Thursday, December 18, 2008

Stand by your acceptances...

I was going to do this as my letter for the next issue but F' it, I feel like bloggin' yo.

In Posse Review has been around for a long time. At last count 25 issues. A story of mine was accepted in July of this past year. You can see it now online, it's a small short story doing a small thing. Funny thing about the publication--it was accepted in July but when their issue went up my story wasn't around. Running a literary journal you can imagine my surprise. When you put up an issue missing a story that you'd accepted is a nightmare. It's something that keeps me up at night. So when I didn't see my story I quickly had a panic attack and spasmed my keyboard into action. I wrote the guest editor who had acceptd my story. This is what she had written in July:
I'm happy to say we're accepting What Do You Think for In Posse Review. Please be kind enough to re-send it with your bio pasted in at the end of the story. I'm having cut and paste problems here and am unable to pull off that simple task just now. Should be easier than travelling 8 hours, huh? Thanks very much.
I mean it's clear right? Doesn't get much clearer. Then this is what she wrote after my spasm:
I am very sorry that What Do You Think did not make the final cut- the editor in chief, of course, makes the final call. I must have either been unclear or failed in my "attachment" techniques- but please do know I liked it a lot and that you ought to submit it again or elsewhere if this has done more than puzzled you. I have had similar experiences myself, and it doesn't feel good, I know.
There's no last review, no next round, etc.. When you work at a journal you have to be 100% clear about these things. Now here's my point. Sometimes, it's not about your work. Sometimes it's not about acceptances or rejections. The editors themselves don't have a clue as to what they're doing. The whole incident floored me. There are gatekeepers out there and you just have to plow through rejections and even some acceptances.

So what happened? Well, I went off on this guest editor and cc'd the editor of In Posse Tatyana Mishel who is a damn saint. Within a day she wrote me back and said they had no idea what the guest editor was talking about and put the story up immediately. This is what she said:
I'm so sorry to hear about what's transpired--your story being accepted and
then. If your story was accepted by Margaret, the guest fiction editor, then
it should be accepted. (Do you by any chance have the original email where
she accepted it?) As Editor, I give full reign to our guest editors and do
nothing else than facilitate the story going live. I have never vetoed an
acceptance after the fact.
So this story has a happy ending. However, I want it to be a lesson to all of you. Sometimes a journal out there doesn't have a damn clue. I'm serious. I can't vouch for everyone out there. Not everyone knows good writing--shit--sometimes I don't fn' know good writing (that's why I depend on my staff too) and you should never EVER let this system beat you down. Keep FN' writing. Keep getting your stuff out, ignore your rejections, revise your work till it is accepted and even if it is accepted and then rejected, get it out there again.


justin nicholes said...

It's true. Some great writer who died in a motorcycle accident back in the early eighties once said all editors, by profession, are insane...

Jocelyn's stories said...

Sending out stories is risky business. But it's comforting to know that everyone---even editors themselves---are in the same wobbly boat: at the whim of busy, imperfect gatekeepers. (And that the story prevailed in the end!)