Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Spoil This!

Someone called Spoiler Alert recently commented as follows: "everyday, barring weekends, it's going to be an image of a polite form rejection from a paying 1st or 2nd tier lit rag, some whiney woe-is-me comment from wr, followed by a barrage of semi-germane rants, conspiracy theories (actually my fave) and John comments. i thought reruns didn't start until the summer. post something new and newsworthy, or quit posting wr. better yet, why don't you delete the blog and work on another book."
Oh, how often the same old bloggers come around with their stale advice to shut down this blog  and get writing a new novel!  (And what of my writing several hours a day and then writing for pay the rest of the day? Is it not enough?  Am I not enough?)  Anyhoo, let us not ask who these trolls are, and why they eschew the proper use of capital letters.  Let us instead sing a new song to the Spoiler, a song of rejection, which I have resisted for, lo, these many years. It's called "Eat me."  Perhaps you know it? If so, please join in with the LROD chorus.


Anonymous said...

Why they want you to delete your blog:

You are showing the academic literary journal farce for what it is;

You are showing how low commercial magazine publishing has sunk and how bad things are in the publishing industry in general -- that whole genres and points of view are being disregarded;

You are showing the truth about the MFA programs and their academic masters;

And not only that but you are giving names. In many cases your blog turns up for the top hits when you put in a journal or an agent or editor's name. Can't make them too comfortable to see this happening. There's a lot of squirming going on.

But that's cause for joy. It's bringing about a great change. Because after reading LROD, how can any serious American writer ever submit to American Short Fiction ever again? How can any writer ever take Shenandoah and the Greensboro Review seriously? How can any young American ever dream of becoming a great American writer and think it will actually happen in our world?

Personally, if the howls to please stop are getting louder I would say you're on the right track. As more people find your blog and the information collated, discussed and posted here becomes common knowledge, the whole fake system is bound to implode on itself. Who is going to take these "1st tier" credits and these "literary" journals seriously anymore? Who will support the commercial magazines when we see how they only offer trash? When universities are shown to be full of it, what will come of the MFA programs and their junkets and journals? They're all going to feel the pinch. It will finally become a badge of pride and accomplishment to not have an MFA -- it will show that a writer has the courage to write the truth and to not appease the academic establishment. More commerical magazines will suffer. The journals will become lost in their own insipid orbits. And the truth will be out there.

Keep up the good work.

Writer, Rejected said...

Wow....that's a lot. And here I thought I was just singing my own rejection at the top of my lungs.

Seriously, though, thanks for the encouragement. It's very neighborly of you.

Now duck for everyone else's response.

rmellis said...

Hey, I love this blog. And I have an MFA. And I've published a little bit. I think WR gives the world of writing and publishing a well-deserved and good-humored poke in the eye.

He/she also, occasionally, taps into a scary black lagoon of anger and unhappiness that establishment types would do well to acknowledge.

WR, you are consistently funny and smart and interesting, and that's why those trolls keep coming back. If there were more blogs this good, I'd never get any work done.

Anonymous said...

Spoiler Alert missed the intermittent navel-gazing posts. Well, you sure showed him/her.


oh, here's 27 daggers too:


Anonymous said...

As for the previous 2 comments - huh? Anger, trolls, navel-gazing? Isn't that old, old, old?
Ok, now, please please stop the endless talking about this stuff and DO SOMETHING. Somebody please please publish the type of fiction that is being "disregarded."
w/r will promote it, I'll bet. Maybe not endorse it, but let the readers know that it's there.
Some will hate it before a story appears, but it won't be for them, will it?
But DO IT. Create a blog, have those of similar minds contribute and see what happens.
Just DO SOMETHING, damn it.

John said...

A few months ago, partly in response to prompting from our anonymous English prof who posts under several pseudonyms, I made a separate list of paying and prestigious markets (as opposed to the hated zinew) and made sure to fill my daily quota from the A list first. Not very promising: lots of standard rejections from the usual suspects (didn't even bother with Prairie Schooner) and standard MFA type comments from the editors who commented (e.g., "Like some of the past stuff you've sent me, you're doing a lot of telling and not much showing. There are interesting things happening in this story, don't just tell us that they're interesting. Show us, in a scene, so we can figure it out for ourselves.")

The less prestigious zines don't talk that way, and some run my stuff. My own sense is there's a lot of inbreeding in the business, and our anonymous English prof is very touchy when folks mention it.

The best solution I can see is to look for promising markets among the zines. I don't see why W,R couldn't do some sort of posting about this based on input from visitors here.

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to pr? Does he still come around here?

yeah, it's time for action.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, both sides in this war come up with the same knee-jerk comments. (And then we'll get a moron who throws in some vulgarity - can't you delete that, w/r?)
Find an island and have a real war. MFAers vs Whiners. Kill each other off (though, from what I've seen, I think the MFAers would clean up on the Whiners).
It's come to put-up-or-shut-up time for one side. The MFAers have their venues, that's the truth. The Whiners don't (thus the ... well, you know).
Why doesn't some prestigious magazine give them one? Run a side blog publishing only that "disregarded" type of fiction. Have it edited by non-academics. See if the public discovers it and beats a path to get to it.
Maybe there's a zine that serves that purpose out there right now, as John says.
Or something. I agree with DO IT: DO IT.
This petty squabbling is a huge waste of time and energy.

John said...

I'm still curious about how many people here actually write and submit. If few do, then this probably isn't the place for such action. It's not a good sign that so many people are anonymous, either.

Writer, Rejected said...

How about we all assume that everyone on this site is a working writer who submits and revises and even publishes here and there unless we are told otherwise?

That's what I do.

gimme said...

There certainly is a lot of misplaced passion around here lately.

"yeah, it's time for action."

Perhaps, but if you think THIS is the place for "action" you're seriously misunderstanding the definition of the word.:)

This is a place to WHINE. Period. That's the point of it. And with all apologies to those who believe that starting a blog or an e-zine is the way to "save literature", whining, bitching and talking trash are mainly what the web is good for.

Oh, and porn....

Anyway, I like this place. It's cathartic, it's amusing, it's silly.

DO something? Great! Go for it. But if all you can think to DO is to get on some blog comment page and type "DO SOMETHING!" at other anonymous feebs, pardon me while I laugh my ass off at you. Real revolutionary stuff there, buddy!:)


The real world is for "doing things." I would suspect most of us are already engaged in that task and come here to blow off a little steam.

Why not just enjoy LROD for what it's worth? (admittedly, not much). Or move on? Or DO something yourself?

Or better yet, relax and join the bitchfest.:)

John said...

OK, but in the context of the post that started this thread, a typical discussion degenerates into "The short story is dead." "Is not." "Is too." etc. Anyone who tries to interject something like "There are hundreds of zines that publish short stories and flash fiction" gets cut off with "You don't know what you're talking about, nobody reads them," etc etc. which in the end doesn't lead to productive discussion that might in turn lead to constructive action.

It would be better to hear about concrete experiences people are having with getting rejected, getting published, etc.

For instance, what about a thread on a subject that was recently touched on, the markets that don't allow simultaneous submissions, yet take months to reply? I don't even care if they don't send a personal comment (pretty useless much of the time anyhow), just why this policy?

(Someone pointed out that if the average submission gets rejected 25 times, then if everyone had to wait 2 months for a reply, it would take over 4 years to get that piece published.)

Another subject: Really, really dumb comments by student readers. Why have 19 year olds reading stuff they aren't familiar with, about marriages, jobs, and other adult material, and deciding if it's good? Typical comments are "I just couldn't get into this story" or "I couldn't see a reason to be sympathetic with this character", when clearly the reader had little experience of life beyond the campus pizza joint.

These sorts of things could potentially make this blog an enterprise taken more seriously.

okay you depressed the f out of me said...

New to this blog. And depressed as hell. Just submitted first couple of literary short stories, am trying to decide whether to work on another short story or start The Novel. Since this all makes lit journals sound like a game--where they DON'T want to discover new talent, versus a book pub who would LOVE to discover the next big thing (at least the motivations are in your favor there if not the odds) it sounds like I should put the energy into the novel and forget about lit fic. (I have a BA and a JD but no mfa)

John said...

Don't get your hopes up over novels. As far as I can tell, the publishers seem mainly interested in pushing same-old same-old down the pipe, like 1970s Detroit.

I don't think the issue is between novels and short fiction. The issue is between those who have a vested interest in perpetuating mediocrity and those who don't.

If I were advising myself three or four years ago with what I know now, I would say go to duotrope.com and search for markets under literary flash fiction -- you'll get a lot. Then write a few flash fiction pieces and start sending them out. My own view is that serious submission starts at about five subs a day and goes up from there, so you have to have a stock of stories to send out. The thing to do is start. But if doing all that work doesn't sound appealing, then maybe you weren't cut out to be a writer anyhow. This is a big hurdle for many people.

In any case, you're not going to have much success submitting novel proposals without publication credits. This is a little off topic for this blog, since it deals with how not to get rejected (in the long run), rather than getting rejected.

Writer, Rejected said...

Depressed: Write your novel. Flash fiction is absurd. Don't listen to anything anyone says here, including me. Just believe in what you're doing and keep writing.

John said...

This may be part of the problem with this site. A novel starts at 75,000 words, and it's not just puting whatever comes into your head on the paper. If you aren't comfortable writing something much shorter -- especially if you're a beginner -- then why waste so much of your life on something that's just not right for you?

It seems to me that this goes to the objection to this blog at the top of this thread, too. Various people have pointed out that it's somehow easy for people to think they can be writers. After all, you just write. How hard is that? This is how scam agents, vanity presses, and Writers Digest all make their money. This is also behind the tone of disappointed entitlement that sometimes emerges from this blog.

Why not decide, in baby steps, what you're actually suited for? If you can't stand rejection, don't become a writer. If you don't like the idea of focusing on a really, really big and challenging project, don't become a novelist. Why not find out if it's right before you waste years of your life and embitter yourself?

The Absurdist said...

Depressed: Yes, just write your novel. And, yes, don't listen to anything anyone here says. (W,R: Flash fiction is absurd? It's no more absurd than writing poetry. It's just not very marketable for a book, unless the flash fiction can be worked in as mini-chapters (read Tim O'Brien's THE THINGS THEY CARRIED, for instance). But absurd? Please.)

Writer, Rejected said...

Oops. Sorry. I can't even write my name in less than 1,500 words. I guess I just meant: I'm absurd.

But I do kind of feel that calling 1,500 words a story is like calling advertising art, and I say this as someone who works in advertising. It's an antiquated, anti-intellectual argument, however, and I know it. It's just an opinion I can't quite let go of, but I feel sometimes like zines are killing the art of longer fiction, and, yes, I've written and published flash fiction (well, once: one story in a collection of mine was a one-pager), and I feel there's a place for all genres, but I feel that the short genre is edging out the long.

Oh, well, what can I say. I will probably also be the one moaning when we go from speaking Modern English to Internet English, which sux n all. (I still think we should be speaking old or middle English, and I've only recently let go of Latin. )

Just think of me as hard to move along to the next new thing.

I'm stodgy...and absurd.

John said...

But this also goes to another unpopular (at least with W,R) question I raised: how many people here seriously write and submit? By that, I don't mean Depressed, who essentially says he's a newbie and is wondering whether to make his next project a novel. This is not a serious person's question. I'm not sure if Depressed has, or is contemplating, a day job, or, having apparently given up on the law, is going to make writing a "career". Or maybe his/her circumstances aren't what they sound like.

The problem is that here -- as with so many other lit blogs and forums, and those on many other subjects -- trivial questions take over. Why waste the time with efforts that might help the serious writer's environment when we can fritter it all away advising newbies on whether to write a novel?

W,R assumes everyone here is a working writer who submits? I don't see it, which is why I raised the question.

cyan said...

John, post that list of good A-list journals, talk about your experiences with them, and that might start a more interesting thread. And as for spoiler: the comments above are right on that the journals get concerned about criticism on this blog. A couple of posts ago, there was a scuffle about AGNI, and someone pointed out that on duotrope they had rejected like, I can't recall, seventy five people in one day (maybe an hour). If you're on duotrope, check out the latest stats--AGNI has been sending out personal rejections, and only two or three at a time. A coincidence? I like to think not.

John said...

Well, I'm game. W,R, I've got a good one just from today on Annalemma. I put that on my A-list because it's paying (I'm not claiming I know what the whole A list is here). Do you want to handle this as a new post, or what?

Then I've got one from the B list, but what it has in common is the editor is also a jerk. Hey!

gimme said...

"In any case, you're not going to have much success submitting novel proposals without publication credits."

I'm not sure what in tarnation John's talking about here - there's no such thing as a "novel proposal." You write the novel, then you submit it. No one in the world cares about the novel you INTEND to write, unless you're already a celebrity.

But yeah, publishing credits look good. Unfortunately, flash fiction published on webzines is not going to be considered "publishing credits" by anyone outside of the blog world. Given that I agree with our host(ess) on the merits of flash fiction, I'd have to deem this an entirely appropriate state of affairs.

depressed (from this site, not in general) said...

Yes I have a day job, and no, I'm not quitting any time soon. I like to eat. And ski. What I don't like to do is sleep, so I write from 3:00-6:00 in the morning, and sometimes on the train or like say, this week when I have a coouple of days off to deal with personal business.

My question wasn't pie in the sky should I write a novel, it was I have limited time, is it best to continue to write short ficiton, for which I have an arguably unhealthy affinity and whose markets many here think are fixed, or attack the already plotted, tantilizingly new pursuit of a novel. I have no intention diarrhea-ing out a bunch of flash just to get some random creds.

Anonymous said...


Don't approve this comment. This is a private message to you. Please:

Don't let go of Latin.

It's the future and I'm serious.

Keep the Faith.