Apocalypse and rejections

So, I forgot all about this acceptance until a vibrant copy of Apocalypse Literary Arts turned up in the post. Sadly, it wasn’t in tandem with another chocolate and dried fruit bar from Green & Blacks (but I live in hope that the next magazine publication will repeat the dual delights of Wet Ink and Green & Blacks!) but one can’t have everything.

I do like this cover – nicely designed and full of detail instead of being either blatant or boring (I have ‘issues’ with many literary magazines and their cover art choices) but I could pick a little bone with the typeface used for the interior: it’s just not as black as it should be, and as it’s a sans serif font, it really needs the crispness of good contrast to be an easy read. The content, once you’ve strained your eyes a little, is a nice blend of poetry and short fiction, quite crisp in style and definitely youthful without being juvenile.

The only problem with going on holiday is the rejections – six of them had piled up when I got home! When they turn up one a day, or one every couple of days, it’s not so obvious, but when you get to wade through four online and two postal rejections in an hour, it can dent the psyche. I ate a Walnut Whip and the dent was smoothed out as if a psychic panel-beater had come along and knocked me back into shape!

On the other hand … (and there is always another hand, if you look for it sensibly) I’m reading for Our Stories this year, and it’s an interesting experience. I try to read for a different journal every year, as that exposes me to a very wide range of writers and writing: of course it’s voluntary work so I need to measure the time I give to slush reading against the learning process it delivers to me. Here’s what I’ve garnered from my first month’s reading:

There are new clichés in literary fiction that should be avoided. This year a lot of writers are exploring what it means to visit a foreign country: Russia, Afghanistan, China, Lima have all turned up in my slush – and in each case the protagonist doesn’t speak the language, is going to college, and sees or experiences something inexplicable. Hmmm … does nobody ever go abroad having learnt the language, or to work? Does nobody ever go abroad aged six or sixty? Why are foreigners inexplicable? Bearing in mind that I’m a foreigner myself, and I speak two languages, and lived abroad for several years before I went to college, this world view is as inexplicable to me as foreigners are to the writers I’ve been rejecting. The thing is, all these stories feel the same and read very similarly, and while none of them started with somebody waking up in the morning or the weather conditions (two big no-nos of writing), most of them ended with some event of inexplicability that was very much like ‘and then I woke up’ (the third big no-no) slightly transformed into ‘I saw this weird thing happen and then I went home’.

So rejected on one hand, and rejecting on the other, without any Green & Black’s chocolate (but that’s okay as I don’t have a third hand to hold it in – see how stoic I am?) I am looking forward to August and swimming on Brighton Beach - there's always something to do to get you over rejection!

Labels: , ,