January 09, 2008
If you don't have anything nice to say...
I have read and responded to all of the submissions for Flash Fucking. The book is far from complete, because now I have to put the stories in order. But that's the fun part.
Now, you know that my goal is to keep my blog positive. Yes. Definitely. Always. I don't want to be snarky. (Well, sure I do.) But after reading through more than 600 submissions, I would like to say the following.
Here are ten reasons why I didn’t choose your story for my book:
1) Your file wouldn’t open. I ask people to paste subs into the emails, but I will take the time to open Word files when I receive them. I have no idea why, but several people sent me Excel files.
2) You paid no attention whatsoever to the word count in my guidelines. I received several 6,000 word to 8,000 word submissions. My call was for fewer than 1,500 words.
3) You sent me a story where characters were bleeding from their eyes. (What is it about not too dark that some people don’t get?)
4) You sent me a story in which people made love in a violent rainstorm or in a the steamy surroundings of an orchid hot house. I received more than 20 of these. Go figure.
5) You fucked your mother. (What is it about no incest that some people don’t get?)
6) You talked in detail about the diamond-like glitter of precum on a lover’s cock. This is like Olivia Knight’s ode to dust motes: Every novelist, at some point in their career, and often at some point in every book, will describe the dust – the golden motes dancing in a shaft of sunshine, glittering in the late afternoon stillness, spiralling like a stream of cosmic particles, twirling their infinitesmal and tiny brilliances, or what you will. It’s been done.
7) You used one or all of the following terms: spooge, choate, jizm, man-meat, liver-like, or bulbous purple mushroom head…
8) You forgot to put sex in the story. I’ve done this myself. Recently. Sometimes a story gets away from a writer, and wham—you find yourself at the end, with two or more unsatisfied lovers and an unused condom. Maybe the story will work in a different forum. But not for me.
9) There was a goat in your story. (What is it about no animals that some people don’t get?)
10) None of the above. Your story was perfect. From word A to word Z. You’re a better writer than I am, Charlie Brown. But the piece simply wasn’t my type of story. This happens. You’ll read the finished book and think, Man, my work is way better. But here's the thing—I’m working on a balance. I want hetero, lesbian, gay, solo, orgy, BDSM, spanking, vanilla, oral, anal, silly, sweet, and yes even slightly dark. And for some reason, your piece simply might not have agreed with the others in the book.
Number 10 accounts for the majority of the rejections. Great story, stellar writing, just didn't work for me. Those are the most difficult ones to reject, because no editor wants to say "No" to good writing.
The good news? I'm working with a huge amount of new names. At least, new to me. I'll do a tally, but I think at least half of the writers in the book are people I've never published before. I think that's really exciting.
Now, back to Open for Business, already in progress.