrope. But that still leaves about 75 I would be very happy to appear in. I'll get in someday."

Very sensible, Bob.  Very sensible indeed.  Also, sir, please send me some of your 600 rejections.  You're a man after my own heart because I will never quit either.

69 comments:

nate said...

Art doesn't thrive when its unacknowledged and unknown. Art always has to be a product of its times. Art has to be viewed to have an effect. So the idea of writing stories in obscurity for the sake of the "art" just doesn't wash with me. If you don't care who reads what you are trying to communicate, then why should anyone ever care what it is you are communicating?

But then, writing 250-word Blog entries for Conde Nast or Elizabeth Spiers or whatever all day doesn't seem very artistically rich either.

I just hope John doesn't derail this new thread by pointing out how his zine "hobby" is actually very fulfilling, and that it is bringing him along very well in his career. He has published more stories than any of you last year, and one was nominated for a Pushcart, you know.

John said...

There are several problems with that post, though. On the earlier thread it was pointed out that the assertion about submitting to zines being expensive was incorrect; your e-mail comes with your ISP fee and is there if you use it or not, or you can get a free account from gmail. Postal submissions run almost $5 for a 25-page sub (1.50 postage, .43 SASE postage, .50 paper and envelopes, 1.75 ink; then figure in gas, time, and hassle for the trip to the post office.) Billy Bob, by his account, has spent up to $3000 over the past 4 years on nothing. Folks spend far less on model airplanes, and have the model airplanes to show for it. Who's got the expensive hobby?

Also, I'm not sure about this idea of breaking into -- wait for it -- academic journals, where you can appear alongside T.C. Boyle and Joyce Carol Oates. In other words, we're talking about a static, idealized goal not necessarily related to reality. Is this stuff you want to read?

Third, he says the short story is dead. The conventional wisdom, at least, says this isn't the case: with hundreds of markets publishing conventional short stories as well as variations like flash and micro, it seems to me that the actual market has increased tremendously in the past several years. Granted, they aren't Colliers or the Saturday Evening Post, but there's no question that there are people who will read short stories on the web, on break at work, at lunch, while commuting, etc. Dave Clapper has posted to the effect that we need to get the business model worked out, and I agree. But the potential is there.

I knew an editor who told me people say they want to write, but what most people mean is they want to have written. In other words, they want whatever good things come from a book tour, an interview, kissass, etc, without the work and the talent. Actually, real writers read, and real writers write. They can't halp writing. I'm listening here, often, to people who are disappointed they aren't getting the perks from having "written". And I'm puzzled too that many are focusing on success based on 50, 75, 100 year old models. Even Darin Straus gets into the New York Times (in major financial hot water) and The Village Voice (in even hotter water). Yesterday's writer. Billy Bob isn't really a writer, as far as I can see.

Native_Ink said...

I have a couple of questions for Billy Bob Loser:

1) How many simultaneous submissions do you have out at any given time (per individual story)? And do you have a limit for how many journals can be considering a story simultaneously?

2) What is the % of personal replies to form replies?

Just curious.

lol said...

billy bob be right about #1 and #3. though i enjoy reading and wrting ss collections more than novels, i almost always end up reading collections of writers who have novels out already. there are not that many ss-only writers that i'm really into. novel is king. everybody w/ talent and savvy --> novel.

nate totally called it, lolzzz!

John said...

But it seems to me that writing a novel is, even for most published novelists, also a disappointment. Everything I see suggests that, even if you get an agent and the publisher accepts your novel, all kinds of pitfalls await you: the next step is for the marketing people to pitch your novel to the bookstore buyers, but if they're lukewarm, then the publisher will pull your publicity and give you the option of hiring your own publicist. We're getting into expensive hobby territory again.

I don't know what the stats are on novels that don't make their advances, but I assume this number is substantial.

Again, I'm not sure if the folks here are necessarily interested in having some ho-hum novelist give your own book a good review and get whatever warm and fuzzies you get from that. They want book tours, interviews, appearances on GMA. Your chances there are probably better playing the lottery.

We're back to nate saying that writing shouldn't languish in obscurity. Great! But Billy Bob's writing is doing nothing if not languishing in obscurity, notwithstanding all his expensive subs. Some with someone who says I won't be a real writer until I can get book tours and stuff, and I need to have a novel to do that, and to do that I need an agent, so they're off on an endless treadmill.

W,R's novel, for that matter, seems stuck in this cycle. For now many years? Oh, she's in love with it again (that, of course, is what the agents say about their projects, that mostly get the marketing and publicity pulled from them anyhow).

I think we're still dealing with an improbable fantasy world made up of magic agents who fall in love with your novel, sudden success, and appearances on GMA. By the way, I'm puzzled that lol, clearly a semiliterate, has opinions in this area.

mumu said...

John, are you off your medication. I thought it had already been defined for you. A market is a place to sell your work. Usually with an amount commensurate to the readership it will get. A zine will take your work for free and give you a microscopic readership, no way to make a career. No money, not a market, no readers. Why not post your stories on your blog? If you blog a lot you will get more readers than these fly-by-night zines. You can even nominate your favorites for a Pushcart. Will a zine Pushcart nomination ever win? That would legitimize it, but it still would be unpaying. What will you write for money? Not stories. Or will you have to pick an entirely different career? Teaching, perhaps?

No one talked about breaking into academic markets. Most academic markets do not pay. Most are biased against non-academic writers, as any perusal of the "contributors" page of the "top" academic journals will readily demonstrate. The top markets are not academic. The markets are scarce and dwindling (while, yea, zines are increasing).

Short stories are
dead,
dead,
dead,
dead,
dead,
dead,
dead,
dead,
dead,
dead,
dead,
dead,
dead,
dead,
dead,
dead.

Get it?

Some writers want to resurrect the short story (a return of great markets, probably online). But you want us to keep playing around with zines.

John said...

I'm not sure why the insistence on money here. Emily Dickinson never made a penny off her stuff. For most of his life, Henry James lived off his trust fund (or 19th century equivalent) from his grandfather.

Interestingly, when I publish in a zine, they usually ask me to execute an agreement or contract. A contract does not require money, only a "consideration". In this case, the consideration is publication, though zines will also pay a token amount of money or contributor's copies. There is satisfaction there, but remember that even the paying markets don't pay a whole lot. What's the difference between five bucks (some zines) and a hundred (OneStory?) Neither will pay your rent or buy many groceries. It's like the old joke, we already know what you are, we're just negotiating the price. Anyone who writes can be characterized as a duffer or hobbyist at this rate.

A big benefit to having zines on your pub creds is that they at least show that your work has been chosen by someone independent. You might say that zine editors can pick their friends, but so can Harper's or Missouri Review. At least there's an indication of arm's length evaluation.

And the zines are in fact pub creds to put on your future cover letters. Sounds to me like Billy Bob, after four years, has no pub creds to put on his cover letters. I would ask the experts here: is it better to have pub creds on a cover letter, notwithstanding from some zines, or no pub creds at all?

I'm a little puzzled too that mumu, who purports to have writing expertise, is using fancy fonts and odd format, heavy breating repetition, and so forth, exactly the things that would turn off an editor, zine or journal. The posters here seem to be speaking NASCAR-ese or high school sophomore.

question said...

hey john, who are the real writers? got links/names? and what are the models?

John said...

Bukowski, Steinbeck, Flannery O'Connor, Salinger. You can find em via google. But if you aren't already familiar with them, it means you aren't reading the way a real writer reads, and I'm not sure what I need to do in explaining their models to you. If you've got a problem with the fact that none of them is living, I would only point you to Christopher Lasch's The Culture of Narcissism, a quite respectable left-wing critique of recent literary trends.

John said...

Whoops, Salinger is 90 and still alive.

question said...

john, i know all those. they aren't in zines btw. they got paid for their stuff and were read by the masses. some sooner than later (buke took forever, messing around with the tiny pubs (!) for so long, salinger more quickly) but all of them eventually did.

and left-wing critique of literary trends. is there any other type?

John said...

Steinbeck got his money from Hollywood. Flannery O'Connor didn't make much money at all -- good she could live with her mother. Bukowski had a day job until he was 50; the stuff that made his reputation, Notes Of A Dirty Old Man, he wrote for nothing. Then a newbie publisher made a deal to pay Bukowski enough to make his rent in return for Buk sending his daily output. Non-traditional to say the least. Salinger is the only one of these who remotely follows your model, though it appears The New Yorker screwed him royally until he published The Catcher In The Rye.

None of these tells me I should do the wish-upon-a-star and find the agent who will fall in love with my novel routine and abjure getting my stuff out any way I can. If the posters here could point to their own success, I might be convinced, but the only one who discusses his/her experience at all is Billy Bob, who is too pure to get any pub creds at all, by his account. Doesn't look inviting to me as a strategy, hate to say it.

mumu said...

John, we may have more in common than you think. I agree that even what the big leagues pay for literature is small potatoes. A hundred bucks is nothing. You can get paid more for a half-day's work in the amateur journalism league. Even the so-called "top" markets mentioned on and on here don't pay really all that much. A buck a word is not stellar, so even the New Yorker won't make you rich.

So you are right, judging at these current rates (either from the zines or the "markets"), you're a duffer or a hobbyist. No one makes a living off of it.

The point of some of your antagonists is that it used to be possible. Popular fiction used to be a career. Not for all, but for some. At times it was even lucrative. That changed dramatically in recent decades: short stories disappeared almost completely from the public eye. Yes there are a lot of novels being published now, but you have to really look at the numbers. Publishing a book today is nothing what it was even in the 80's. A few authors get the big advances (which never earn out) but most authors come away with chump change. Fiction doesn't seem to have much of a pull, or a cultural hold. Did TV take its place? Will the Web, once it replaces TV, come to save it? I don't know but short fiction was once part of the mass media and not it is not. Some writers see that as undesirable and wrong and are trying to determine how to change it. You might not share that goal. I think that is the source of antagonism here. People may have different goals. I think what you are doing is fine, but I don't see how it will help change the fact that short stories are not part of the mass media.

Now. I think there is some validity to your approach. Even if the zines are tiny and fleeting, you are getting your work to the public, if but in a small backwoods gallery, and you are able to say that someone else wanted to publish your work, if but a small backwoods gallery proprietor. That's more than a lot of others on here can say, apparently.

I do think that zine credits can help in the agent hunt, but I also think it might backfire. Could there be agents only looking for the "right" credits, and could they look down on zine credits? I think maybe yes, some do.

That person who criticized the opening of your story, I think that person is really part of the problem. (And is why I don't submit to the academic journals.) What they're looking for is such a tired stereotype. What that person said was bad about your story would apply to any number of short stories by Sherwood Anderson, Katherine Mansfield, Steinbeck, O. Henry, Chekov, Joyce, Fitzgerald, and so on. Your opening was just as good as any number of openings I read in an anthology containing all the forementioned. I like it. I like to read it. I like to write it. But it's not what "they" want.

John said...

Thanks! It reminds me of a rejection I got from a zine editor the other day who complained that I'd violated some sacred rule by referring to "not what you'd expect", saying this was using the second person, a no-no. I replied asking if "Call me Ishmael" was bad and the editor got really really ticked off!!

I think you and I definitely agree that there are essentially two approaches here: one says there's a single path to success in writing, and defines that success as money, book tours, interviews, and appearances on GMA. None of these folks has anything remotely like this, but that's what they're insisting we have.

Another approach, which actually isn't congenial with this site, is to say a real writer has to write the way the people on Flight 93 had to roll, let's not worry about money, book tours, etc. Given current conditions, which don't favor writers making money, you write any way you can. Though again, the idea that almost any writer could make big money seems to be a short-lived 20th century phenomenon. Most of our 19th century names didn't make much at all; Mark Twain is about the only exception that comes to mind. Heck, Thoreau probably would have turned down any major money!

So to some extent the views on this site are fantasy-based, and there is, as a few have pointed out from time to time, a certain tone of disappointed entitlement here.

Anonymous said...

billy bob should continue the labor of love and tell us what the top 75 are....

i disagree with a fair bit of what has been said so far, at least about the short story being dead. for a start, a lot of these journals are university funded, and won't be the first thing to go when the financial crunch hits universities. the short story will thus survive, albeit not reach the largest public. but so what? the short story--unless you're someone like munro, carver, a very few other writers--was always a minor exhibit, a promise of something more. a short story collection is, more often than not, like a resume--here are the different kinds of things i can do. the novel has always been where it is at.

Anonymous said...

So OK, 3:45, where do we buy your novel? A lot of this chat is simply neither here nor there. Your opinion that the novel is "where it is at" is important because. . . ?

nate said...

Anon, if the short story is just a school exercise now it is dead.

Besides, the academics have shown their true stripes. They will never publish John Bruce and his ilk. Read the contributor notes of these things. It's all professors who are published there.

The story was not always a "minor exhibit", either. That's total revisionism. Probably not your fault -- you probably have no idea how it was but you'll be blown away by the numbers if you bother to research it. (Read "One Writer's Manifesto" here on this blog for some numbers.) In the Golden Age of the Ameerican story it was one of the major forms of entertainment for educated people. Even in the less-paying 19th century, all major newspapers ran both short stories and poetry. When was the last time you read a poem in the newspaper?

The novel has not always been where it was at. In the aforementioned Golden Age it was more profitable to write short stories than it was to write novels. There were career short story writers until the early 1960s.

And as said before, only professors and aspiring professors read the academic journals.

Better to publish in John's zines. At least you have the chance of being read by somebody.

You Bastard, You! :) said...

Is Nate actually John so that John can have someone who agrees with him?

Nate writes, "And as said before, only professors and aspiring professors read the academic journals."

Wrong. Agents read academic journals. Literary agents. And some editors. Editors at, yes, big NY publishing houses. It's like saying, No one goes to minor league baseball games. Well, scouts go there, right? Literary magazines are where the scouts go. Whether you like what they publish or not, this is where you're most likely to get "discovered." Not in zines. Sorry.

Peeved said...

Frequently on this blog people mix up cause and effect.

They assumed that literary journals publish writers because they are professors.

In actuality, good writers of short fiction have to become professors to survive financially, and then they publish in journals.

Thus, saying literary journals only publish professors is a little like saying they only publish good writers. If you disagree, name one short story writer -- semi-famous, at least -- who DOESN'T teach. (If you can, I'll name 200 who do).

PS. Literary journal is not the same as Academic journal. Completely different terms and things - don't use them interchangeably.

You Bastard, You :) said...

Peeved:

I actually meant literary journal, not academic journal. I figured Nate meant literary journal when he said academic journal. I was trying not to confuse Nate. But you're right: two different things. Modern Fiction Studies = academic journal. Alaska Quarterly Review = literary journal. I started out publishing in small literary journals years ago, slowly worked my up to better literary journals, published a book, published in even better literary journals (including that mythical top 10 that people keep alluding to), and published more books. It was a long, hard climb. I don't do it to make money. I'd be crazy if I did. But I have made some money along the way. Only twice did I make enough for a person to live on for a year, but most of that went to paying off credit cards.

Back to my original point (in my previous post): I've been contacted, several times, by agents who've read my work in literary magazines. I've also been contacted by at least one book editor as well as several magazine editors, some of whom solicited work and then later published it. To denigrate these magazines is pure foolishness...and evidence that the person doing the denigrating has no idea what he's talking about.

John said...

Peeved said, "If you disagree, name one short story writer -- semi-famous, at least -- who DOESN'T teach. (If you can, I'll name 200 who do)." I'm not sure if this proves anything, because I'm not sure there are any semi-famous short story writers who are any good. See Christopher Lasch above for symptoms, at least.

You can Google things like "TC Boyle bad writing" (or any other well known author bad writing) and get lots and lots of hits, many with cogent remarks.

If there's such a correlation between PhDs at Princeton and the like and bad writing, then maybe this is part of the problem.

Writer, Rejected said...

Scientific.

Bitterly Books said...

John, I am so glad that you had the courage and bravery to say that "a real writer has to write the way the people on Flight 93 had to roll," because it's such an apt comparison.

A real writer faces a life-or-death struggle.

A real writer makes an effort to restore order in a maelstrom of violence, chaos, and hatred.

A real writer desperately tries to contact the people he loves most before he gets to business, because he may never see them again.

A real writer will end up as so many unrecognizable chunks littering a field in rural Pennsylvania if his efforts are unsuccessful.

I don't know why you'd think that attitude isn't congenial with this site.

Lo and Behold said...

Google. D'oh! Outsmarted again by John. From now on, before I decide to read a writer, I'll Google their name and the words "bad writing" afterward to determine whether it's worth my while. Oh, and while I'm at it, I'll check to see if any Amazon reviewer has ever given him or her a one-star rating.

Christ Almighty, my head hurts.

cyan said...

this is fun; i've never been insulted on the internet before (I was Anon 3:45).

point taken, though. sorry for the historical slip up: of course the short story was once more widely read than the novel. i guess my point was rather that if you read even the best collections today--rebecca curtis, daniel alarcon, maile malloy--they are remarkably uneven. why? because these are writers still testing out their aesthetic. when they do work out what they want to say, and how, they write novels. so i'm not yet sure the collapse in the short story is to be entirely lamented. some writers are best exhibited in the short format: munro, as I said, carver, borges, etc...but i do have to say, the vast majority of short story writers are playing about until they can hit a home run.

obtusco butafuoco said...

yeah, people are obtuse. we should pour some of our energy into short stories and novels, or at least a short story ala John:

I was in the faculty lounge googling "TC Boyle bad writer" when I received an IM from an old Dartmouth buddy, Nate. We had been chums at Dartmouth where we both engaged in the pursuit of studying to be academics. Nate had gone on to found an academic literary journal that I often had the pleasure of googling. That is, er, when I wasn't googling Darin Strauss...

omg I have to stop reading this blog.

C said...

A 9/11 simile? Really? See John, that's why people here spend so much time trying to shut you up. You tell almost all who disagree with you that they are not real writers and then you drop a terrible line like that. We'll ignore the fact that Mr. 9/11 effectively sucked all the power from 9/11 references during his presidential bid, but seriously, stop and think about that image. The passengers of Flight 93 realized that if they didn't act others were going to die and so they sacrificed their last remaining minutes to so that who knows how many other people could continue on with their lives. We're talking about whether or not it is possible to make a living from writing short stories. Do you see the difference there? Additionally, your simile acts a cheap emotional ploy. It's there to make the reader miss the lack of a logical connection to the rest of the subject matter while he or she revels in the quick flush of pride that inevitably follows any comparison to a heroic deed. Next time, just make your point, or choose a better simile.

Anonymous said...

All in good fun!

...notwithstanding my general disdain of academic literary rags, being myself a zine man, I nevertheless conveyed to Nate my latest sample of writing in the hopes he might find a spot for it between the latest Darin Strauss story and critical essay on Bukowski, another Dartmouth chum...

W,R we should hold some sort of John Bruce fiction contest.

gimme said...

"but there's no question that there are people who will read short stories on the web, on break at work, at lunch, while commuting, etc. "

I often feel as if I'm peering into an elaborately constructed fantasy world when I read these threads, but never moreso than when I read statements like this that are so touchingly divorced from anything resembling reality.

This is right up there with Clapper's statement in the last thread about how "web zines aren't currently paying, but they will soon."

Perhaps there's a lesson here about the importance of self-delusion in any artist's psychological makeup...

Without it, how could we possibly pursue a path so barren of the possibility for reward?

John said...

Well, I guess I've arrived someplace if I'm already being satirized. But recognize that almost nobody else here, even those who claim to be published writers, will let on who they are. You Bastard says, "I started out publishing in small literary journals years ago, slowly worked my up to better literary journals, published a book, published in even better literary journals (including that mythical top 10 that people keep alluding to), and published more books. It was a long, hard climb. I don't do it to make money. I'd be crazy if I did. But I have made some money along the way. Only twice did I make enough for a person to live on for a year, but most of that went to paying off credit cards." He then goes on to say how various agents found him in the literary journals.

There's no way we can verify this, but assuming the basic outline is true, it still leaves me with nagging questions around the edges. The fact is (as Billy Bob points out) that you can submit to these journals for years and not break in, and the typical 0% acceptance rates recorded at Duotrope back this up. But we see many similar things in the academic world: hundreds of applications for each open tenure-track slot, with the winner often being a "non-obvious choice" who turns out to be the brother-in-law of the department chair. I can surmise who You Bastard is, and I suspect he's a creature of academic gamesmanship, because his writing is also a non-obvious choice (think "trees gesticulating like marionettes").

I'm a little puzzled at Bitterly Books's objections to my simile, though the literal-minded have problems with figures of speech. He/she complains by implication that I'm over the top in saying "A real writer faces a life-or-death struggle." Right, like Red Smith's remark about sitting down at the typewriter and opening a vein. How self-important can you get? Or that idiot suggesting that "A real writer makes an effort to restore order in a maelstrom of violence, chaos, and hatred." I inmw, all a real writer wants is a book tour. Screw order! Or even that idiotic suggestion that "A real writer desperately tries to contact the people he loves most before he gets to business, because he may never see them again." After all, the idea that we have people who mean something to us (if we're very lucky) and life is short and unpredictable is just a delusion.

There's some unintentional self-revelation going on here.

You Bastard, You! said...

John: You're so off the mark about me, you crack me up. As for revealing who I am, it's a no-win situation on this site, so why would I? Why would any writer who's published a book (or books)? You'd have to be a masochist. I'm sorry to stick a pin in your bloated and arrogant (but revealing) remarks, John, but I didn't know anyone to get my job, and I'm not a creature of academic gamemanship. I'm just a person who's been writing steadily for over twenty years, improving slowly, and carving out a writing life for myself. If that bothers you, then perhaps you should go boil in your juices just a little longer tonight than you normally do, John.

John said...

Well, I'm still confused (no surprise to some folks!). A prof who's written several novels and countless stories thinks it's a no-win situation to say who he is. A pissant blogger who's only submitted stuff for two years apparently has the stones to do what Mr.Nobody is afraid to do!

Writer, Rejected said...

Why is that confusing? He has something to lose....you don't. You know what Joni Mitchell says about freedom.

Not the Rolling Kind said...

Yo, John: At the slightest pinprick, you went all Anonymous on us. You've only begun revealing yourself again because everyone knew who Anonymous was ("Zines! Zines! Zines!"). I wouldn't be so fast to trumpet your stones.

John said...

How does he have something to lose? Except perhaps, as Christopher Lasch has pointed out, that the style among our literati has become Not To Give Offense. If he becomes controversial in any way, he loses something, apparently. Tell that to Steinbeck, Bukowski, Sinclair Lewis.

Writer, Rejected said...

I would happily tell that to Steinbeck, Bukowski, and Lewis...if they were alive today (and trying to get published in 2009). Update your thinking to the (post)modern world, dude.

The publishing industry those guys navigated is nowhere near the shark-infested publishing industry we swim in today. Who knows. Maybe a 21st-century Steinbeck would have drowned in the shallow water.

pink tan pink green blue--it's code! crack my secret identity said...

john, no wonder people mock (not satirize) you here. you COMPLETELY missed the point of bitterly books rant. you are paranoid beyond comprehension about the secret identities of the anonymice. you use bukowski as an example for every non-germane point you make. and, you are without a doubt the most literal minded person here.

it's as if you don't actually read the posts you respond to. you're quite handy with the " " feature, but it's the sentiment behind the words that you fail to grasp, over and over and over.

Anonymous said...

Quick talking about John Bruce. He manages to derail every potentially fruitful topic we start talking about.

Stick to points of the post, people, or substantive comments about the post (yes, the substantive adjective is added in order to exclude John).

C said...

Anonymous 1:46, sorry. I just couldn't let the 9/11 simile go. Back to the topic at hand. I am one of the delusional folks that Gimme mentioned. I think the internet and new forms of delivery have to potential to reinvigorate the short story. If you think about it, part of what doomed the short story is what we ask readers to pay for access. Right now the options are, read the New Yorker, which only publishes stories that fit within a narrow stylistic spectrum, buy a journal which cost between ten and twenty dollars and comes with no guarantee of containing stories you might enjoy. By a collection, again they're expensive and of questionable quality. Online journals can make stories free, or sell them individually for a reasonable price (Think itunes, but for stories). If we remove the financial obstacles, then it becomes a little easier to lure more readers to the short story.
Now how we convince more people that even free short stories are worth their time is beyond me. I'm willing to ignore that for now. This is where the delusion takes over.

Native_Ink said...

Okay, this blog has officially drifted into the weeds. If it continues as a forum for pointless (and completely boring) flame wars between John and a bunch of anti-John anonymice, I think I'll waste my precious time somewhere else, thank you.

Writer, Rejected said...

Right? Me too....oh, I guess not.

Not C at All said...

The best short stories will always gravitate towards prestige/money, which is usually AWAY from online magazines and TOWARDS established print journals.

So C, really, you get what you pay for.

And I'm not always sure easier (or cheaper) access leads to increased readership. Paradoxically, people appreciate what they have to pay for, and denigrate (or ignore) what's free.

What doomed the short story is certainly not requiring people to pay for it. Think about all the other art forms thriving under pretty substantial fees/costs.

nate said...

"Is Nate actually John so that John can have someone who agrees with him?"

No.

I don't think zines are all that effective. I like John's writing. I don't like academic journals. I know that John will never appear in the academic journals. I just agree that he's better off with zines because the journals won't have him. But I hate zines and journals pretty much equally.


"Nate writes, "And as said before, only professors and aspiring professors read the academic journals."

Wrong. Agents read academic journals. Literary agents. And some editors. Editors at, yes, big NY publishing houses. It's like saying, No one goes to minor league baseball games. Well, scouts go there, right? Literary magazines are where the scouts go. Whether you like what they publish or not, this is where you're most likely to get "discovered." Not in zines. Sorry."

Ok, actually I agree with you.

Yes -- agents read the academic journals.

Yes -- editors read the academic journals.

No -- agents and editors do not read zines.

And yes -- many agents sign the same old same old MFA carrying just-like-everybody-else kind of writers.

Yes -- agents love a safe, quick, easy deal. Can't blame them, no -- but there's just too much of the schoolteacher "literary" crap out there, the academic slop that we complain about on this blog and that the journals run (becuase it's their friends) and that the agents pick up on and the editors buy and the publishers publish. But literature is so irrelevant to the outer world. And I say that it's because of this cycle. Time to break it.
Yes -- the bookstores are flooded with "vampire" novels.

Yes -- the bookstores are flooded with very shallow, stupid books.

Yes -- many of these shallow, stupid books have a small coating, on the surface, of sophistication. So that some people can feel clever for reading them.

Yes -- editors don't edit anymore.

Yes -- no agents openly aspire to "superstar" level, to the kind of representation ICM used to give.

Yes -- editors don't buy anything that isn't safe. Especially if Anne Mini is right with her recent checklist of what agents/editors look for. It's horrendous. Like a hundred points long and if you're well read enough you could bat out a dozen examples of great lit that would be disqualified by any one of those list items. You pretty much have to write a 75,000 word vampire secret-conspiracy novel if you want to get a book deal, it sounds like.

nate said...

Peeved:

"They assumed that literary journals publish writers because they are professors."

Yes, of course. Journals are run by MFA departments. They have to maintain their hold. If they downplay the need for MFAs, their department will suffer. That would be stupid. It's only common sense. How many chemistry journals run articles by non-chemistry-degreed people? They don't. Of course not. The journals are not for what used to be called "short stores" -- they're for this new academic thing, the acadmic short story specimen. So they have to discriminate against non-academic writers. It's only self-preservation, self-interest. If they say otherwise they are lying and insulting the intelligence of anyone who is awake and paying attention.


"In actuality, good writers of short fiction have to become professors to survive financially,"--

I think you are confusing cause and effect. Yes, good writers of short fiction cannot make a living at it anymore, yes. Yes, the profession short story writer and his art have gone the way of the old fashioned movie star, yes.

But where does the schoolteacher part come in? You mean a good fiction writer can't get a job as a non-fiction writer? As a copywriter? A marketing-brochure writer? A proofreader? An editor? A resume maker? A dating service matchmaker? A computer programmer? A farmhand or fisherman? A ranchhand or cattlebearer? A dog trainer or circus freak? A day trader? A home-businessman? An AdSense-powered blog and journaler? A web designer?

Where do you come up with this idea that short story writers must go to that most bankrupt and amoral institutions, higher academia, and become a teacher in an MFA program?


--"and then they publish in journals."

Oh yes. That's the one great perk of going that route. You'll be a card-carrying member of the Club, and the world of Ploughshares and Poetry Magazine and New American Writing and American Poetry Review and Subtropics and Shenandoah and all these other wonderful, wonderful journals will open up to you. And the editors and agents will read it and they will pick you up.


"Thus," ... "literary journals only publish professors" ...


"If you disagree, name one short story writer -- semi-famous, at least -- who DOESN'T teach. (If you can, I'll name 200 who do)."

You just killed yourself.

You just showed that academia has a wicked stranglehold on publishing and the whole thing is built on lies.

I could type until this thing runs out of memory listing all the great writers of the not too distant past who were not "degreed" in the higher art of writing short stories. Today? Well, today, how many well-known writers out there are even worth reading? That's the nut of it, the point of view that myself and others on this blog have represented for so long. Literature today is mostly not worth reading, simply because it's an exclusive academic exercise. The public is not stupid about this -- they saw immediately that this junk was not worth their while and they don't read it. It's hidden away in the journals. No commercial editor would buy any of this academic poetry or academic short stories. It's a money loser, because it's no good.

Obviously the public agrees with me.

Popular writers like Elizabeth Gilbert, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jeff VanderMeer, Bret Easton Ellis, Andrew Vachss, Donna Tartt, Jay McInerney, Tom Wolfe (whose last book was also a truthful eye-opener with regard to academia and its stranglehold.)


"PS. Literary journal is not the same as Academic journal. Completely different terms and things - don't use them interchangeably."

Actually, today they more or less are the same. That's the point of all this. Academia has put literature in a box, made it a specimen display, a dead art. And put a tight and jealous stranglehold on it. I am saying that it's a joke, as dead and meaningless as their characters' shallow epiphanies. And no one's buying it.

nate said...

"All in good fun!

...notwithstanding my general disdain of academic literary rags, being myself a zine man, I nevertheless conveyed to Nate my latest sample of writing in the hopes he might find a spot for it between the latest Darin Strauss story and critical essay on Bukowski, another Dartmouth chum...

W,R we should hold some sort of John Bruce fiction contest."


I liked this, actually. That was a very readable excerpt, and I enjoyed it. It's funny how John Bruce's style can be so easily parodied, and is so recognizable. It's readable, and I'd love to read a story like that over my morning Quaker oats. Much better than the latest issue of the school-run X, which I tried to read and was just disgusted by its contents.

nate said...

Gimme,

You quoted this:

"but there's no question that there are people who will read short stories on the web, on break at work, at lunch, while commuting, etc. "

Then said:

"I often feel as if I'm peering into an elaborately constructed fantasy world when I read these threads, but never moreso than when I read statements like this that are so touchingly divorced from anything resembling reality."

Don't you think people would read short stories at lunch, on break, or furtively at work?

I strongly agree with this statement. Can you tell me why you disagree?

I know a lot of people who read sites like GAWKER.COM, VICELAND.COM, SALON.COM, BOSTON.COM, DRUDGEREPORT.COM,
BOINGBOING.NET, WIRED.COM, SLATE.COM, ESQUIRE.COM, GQ.COM, VOGUE.COM.

Ok, just some domain examples. These are all super-popular sites at work.

Now. None of those sites (with some exception) print or link to short stories or poetry.

That's a huge bummer. It sucks, actually. If these sites ran or linked to great poetry and fiction, I believe that their readers would read them. Why can't there be a Gawker-type site that bought good fiction as, say, Esquire did in the days of editors Gingrich and Hills?

Let's put it this way. There are thousands of paying markets online for many types of writing. Fiction and non-fiction are just genres. Why is it that fiction as a genre is so massively unpopular with the commercial press?

(Vice, btw, run some fabulous short stories once in a while. They ran a Blake Bailey story last year that's so much better than what you'd get in the academic "literary" journals.)


"This is right up there with Clapper's statement in the last thread about how "web zines aren't currently paying, but they will soon.""

Yes, I do think that's odd. Commercial sites do pay. Web zines don't because they're, well, zines. How will this ever change, unless the web zine becomes a commercial site?

nate said...

John,

"The fact is (as Billy Bob points out) that you can submit to these journals for years and not break in, and the typical 0% acceptance rates recorded at Duotrope back this up."

Duotrope is great. The Internet is revealing the academic stranglehold. Most of these journals don't pull out of the slush or even comment on work that's almost there. None of these editors will mark up your work or play a part in developing you as a writer, or even encourage you to send them more.

You always hear that these complaints are stupid, that editors are "just so busy that it's unrealistic to expect them to comment." That's been shown to be a very bald lie. Like the readers for VQR who made all kinds of comments (many nasty, infantile, decidedly unliterary and just stupid) about submitted work. Ted Genoways comes on to defend them. They're overworked, blowing off steam. Well rubbish. If they can take the time to type in a sentence on a work, they should send it to the writer. If what they are writing is cruel and mean to "blow off steam" they should find a new, less stressful job. If you're a competent writer you can query editors at any major periodical and you'll get a reply. Maybe just a "sorry" but very often -- in my experience much more than not -- you'll get a letter in reply. It might only be two sentences long, but this editor (more busy than any editor of an obscure academic journal) will actually call you by your name and write something about your submission. The difference here between commerical magazine editors and academic literary journal editors is stark.

Double Platter said...

Nate:

You have way too much time on your hands. As for your this: "Where do you come up with this idea that short story writers must go to that most bankrupt and amoral institutions, higher academia, and become a teacher in an MFA program?" Give me a f*ckin' break. Who are you? Bill O'Reilly?

Peeved said...

Nate:

"Yes, of course. Journals are run by MFA departments. They have to maintain their hold. If they downplay the need for MFAs, their department will suffer. That would be stupid. It's only common sense."

This is conspiracy-theory-esque. Stop it. If you ask any editor, they will publish the best stuff that comes to them. In fact, multiple people with MFAs from the best programs have written in the comments on this very blog that having an MFA actually hurts you when submitting.

"How many chemistry journals run articles by non-chemistry-degreed people?"

None. Because perhaps few people without a chemistry degree can write a good article about chemistry. Perhaps the same holds for those without an MFA.

"The journals are not for what used to be called "short stories" -- they're for this new academic thing, the academic short story specimen."

I agree -- there are many examples of poor work in the journals. Some of it is too experimental (or failed experiments) and some of it is too academic, yes. But since journals are on the cutting edge of fiction, they work like evolution, making and killing off mutation after mutation, keeping only what works. You're focusing on the unworkable mutations; I'm focusing on the successful mutations. There are some great short stories written in journals, especially some top journals. There are also terrible stories. For you to hold, without qualification, that's it's all bad (seriously? ALL Journals? ALL of them? ALL stories?) is only to show that you really haven't read these journals, or YOU are the one with extremely narrow and provincial tastes.

"You mean a good fiction writer can't get a job as a non-fiction writer? As a copywriter? A marketing-brochure writer? A proofreader? An editor? A resume maker? A dating service matchmaker? A computer programmer? A farmhand or fisherman? A ranchhand or cattlebearer? A dog trainer or circus freak? A day trader? A home-businessman? An AdSense-powered blog and journaler? A web designer?"

None of those professions give you enough free time to allow you to write full-time. The writing ones, in particular, suck away your verbal creativity. So yes, aside from independent wealth, the university is where most writers has flocked. It gives time and financial support. Like it or not, (and I don't, necessarily) the university is a financial and sociological phenomenon. (Read the article in N+1 about Money)

"I could type until this thing runs out of memory listing all the great writers of the not too distant past who were not "degreed" in the higher art of writing short stories."

That's because MFA programs didn't exist in the past. It's also because financially speaking, it was a different era, with different means (like short stories paying more). Your "proof" does not show anything other than a misunderstanding of the differences between the present and the past.

"Today? Well, today, how many well-known writers out there are even worth reading?"

So Nobody today is worth reading? Please. You're the one who has killed yourself. No one? And you are the golden answer, the messiah of writing, because you see through all these lies? Once again, very conspiracy theorist.

"Obviously the public agrees with me."

If you think this counts in your favor, you are incorrect.

Billy Bob Loser said...

Native Ink:

10 for each story. 10 tops, simultaneously. Sometimes 8.

5% personal rejections. Sometimes 10% on a good story.

gimme said...

"Don't you think people would read short stories at lunch, on break, or furtively at work?

I strongly agree with this statement. Can you tell me why you disagree? "

Well, it might be more illuminating to turn the question back and ask: what possible shred of evidence is there that anyone anywhere has any interest whatsoever in short fiction?

I don't know a SINGLE person who REGULARLY reads short stories for pleasure and neither do you. If you say you do you are either lying or you are a statistical anomaly.

What we all tend to forget is that short, literary fiction (as opposed to the stuff that used to be published in what was known as the "slicks" - commercial fiction outlets like Ladies Home Journal and Redbook and that ilk) NEVER had much of an audience. That is what is wrong about the argument above - tempting as it is - that academia messed up the form so bad that the public no longer cares.

It's true the public doesn't care, but they never really did. The real problem is that what was for decades a "prestige" business is now a "profit" business.

Now that books are evaluated SOLELY in terms of its market value (rather than MOSTLY in terms of its market value and PARTIALLY in terms of its cultural merit, as was once the case), there is no earthly reason for any marketing exec (and that is exactly who decides what gets published now) to greenlight ANY short fiction product.

So, this is a long-winded way of saying: yeah, not only is it absurd to say anyone would be interested in short fiction, it is absurd to think that anyone ever really WAS.

And that was BEFORE all the competing forms of media and entertainment that have appeared in the interim.

But that's enough gloom from me for today...:)

x said...

Actually, I do read short stories for pleasure. And I know several people who do.

Where do you come up with your crap, Gimme?

Dave Clapper said...

Some web pubs DO pay, incidentally. More all the time.

I don't know why I bother, though. People bemoan the death of the short story, but aren't interested in hearing from any of the people actually doing things to revive it by, I dunno, actually finding readers.

So screw it.

gimme said...

"Actually, I do read short stories for pleasure. And I know several people who do."

Nope. Don't believe you. Sorry. Thanks for playing, though!:)

My "crap" x, is easily verified by anyone who wishes to study the industry trends. This stuff is hardly a secret.

As I said, if you claim to be surrounded by short fiction lovers, you are either a massive statistical rarity, or you're full of it.

In your case, given the hostility of your tone, I'd assume the latter.

Anonymous said...

Gimme,

"I don't know a SINGLE person who REGULARLY reads short stories for pleasure and neither do you."

Most literate people read. You'll agree with that? People do read stories. Jeffrey Archer and Stephen King, there's two popular examples. I know people who read the WOMAN'S WORLD story every week. I know people who read the hunting and fishing stories in GREY'S SPORTING JOURNAL, and who used to read ESQUIRE's fiction.

Yes, people read short stories. But there just isn't much in the mainstream anymore. Which leads to ...


"What we all tend to forget is that short, literary fiction (as opposed to the stuff that used to be published in what was known as the "slicks" - commercial fiction outlets like Ladies Home Journal and Redbook and that ilk) NEVER had much of an audience."

No, this is exactly what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the "slicks." I don't give a rat's behind about the literary journals, the academic stuff. I'm talking about commercial magazines, specifically ones like LADIES HOME JOURNAL (which is currently undergoing a redesign, btw) and REDBOOK and VOGUE and DETAILS and GQ and all the rest of them. I don't care about academic "literary" authors. The best writers were commercial. Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Greene, O'Hara, McInerney, Ellis, Tartt, Wolfe, and on and on and on, these writers sold to the commercial slicks. Not all the writers for the slicks were great, but that's where the great writers were published. We don't have that now -- there is really nowhere to sell to, just a literal handful of markets -- and we really don't have great writing. It's a rarity now. Why should it be otherwise? You can't make even a bad living at it, you can't live at all at it. But becoming a a schoolteacher is not the answer, not for a serious writer. No it is not. And what point will it be to write your stories if only your students and co-workers read them? Things are going down, way down.

Writing in the slicks, btw, gave you a huge audience and exactly the audience that people like me want to reach -- not fellow schoolteachers and grad students, but the people out there on the streets, the people of the nation. It also paid and it paid better than the few remaining slicks do today. What The Atlantic and Harper's and The New Yorker offer for fiction is a joke compared to what they paid 50 years ago. Look it up. It's horrible. A dollar a word today is nothing. The National Writers Union said 15 years ago to never accept an assignment paying less than $1/word. Adjusted for today? You can't find a rate like that. The rates are way down for non-fiction too, btw. That's why everything's so stupid. That's why our culture is so rotten and uncivilized. None of this stuff pays. To make money at writing you have to go into custom publishing, writing corporate baloney, brochures, advertising. That pays awesome. Meanwhole, whole avenues of writing have been snuffed out. For certain types of writing, for the most important kind of work, there's absolutely nowhere to go.


"That is what is wrong about the argument above - tempting as it is - that academia messed up the form so bad that the public no longer cares."

No, wait a minute. Academia promoted postmodernism all the way. When the counterculture hit, those academics were the ones to flood the magazines. The editors were under the same spell. They shoved it out at us. And in 20 years they cut out poetry and fiction altogether, so that almost no magazines or newspapers today even print the stuff. And of course the academic journals, whose legion is endless, only print this same kind of boring tiresome stuff.


"It's true the public doesn't care, but they never really did."

They never cared about that academic stuff, no. But they loved commercial writing. The genres were well-loved too, and to some extent they continue to do well, especially online with good pubs like Clarkesworld, but mainstream commercial fiction and poetry -- which was once the heartblood of the nation -- is totally off the map, wiped out.

gimme said...

9:49: I'm not particularly interested in "slick" fiction, but it would seem to me that it has an even smaller chance for a resurgence than literary fiction.

The slicks always catered to the masses, with formulaic commercial stories designed to be easy entertainment for housewives and the like. Some real writers published there of course - Fitzgerald is an example of a guy who mainly supported himself through publishing in slicks. Though how anyone can read his commercial pieces is beyond me - stuff is godawful. But I digress...

Anyway, there are so many more efficient and appealing forms of cheap, easy commercial entertainment in our culture these days that it certainly seems unlikely the masses will return to such a staid form as the printed word for their mind candy.

I'd say the only people remaining who might be remotely interested in short fiction would tend to be hardcore literary types. And I think we all know that they constitute about .01% of our culture.

Hence, my pessimism regarding the return of short fiction. I don't see that this is such a controversial position, but folks around here appear to have a strong investment in unrealistic hopes.

Which is, of course, perfectly understandable, given what we're all trying to do.

Anonymous said...

Gimme,

"Anyway, there are so many more efficient and appealing forms of cheap, easy commercial entertainment in our culture these days that it certainly seems unlikely the masses will return to such a staid form as the printed word for their mind candy."

NATIONAL ENQUIRER

COUNTRY

HUFFINGTON POST

DETAILS

PLAYBOY

REMINISCE

GOLF DIGEST

SALON

NERVE

GAWKER

THE SATURDAY EVENING POST

VOGUE

PORTFOLIO

NEW YORK

O

GOURMET

COSMOPOLITAN

SPIN

JET

DETAILS

VIBE

GLAMOUR

LADIES HOME JOURNAL

CONDE NAST TRAVELER

VANITY FAIR

WIRED

GOURMET

REDBOOK


What are all these things, but mind candy? Cheap, easy entertainment? Stuff to while away your time at the airport or the salon? But all of them steer clear of fiction as a genre. Most of them, the ones with long histories, used to run fiction as a matter of course. Just about none of them do. Why? The question pertains especially to the online pubs, who can't list "expense" as an excuse. Why not try a new fiction section?

Really, why not? Does it hurt to try? They're all tanking anyway. At this rate all these babies will be closed up and gone before the decade's out. Why not run a little escapist fiction. It's time for change.

gimme said...

"Really, why not? Does it hurt to try?"

Amazing.

Do you really not understand, after all this time and all this discussion, why nobody features fiction anymore?

You can keep innocently wondering aloud, but the editors from any of the above magazines would all tell you the same thing I've been trying to tell you:

because NO ONE WANTS TO READ IT.

It's almost funny. Only in an insular world like this blog would this be considered a daring statement.

x or said...

dont' you get it though?

fiction is just a genre. what is 'fiction' anyway. it's all writing. plenty of memoirs and "reporting" are fiction. "gonzo" journalism. plenty of the "facts" the magazines give us, pure fiction.

sci fi is doing well, horror, the genres. and the nonfiction genres too.

but

these magazines do not buy or print fiction.

our question, unanswered, remains: why.

(yes, no one wants to read mfa pomo crap fiction, yes. but i'm talking about mainstream commercial fiction. which is actually popular in book collections)

Writer, Rejected said...

I think the container of the fiction is actually an interesting question. WHy is Best American Short Stories such a big seller? (BTW, I got it as a present and am happily reading through it now. Do I love all the stories? Not by a long shot, but I like some of them.)

Anonymous said...

BEST is used as a text in many college writing classes. It's used by informal writing or reading groups. Tyro writers buy it, to learn how to write good; published writers buy it, to see what their contemporaries are up to. Most libraries get a copy.
Thus, big sales figures.
I won't give my opinion of the stories, because I'm not entitled to have an opinion. Nor will I mention the overwhelming predominance of writers with MFAS in BEST, because people will call me bad names.

Anonymous said...

no one will call you bad names. i will call you observant.

gimme said...

"our question, unanswered, remains: why."

I think the "why" is fairly obvious.

Our culture has clearly not outgrown its need for *stories*. TV and film are still going strong. But books are simply no longer the most efficient or sophisticated means of delivering stories to the masses.

I'd say our culture is in the process of outgrowing fiction in general, and short fiction was kinda the first to go.

I mean, compared to all the other media available now, books are really quite primitive. The one area where they really excel is in-depth psychological/character studies - ie: LITERARY fiction.

But of course, that's the one strand of fiction that has never been widely read.

I guess I just don't see how any of this is such a big mystery. But who knows, maybe I'm just missing something...

Anonymous said...

the big mystery is why you deliver the 'fiction is dead' spiel every post. several times in a thread. one gimme report per thread will do quite well. i will not address the validity of your claims, lest i invite yet another response, replete with quoted snippets of my own comment. if you want to beat a dead horse and be appreciated for it, i suggest a relocation to france where horse meat is very popular, and there is a demand for people to beat the horses to soften the meat.

gimme said...

"the big mystery is why you deliver the 'fiction is dead' spiel every post."

Actually, if you re-read the thread, you'll see that my "speil" was in response to direct questioning from others.

I do agree that it seems odd that the question "why oh why is fiction not being published" continues to be asked over and over, as if it is some type of deep, metaphysical query that can never truly be answered.:)

And yeah, there is certainly a great deal of horse-beating going on - though that doesn't bother me as much as it seems to bother you (horse-beating is kinda the nature of this whole blog isn't it?).

Either way, I hardly think I'm the leading culprit in that area.

Cheers.

Anonymous said...

omg you couldn't resist responding...standard gimme form: qouted text, response, fiction is dead, call ppl hypocrites, blah blah blah. are you in high school by any chance? ur silly.

Career Counselor said...

I'm not sure gimme would fare so well in France as a meat-softener-horse-beater. There is a high enough demand for horse meat that gimme would need to beat multiple dead horses. But gimme can only beat one particular horse.

x said...

Not only is no one as smart as Gimme, but Gimme can look into our eyes (or, rather, our words) and see our souls. I stated earlier that I actually do read short stories for pleasure, as do many other people I know (this isn't to say that there's a short story renaissance afoot, just that there are some people who still read the damned things); Gimme writes back that, no, sorry, but I don't. Short of inviting Gimme to my house (which isn't going to happen), there's no way to provide proof. Therefore, by Gimme's logic (and truth-searching-soul-reading abilities), I'm a liar.

Okay, so now it's your turn Gimme. There's still some fly-attracting, maggot-crawling horse flesh left to beat. Go for it.

gimme said...

Oh darn it, x, now you're getting all riled up and excited and I can't help but feel a little responsible.

How's this: I sincerely retract my assertion that there is no market for short fiction. You've very eloquently and lucidly demonstrated that I am hugely mistaken.

So that leaves the oft-pondered question: WHY? Why is there not a single mainstream magazine editor or book publisher that seems to realize what you know and I failed to grasp? Why do they not start publishing short fiction again? Why, oh why?

Ah! I've got it. It must be the fault of academia in some way. Probably those MFA people. They're to blame.

Whew. That was a close one. I almost fell into the trap of believing there could be OTHER reasons coming into play here.

Thanks for straightening me out, buddy. And LOVE that "maggot/horseflesh" line. Can I use that one? It's so VIVID, you know.

omg, you ppl are sooo lame, lol. u must b in high skool... rotflmao

xxxooo
gimme