A Vast Public Collection of Literary Rejections
Thank you for sending us "Title". We appreciate the chance to read it. Unfortunately, the piece is not for us. Thanks again. Best of luck with this. Sincerely, Fugue
Dear Radek,Thank you for submitting your work to OH NO MAGAZINE. Unfortunately, we do not find them a right fit for our second issue, but we thank you for thinking of us. We know that sending your pieces for consideration requires a leap of faith, especially in the case of a new venture like ours. We hope you’ll consider us again in the future and keep an eye on ohnobooks.com for news about issue releases and future events.Best,S.E. Smith and Adam Atkinson, EditorsLEEP OF FAITH? lol , i don't know about you but "oh no" is not lotto
I've never sumbitted to Fugue since, like a good little writer, I read an issue once and decided my work was not a good fit. Curious me, wondering if anything had changed, I read three pieces from the current issue posted on the web. Though I found the pieces well-written, I also found them tedious and hollow. Curiouser me, wondering if it was just me, I forwarded them to a friend, who found them disappointing and too mimicking (poorly) of others' styles (DFW, Lorrie Moore). Look on the bright side. A rejection from Fugue doesn't indicate whether you are a good writer or bad, but an acceptance confirms the latter.
I get a kick from people who think their own subjective tastes can somehow be used as objective criteria for judging the writing of others. So much so that even association with the disliked writing serves to replace thoughtful evaluation itself.Barcode indeed.
Are there are any objective criteria for judging others' writing, except for basic things like spelling and grammar, or shallow things like fads? As far as I've seen, everything comes down subjective tastes, whether you are a writer choosing magazines to submit to, an editor selecting pieces for the next issue, or an agent choosing what books to rep. It's an exaggeration to say that being published in Fugue means you're a terrible writer, but people are free to say that they publish terrible stuff and to make exaggerated claims. My only objecting to Barcodeman's analysis is that his sample size is way too small to be taken seriously.For what it's worth, I read the three pieces they posted online and felt that the short story really was truly awful. Probably the worst short story I have read in a while. Whoever said it was a poor imitation of Lorrie Moore is dead on. Then again, it's all subjective. :) The two poems were quite enjoyable though.
Yeah, I didn't much care for the story either. I think the samples are from an issue on experimental (or playful) literature and that is more often done wrong than right, imo. It was competent though. I've read some pretty good stories in Fugue before.BTW, The writer of that story is editor-in-chief of the Bellingham Review.
BTW, The writer of that story is editor-in-chief of the Bellingham Review.Wow, that makes it all the worse because you know Fugue probably solicited the author, or they made some kind of professional deal with one another. (I've been through the MFA system; that's what goes on.)If they chose that out of the slush pile, you could accuse them of having bad taste, but at least there's some authentic ownership of that bad taste. It's more honest, you know?Oh well, life is short and the politics of putting together issues of Fugue is not my problem. (Thank God). I can't spend my time worrying about why bad writing gets published. It just does. :)
I didn't think the Brenda Miller story in Fugue was bad. It wasn't amazing -- it's not going to vie for the best story of the year -- but it's also not as atrocious as you all made it out to be.The prose is controlled and professional. The last line is wonderful. The second person is always in danger of veering into iffy territory, but she pulls it off as well as can be. I like that she uses the home as a expanded metaphor for a life.In other words, those of you who said this was the worst story ever either have very snooty tastes or only read the glossies. There. I've actually said things about it. You all insinuated some things about literary insider trading and said it relied too much on Lorrie Moore, but I don't think you said things about the piece itself.
Fugue is for creative writing professors to pad their CVs. Most of their pieces are written by faculty at schools with MFA programs, or editors of other literary journals. I wouldn't take rejection to seriously, nor would I judge an author's overall talent based on a piece published in Fugue.If you were a creative writing prof, you would submit your best stories to the glossies and send your B-stories to some little-known university-based journals like this one and all the others that get bashed here. You know you would; it's just practical. It looks great on your CV to have stories published in a wide variety of magazines, and if you're a prof you're a shoo-in for Fugue et. al. Plus, since they're not a glossy and they know it, they don't have such high standards. I don't hold it against the contributors for doing exactly what I would do in their shoes. Academia is a tough world and all too often it's quantity that counts more than quality when it comes to funding and tenure.The moral of the story: If you've got a trunk full of so-so boring derivative stories that you want to see in print, become a creative writing professor. Resentment is pointless.
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