Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wait, I'm supposed to be in school...

Hello Reader.  I'm writing to you from someplace other than my dorm room.  Amazing, right?  I think so. I'm in a computer lab.  Waiting for a class to start.  Because my days are always hectic, and I find myself living on campus rather than in my dorm room with my satisfying video games, laptop, and bed.  I haven't worked a lick on Proxy Wars: Dramatis Personae in some time.  Is it my fault, or am I going to blame my schoolwork for that?  I don't even know that yet. 

But that's not troubling me so much.  A) I've already written about time management, B) I'm pretty sure whining is not going to get me more blog readers.  What's really troubling me is the lack of attention being paid to the slush pile.  For those of you who don't know what that is, the slush pile is the aggregation of any unsolicited manuscripts that are sent out to publishers and agents by first-time authors. I've read a couple of interesting articles about the death of the slush pile - one of which you can find here.  It's disheartening to see what I think is an art form die.

The slush pile is a random pile of crap mixed with more chance than a Monopoly board.  Should I put a TM there?  Maybe when this is more popular.  Anyways, while the slush pile's cons are very large, I believe it's pros are much larger.  New writers bring new ideas.  Don't tell me there are no new stories.  You're right, and everyone else knows it.  So stop pretending you're intelligent.  What there are plenty of, are writers capable of telling the same stories over again in new and exciting ways.  The slush pile can give publishers and agents exactly that. 

Now by publishers, I mean Penguin and HarperCollins and another major "label" out there.  So one can imagine the girth that such a company may bring to finding new authors and new stories.  Is that an excuse to ignore the musings and hopes of so many voices?  I don't think so.  I'm not that well-versed in economics, and I'm definitely a new guy to the publishing scene - so new I haven't even been published yet!  But what I am well-versed in are second-chances and lucky breaks.  Because I've had several of them.  I've been given so many first chances and "Hey why don't you try this, and if you fail, we'll try again huh?"'s  that my life story is due in little part to my own machinations.  I've been the beneficiary of so many other people's generosity.  And I've done pretty well so far with all of that lovin'.  So why can't others get that treatment?

Why can't I get that treatment?  You can see where I'm coming from.  A place of greed and supplication.  I want to be lucky enough that publishers and agents will notice me in the slush pile.  I want to be that ridiculously blessed bastard who only sent out 15 query letters, got 10 rejections, and because of some secretary's mistake wound up with the rival to Harry Potter's ubiquity - I am so calling you out Stephanie Myers.  The death of the slush pile is killing that greed, replacing it with a forlorn sense of WTFery.  As an aspiring author, all I can do is look at articles like the Wall Street Journal one above and be catatonic with doubt.  Has anyone watched that movie?  It wasn't very good.

But why is it an art form, you, that anonymous reader who doesn't comment very often, ask?  Because voice is an art form.  And the slush pile gives you some of the most varied and wonderful voices you can imagine.  It's variety that's the spice of life, right?  Then again, they also give you crap like this:  oops, no one puts up stuff from the slush pile because they think it's not worth it.  Dicks.

Sorry about that.  I'm trying to make a more concerted effort at trying to stop my bitterness from making me digress.  It's difficult.

Anyways, I think I've found a way around the slush pile.  Whether I like it or not, the thing is dying.  The economy is forcing agents to be more wary of fiction, and publishers have outright refused to see anything that's not agented.  So I have to adapt to the times.  My solution?  Or desperate plan?  Submitting to literary magazines.  I've already got Westwind Literary magazine in my scope, and maybe I'll start writing some short stories so I can submit them to some other magazine.  God willing, one day I'll get to win an award or be published in a prestigious anthology.  Here's to hoping.  So that'll be my question of the day: What literary magazines do you know of?  Do you know anyone who's been published in one?  Leave comments, directions, and e-mails to those people, if you know them, below.  Until next time then.

1 comment:

  1. My first point will be to point out that the slush pile an agent receives is basically the same as the slush pile a publisher would receive, right? I think it is kind of lame that they're pushing a large part of the publishing process onto agents. I know economic times are hard, but I think it would be nice of them to hire a bunch of little bibliophiles and make them shift through all those proposals and manuscripts and everything. Pay 'em minimum wage, write 'em a letter of recommendation when you're done, and voila! You've done a public service and kept the process alive. I dunno about you, but I'd love to wade through the slush pile and find the few gems buried within.

    Point two is... there's a HUGE list of literary magazines in Writer's Market, which is handy. I've never actually come across an actual literary magazine. It's on my list of things to do but I have barely enough time to keep up with novels! Though it'd probably be fun to have short stories to read during the short downtimes between classes and etc... I digress. No, I don't know of any magazines and I also don't know anyone who has been published in them. I know that getting published in lit. magazines is such a good thing when you're a budding author but I really would rather invest the time in my novel... Let us know if you do get around to writing short stories. It'd be interesting to see what the lit. magazine world is like.