Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Keyboard: Mightier than the Sword

All right, here goes -- and this is a rant this time. For centuries, literature has been at the forefront of political and social changes. So what's going on now?

So here it is, the 21st century, and we have the most amazing new medium in AGES -- the Internet. Why, without the Internet I wouldn't be publishing this right now.

So why is it that most of the "revered," old-school literary magazines not only don't have online submissions set up, but refuse to even accept manuscripts by email? It's absurd and it's insulting. First of all, it's a waste of paper to have thousands of writers send manuscripts through the mail. Not to mention, most aspiring writers certainly don't have the money for all that postage and paper. One can only hope the old-school literary magazines recycle.

It burns me up. It probably burns up a lot of people.

What is heartening are the literary magazines out there that do try. For starters, publications like McSweeneys, which publishes both an Internet and print version of its publication.

Glimmer Train, Conversely, and Night Train spring to mind as literary endeavors that have online submission systems. Kudos to them as well.

What should likely be the vanguard of the call for change in the literary submission process is a Canadian magazine called NFG -- short for No Fixed Genre. It specializes in edgy, in-your-face fiction, but what stands out (other than its call for content that will knock people on their asses) is its revolutionary submission system.

When you submit through NFG's site, you can track your manuscript's process through the different tiers of the magazine's editorial collective, culling comments on your work along the way. I myself have never made it past the first cut, but find the idea refreshing. Also, if you don't make it through the first cut, you generally know within 24 hours. Talk about an efficient process.

As much as it might suck to get the heave-ho so soon (despite the fact that NFG's editors generally give helpful feedback for your work), it seems a far better way to go than the months of silence as your story likely sits, without a glance, on somebody's desk at The Atlantic.

In short, there are so many ways that the literary world could wake up. Here's hoping for some positive change in an area that could use a little bit more evolution into the Internet age.

Thanks for reading,



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