What a magazine editor owes a writer

A fascinating debate has begun over at Kelly J Spitzer’s blog. If you’re one of the many writers who doubles as an editor, even ‘trebles’ as editor and copy-editor, as I do, then you do get to see this problem from a wide range of perspectives. One of the most interesting things, to me, is that there’s a huge difference in genres when you meet editors talking about rejection letters. The literary fiction world is much more ‘suck it up and move on’ than the science fiction world, which is generally more collegiate and supportive (not in terms of individuals being nicer, don’t get me wrong, but in terms of having message boards and forums where writers foregather) and the poetry world can be very nasty indeed when it comes to critique from editors.

If only there was a way to show the average (or even above average) writer just how many stories arrive on a editor’s desk and cannot be distinguished one from another. The number of dead dog, college break up and ‘it turns out they were married all along’ type stories one has to read is downright morbid, and finding fresh reasons to reject them can test the ingenuity of the editor more than the writer ever tested theirs in the construction of their narrative!

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