Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Writer and the Literary Press: The rejection and the acceptance

Once the best possible short story (or poem) has been written, rewritten and rewritten again, then the best market has been discovered and the submission has been made, we wait. That's right, we wait.

We wait some more.

Seasons change. And we wait. In this waiting process, there are a few things that can happen. First, there is excitement, after all, we've just written the best poem (or short story) and we've let it go out into the literary world. Then the excitement wanes and uncertainty creeps in like a Lovecraft haze slowly infecting us. Did we really write the best piece? Was our cover letter good enough? Did we pick the best magazine for the submission? Are we really fit to be writers? And we wait. We wait some more.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Writer and the Literary Press: Ready, Steady, Submit!

Now comes the big moment. The big unknown moment. The unsteady, the unsure, the insecure moment. This is the moment to get others involved in our creative work. Strangers. It's time to submit.

For most writers of fiction and most poets there is only one type of submission: the unsolicited manuscript. Fortunately, most literary magazines only accept one kind of manuscript, the unsolicited. With the unsolicited manuscript comes a great deal of the unknown. With the great deal of the unknown comes the inevitable and the relentless line of rejections.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Writer and the Literary Press: The Prepared Manuscript

More than 30 years ago, I learned to type. I learned on a massive IBM Selectric. The Selectric typewriter was an unbelievable machine. It's size was impressive, if nothing else. It hummed. I liked the humming. It grew hot to the touch, and at times it was almost untouchably hot. It was a Gatling gun for my thoughts. However, in 1986 in Mr Archer's typing class, my thoughts were not more advanced than the exercises and typing drills presented to me. All said, I type nearly every day and I still use the things I learned in the 8th grade typing class.

Sure, I have my own ideas about how a manuscript should look. I have that 20th century sensibility. I like wide margins. I am a lover of Courier. I know that certain fonts will have certain affects. I mean, if you want all characters to have the same value, use Courier. However, your manuscript may not be taken seriously by an editor, especially one who has never seen an IBM Selectric if you use weird fonts. As for me, as an editor, I prefer Times New Roman 12 point font. I think it's pretty much the standard anyway, or at least the default. If you want varying fonts, get into design.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Writer and the Literary Press: An Introduction

When I began my life as a writer of fiction, I had it in my mind to write novels. All I wanted to do was write the sort of book that I like to read. Or the sorts of book that I might like to read should they exist. Of course, when I began my life as a writer I was not, and I really mean that I was not, writing novels. I wasn't really writing fiction. Well, I don't know what I was writing, but I was writing.

I think there are many writers like me. I think many of us start in the same sort nebulous way. I think it's common to want to write a novel and begin with character sketches or vignettes or pieces of writing that may or may not read well. I think the transition from these small literary studies to micro or flash fiction and later on into the short story is very logical.

I also think that a writer can spend an entire lifetime learning the best way to craft a short story. I think a really good short story is uncommon. I think a writer must write at least 100 bad short stories to be able to write a decent story. I think it takes at least 100 decent stories to write a really good one.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Call to Arms, 2017. The Conclusion.

The longer it all goes on, all those things that infect us every day, the more I say throw it all out and go make art.

There have been a few of my friends over the last few weeks who have asked me “What is art?” Good question. I really have no specific answer to that. The second question has been what is a “Call to Arms?” Here it is, in a nutshell. A call to arms, at least as far as I know it, is to get up and go. Go arm yourself and fight. I propose that we all arm ourselves with pens and paintbrushes and electric guitars. It’s my desire that everyone gets out of the rut, off the sofa and to the creative space all human beings have in them.