Out-of-the-blue-rant time! A rant about … vegetables? No, don’t worry. This does have something to do with writing.
Brave souls may click below to proceed. …
Okay, En Prise was submitted about a year ago. I didn’t even receive a rejection letter or a notice or anything. That’s fine, I guess. I sent out a copy to myself (for copyright reasons) and a copy to the magazine. I received my copy just fine, so I assumed they received a copy, too. But for all I knew, it could’ve been deep in Amish country being bartered for wedges of cheese.
So I moved on. I was careful not to send out En Prise to any other publications for an entire year, just-in-case. Because there was always that tiny glimmer of hope that when the Sci-Fi/Fantasy issue came out, my story could be there… After all, no news is good news, right?
So the other day, the issue arrived in the mail. I open it up.
I’ll break the suspense right now: I didn’t place or get an honorable mention or anything. And that’s to be expected. But I was excited, anyway. Excited that I was about to read some award-winning Fantasy & Sci-Fi short stories.
And maybe I could learn from these stories, maybe I could sharpen my skills and better my own short stories, making them more competition-worthy by studying the ones that kicked my arse?
I eagerly flip to the contest section. And First Place went to a Sci-Fi piece. So I get to reading it. It’s a story about … a modern day retired healthcare researcher? Sure, okay.
Paragraph after paragraph, this story’s boring me to tears. Then I realize: En Prise was beaten by a story about an old depressed guy with marital problems that talks about vegetables! Even the title of the story is – literally - a vegetable.
I double-check. Yes, yes—there it is in black and white: Science Fiction/Fantasy FIRST PRIZE.
Okay… So I continue to read, clinging on the hope that his profession might—you know—lead into something more interesting happening.
But it’s not. So I figure I’m missing something; some magic the editors saw but I can’t? Or nepotism? (Just kidding.) I mean, it’s well-written and all, but it doesn’t really start where the story starts. And it’s so watered down with trivialities that there’s an entire paragraph devoted to confusing an unimportant side-character’s name. Reading further…Christmas, Easter, combing hair, brushing teeth (Seriously—I’m not making this up. I mean, who devotes considerable page real-estate to ’brushing teeth’ in a sci-fi short story?), (turning the page)… .a lincoln town car, the Bahamas. … Finally! Paragraph 26, there’s a hint that something kind of interesting and Sci-Fi-related might happen later. But the previous paragraphs didn’t build up to it with any semblance of suspense. Keep in mind this is a short story.
Nine more paragraphs and an infodump or two later, I see the words ‘’continued on page 31’. I’m like, “No, thanks.”
I can only guess this story will eventually be about an old guy turning into a vegetable—I dunno? If it were me, this thing would’ve hit the slush by paragraph three. I know people have different tastes, but jeesh.
Maybe print really is dying. I mean, how much of a turn-around did it take just for me to find out whether or not I was published? One year. I’m guessing that with online journals (which now pay better than fiction-print venues anyway), the turn-around is far more tolerable.
Between this and learning about literary terms that don’t even exist, this magazine and I are not on the best of terms. I doubt I’ll be renewing my subscription at this point.
BTW, the other two stories weren’t bad. In fact, the third one was pretty darn good. :D
PS: In case it wasn’t obvious, I’m not really that mad.