Potpourri Post: Metazen, Letters in the Mail, Zouch, The Artist and more

Today’s post is brought to you random topical inspiration.

My story Baby Crazy will be published by Metazen on March 6th. That’s only 2 days away – yay! I’ll post the link on Tuesday.

Do you subscribe to Stephen Elliot’s Letters in the Mail over at The Rumpus? I started getting them recently, and I like them. He sends one email a day and it has his personal observations about things going on in his literary circle, he talks about events he may have attended or promotional things he’s doing, and of course he talks about pieces on The Rumpus site. He uses a very casual style which is appropriate since the email is supposed to be like a personal letter. Anyway, if you haven’t checked out The Rumpus, you probably should.

Zouch Magazine recently followed me on Twitter, so I followed them back. Then I went to their site because I wanted to find out more about them. Turns out two artistically inclined Canadian guys who are into music and literature decided it was time to put up their own site and do their own thing. I notice the site is very visually inclined, so some stories are represented by a picture and you have to click on the picture to get to the content. Also, they are very actively looking for people to submit content so if you’re looking for a new market to check out, they’re a place to look.

A few days ago I got an email from an editor I’ve only submitted to twice (a third item had to be withdrawn when it was accepted elsewhere) but she was so nice, I want to share what she said to me:

I really enjoyed this story.  What did you send me last time? I know that I liked it as well.

I don’t think this is quite the story for [  ] either, but I have no doubt that one of your stories certainly will be.

I was like, what…me? You only read two stories and you liked them both? But what was funny is that she never told me that in the original rejection slips. Good lesson for me kids, behind those rejection slips people are forming opinions – even when they don’t share them.

And she was SO nice, she even offered to re-read the first piece and provide more detailed feedback. I need someone to love that story as much as I do, because I’ve been trying to get Family Picnic published for years. Nate Tower just accepted the only other story I had from that long ago, so The Paperboy found an adoptive dad, maybe if things go well Family Picnic will soon have an adoptive mom. Or at least, maybe it’ll have an adoptive aunt to provide feedback that leads me to the right editorial parent.

I’ve noticed something funny is going on now with my rejection slips – most of them are getting personal responses now, and in some cases they’re saying things like “this is well written” “I like the crisp language” or “this flows well” (all comments I’ve gotten recently, by the way) even though the pieces aren’t getting accepted. Believe me, this is a significant development for me…I feel like some invisible tide is turning.

When I consider how important it is to be published in places like PANK, Metazen, Foundling Review, Spilling Ink, Bartleby Snopes (twice), Dogzplot, Right Hand Pointing, etc. I think these brand name journals are helping me tremendously as I make forward headway. Then again, I don’t put all those names on my submission cover letters but let’s be real, I always put a few.

That takes me back to something Jacob Appel said in that Tips article I mentioned in my last post… he said a twenty-something MFA student slushpile reader might dismiss you out of hand if you have no recognizable pub credits but they’ll think two or three times if you’ve got heavy hitter names, maybe a Pushcart nom, or something. Ahh, back to their hierarchy of talent, right?

I don’t know.

I’d like to believe, and I do believe, that my writing has improved over the past two years too. I’ve had so many great editors give productive feedback and I’m listening – I swear I’m listening very closely to those snippets of feedback – and maybe my nose to the proverbial grindstone, plus my successful story placements, plus the ongoing goodwill of new editors equals the promise of further placement.

Hmm. This set of observations could be influenced by the sun shining and it’s Sunday and I can go out and enjoy the day too.

Finally, movies. Or, a movie. The Artist, in fact.

I recently made some very snide comments about how would it be possible for a French film to win over an American film for Best Picture. (By the way, j’adore Paris and Viva La France…) Then I went to see The Artist.

Yeah, it’s good. It deserved Best Picture over The Descendants.

Also, now I understand why Jean DuJardin (Mr. John Garden, for those of us who speaka de English) got selected for the lead role. He has a certain je ne c’est quoi about him that does strongly remind you of old Hollywood. He was able to use his face so wonderfully, and he must be dangeously charming in France, where he speaks the native language.

But… and there is a “but” here…

Movies just ain’t what they used to be, I lament to you, dear reader.

In two years from now, I’m not going to be talking about The Artist. I’ll still be talking about how phenomenal The Departed is, and it’s destined to be a classic. I’ll talk about the wonder of The Royal Tennenbaums, the razor-sharp and inspiring dialogue from David Mamet’s Heist (“Don’t you want to hear my last words?” “I just did.” BANG) and how far ahead of its time Close Encounters of the Third Kind was as a film, yes, these movies I will watch again and again along with my romantic favorites Good Will Hunting, The Piano and Groundhog Day.

But The Artist will, to me, be like Shakespeare in Love… it was a movie I saw, and liked, but I probably don’t need to see again and again and again.

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