They Need More Spaceships and Explosions

by syaffolee

The Death of Fiction? (via edenza) is a misnomer.  If you think that “real fiction” is defined only as literary and not anything else, then okay.  But fiction encompasses a lot of stuff. It should be The Death of  Literary Short Fiction Magazines.  If it was really the death of fiction, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling and Dan Brown wouldn’t be published.  Bookstores would be eliminating their fiction sections, Ebay flooded with Danielle Steel novels (if it isn’t already), and fanfic sites abandoned.

There is one particular statement which struck me as a bit elitist:

The reality is that not everyone can be a doctor, not everyone can be a professional athlete, and not everyone can be a writer. You may be a precious snowflake, but if you can’t express your individuality in sterling prose, I don’t want to read about it.

I think that anyone can be a doctor, athlete, or writer.  But you have to work hard at it and not think that you’re entitled to all the rewards because your mother said you were awesome after you dabbled in it for about an hour.  Sure, talent is involved in writing, but like everything else, most of it is actually just doing the work.

Otherwise, the author does make a valid point that writers should write stories readers would like to read.  However, it also makes sense that the editors themselves make some changes rather than only blaming writers and university presidents who have to think about the well being of the educational institution as a whole and not just one department.  Writers may provide the creative material, but it is the editors who shape the magazine.  For example, maybe they could change their submission guidelines to request stories that are more relevant to the current cultural zeitgeist.  Or they could cull through their thousands of submissions and actually choose stories that are reader friendly rather than obvious navel gazing with big vocabulary.  Maybe then the lit mag can be saved.

Then again, lit mags seem like such a 20th century thing.  Times are changing and there are other outlets–other more widespread outlets–where so-called big ideas can be introduced.  It seems far more appropriate to propose the avant-garde with something that actually is cutting edge.  I don’t even watch the television or get the dead tree newspaper anymore.  Old media distributions are fading.  So how can booklets with tiny circulations even compete?