Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Ah, That Was Fast

I believe it was just yesterday that I was posting about all the manuscripts I have out for consideration. I sent out another one yesterday. It was rejected today! Now that's not the fastest rejection I've ever received. A couple of years ago I sent an essay to Salon that was rejected the same day. When you consider that Salon's editorial office is on the west coast, and I'm on the east coast, what with the time change and all, that submissiion may have technically been rejected before it was submitted.

Today's rejection, however, contained some decent feedback, which almost never happens with short story submissions. And an invitation to submit more work, which occurs more often. Anyway, as a result, I have no complaints about VerbSap.

I think it's time for me to do some professional reading. I was doing that kind of thing last year and the year before and just sort of drifted away from it. I need to do some studying on writing short stories.

Could We Please Connect This to Children's Literature?

The cyberwriter world is in a tizzy over The Atlantic Monthly's announcement that it will be publishing short stories in an annual issue instead of monthly. The Atlantic and The Decline of the Short Story quotes various magazine people as saying that reader surveys indicated that readers of glossy general interest magazines just aren't interested in reading short fiction. Quinn Dalton says in the article

"One possible explanation is that short stories are a tough sell because they're short. Just as some writers make the mistake of thinking they're easier to write, perhaps some readers think they're not long enough to offer a return on what they demand: more concentration and less guaranteed payoff (such as the acquisition of new information) than nonfiction in all of its forms. Readers have to give themselves over to stories, if only for an hour or so at a time, in ways that I think even the deepest narrative reporting doesn't require. But writers have to look at what they're producing, too, and ask ourselves if we're really breaking new ground with stories that editors, and readers, will find be unable to ignore."

I agree with everything she says there. And, I, too, wonder if writers and editors shouldn't be looking at what is being published to see if there's something about the stories themselves that's keeping readers away. Not that I'm saying there is. I'm just saying the big Why? ought to be asked.

And here's the kidlit connection: I had two college students at my dinner table several times over the past weekend. Both of them prefer reading nonfiction to fiction. Why? They hate analysis. They hated having English teachers tell them what the author meant when, in their minds, how could anyone really know? They hated being told what to think about what they were reading.

I don't want to blame the decline in reading overall and reading short stories in particular on the schools, because they get blamed for everything, but maybe we've turned off a generation...or two...from reading.

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