There were large words said, like interstitiality. There were confessions made, like what submission errors are head-bang worthy. And finally, there was talk about the future of fiction, and this, according to our editor-in-chief, might include movie reels sourced directly from our craniums.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
What happened was this: three candid editors of fiction-focused magazines pulled the curtain back and gave us a peek into their slush pile, their wish list, and their ongoing crusade to publish the best stories no matter the media, size, shape, or style.
The roundtable interview is a must-read for writers and readers alike, but here are some quotable moments.
On what they’re looking for:
I’m ready for anybody to give me something good on their own terms. –Spryszak
I’d love to see more quality experimental fiction. –Limpede
What I am interested in is true and real and I am not vaguely interested in hip and fashion. –Potter
Readers want to be enveloped in a story – isn’t that WHY we read? it takes us somewhere else – but the cool pose of reported or indirect speech bores me to tears. –Potter
I’d suggest our submitters find writers whose work just moves them along so effortlessly that they’re on page ten before they even know what hit them…[but] don’t let the inspiration move you to duplication. –Spryszak
I think the word ‘had’ qualifies as a mistake about 80% of the time. –Spryszak
On the slush pile:
I’ve had writers who’ve pulled their work just because it had been more than 6 months, but they had made it through several readers and to my desk. Don’t let impatience rob you of opportunities you may not even be aware of yet. -Limpede
I received a submission just yesterday, which actually looks (and reads) like spam. Even the email address looks spammy…(Although maybe the submitter is really clever, and is preempting the yet-to-be-announced spam them on Pure Slush?!) -Potter
…[read] submission guidelines.. –Limpede, Potter, Spryszak
I can’t say I’m a huge Hemingway fan, but look at The Old Man and the Sea. Like it or not for what it is or who wrote it, it is at least technically pretty near perfect for its form. He just went through the story. That’s all. No mucking it up with half-ass observations in the middle of slamming a paddle into the shark’s head. -Spryszak
My own favourite author for a long time was Ellen Gilchrist. I loved the drama and flair and the ease of her writing, and her writing made me laugh a lot. -Potter
…Aimee Bender and Amy Hempel. Bender for her ability to balance even the most fantastical stories with arresting emotion, and Hempel for her brilliant narrative voices and attention to details and rhythm. -Limpede
On the future:
…novellas… -Limpede, Potter, Spryszak
…someday we’ll be able to strap a visor over our eyes and see our imagination play out as we read… –Limpede, somewhat out of context, but still, how much do we love our editor? A lot.
End story: don’t miss ReviewReview’s interview. It’s a rare opportunity to be a fly on the wall. Read it here, and then resume your normal activities wiser and entertained.
Oh, and for your information, interstitiality means “relating to, occurring in, or affecting interstices.” I had to look it up, and you should know, everybody else did too.