March Madness Begins

Ever notice how in almost every magazine's writer's guidelines you'll find the ubiquitous phrase: "We want your best work." Like that's really going to stop writers from submitting shitty stuff. Or what -- are those writers with the shitty stuff only submitting to the markets that don't put that in their guidelines? Come to think of it, I think I even included that "we want your best work" line in the guidelines for the anthology. Obviously not many people followed that, but oh well.

Where am I going with this? I have no idea. But last week I saw a listing for a new print magazine that plans to publish in -- get this -- April. It pays twenty bucks. Thing is, this magazine doesn't have a website, at least not one I could find. Hmm, okay. I Googled the editor's name to see what would come up, but hardly anything did. So you have a brand new magazine that you hope to publish within two months but you don't have a website yet? How, exactly, are readers (let's assume of course there are people interested in not just buying a copy, but actually reading it) supposed to order? Yeah ... thanks but no thanks.

This of course begs the question: in today's modern era, does every writer need a website? Not necessarily, though some kind of web presence would be preferable. But a magazine or publisher -- do they need a website? Um, that would be a most definite yes.

Recently I borrowed a bunch of burned DVDs from a friend of mine. Last night my wife and I watched Hostage. Or tried to watch it. Everything was fine until the very last few minutes of the movie, where it skipped to the ending credits. Nothing I could do would give us those last few minutes. I'd seen the movie before, so I wasn't too bummed, but this was my wife's first time watching it and she wasn't a happy camper. Not after investing over an hour and a half into a movie and then being thwarted out of the last couple minutes. But I guess that's just a risk you take when watching burned DVDs. If you listen carefully, you can hear the FBI sniggering ...

By now I'm sure everyone's seen that post about a bunch of famous writers' ten rules for writing. My favorite from the whole bunch is Philip Pullman's:

My main rule is to say no to things like this, which tempt me away from my proper work.

I have to smile every time I read that line. On a personal level I've found it to be more and more true lately, in terms of writing flash and short stories. I have fun writing them, I like having them accepted and then published, and I love when I hear from people who've read them. But honestly? It's all very distracting from bigger projects that actually carry more weight. Not that flash and short stories aren't important, but right now I need to focus on projects that will, hopefully, bring in some money. Not "proper work" yet by any means, but one can always dream.

I have some stories coming out this month, about four or five if I'm not mistaken. And looking at them, it seems these are all "realistic" stories. Or "traditional" stories. Or whatever you want to call them. Basically, if you like your stories weird and off-beat and speculative, you'll have to look elsewhere. You ain't gonna find 'em here (or wherever they're published).

The first is up today at Emprise Review. It's called "Point of View." It appears along with stories by Gay Degani and a bunch of other writers you probably recognize. My thanks to Roxane Gay and Patrick McAllaster for being kind enough to publish the piece. Later this week I'll write a bit more about where the story came from, but for now, enjoy.