Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Sometimes...just sometimes.

It seems to me that New Zealand writers and the NZSA and Creative New Zealand and the Book Council will never grow out of this idiotic belief that pretentious arty-farty 'literahry' writing is great writing. Whilst searching for a market for a story I came across this print journal, an American well established Small Press one, called 'Iconoclast'. Its submission guidelines sum up perfectly what I want to shout at New Zealand writers.

Prose: To 3500 words (occasionally longer). Subjects and styles are completely open (within the standards of generally accepted taste—though exceptions, as always, can be made for unique and visionary works). We like work to have a point or more. We don't care for the slice of life type of story—or any other kind in which characters are unable or unwilling to change their own conditions. Most stories of alcoholism, incest, domestic and public violence are best left to the mass media. Anything topical has probably already been overdone. Simple storytelling usually wins out over slickness of style or the perfectly crafted workshop, MFA story about nothing or the author's neurosis. We never look down our noses at plot. Nor are we immune to the power of a literary stylist. With the possible exception of mysteries, most genres written well, sincerely, and conscientiously have a chance. Humor and science fiction are hard sells (too often these writers think an interesting concept can substitute for a plot or an original ending), but we do publish a fair amount of both. Politics and religion are best left to the demagogues and hypocrites. Killing a character-(s) off in the end usually indicates a lazy or unimaginative beginner. Will we ever publish another bar room story? I don't think so.

Is a cover letter really necessary? We don't do bios (as iconoclasts, we're not into personality cults or self-glorification). A good writer can make us interested in nearly any subject or person. Essays that are merely undocumented opinion or op-ed style pieces have little chance.

Please don't send preliminary drafts—rewriting is half the job. If you're not sure about the story, don't truly believe in it, or are unenthusiastic about the subject (we will not recycle your term papers or thesis), then don't send it. This is not a lottery (luck has nothing to do with it).

Wonderful stuff! It's the difference between writing for other writers to admire your work and writing to share something with readers. I wish Kiwi writers who all want to be literary writers would grow up and remember that if it's fiction they are writing then it should be a work of imagination to share with others as in the good old days of storytelling when people gathered to hear 'Once upon a time...' or 'Listen and I'll tell you a story.'

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