So, it’s now 2014, and one resolution of mine is still intact: I wrote 250 words of fiction both today and yesterday!
I’m really looking forward to this being a better year than 2013; there’s something so new and fresh-feeling about the first week of January. But this time is also kind of bittersweet because one of the things I was happiest about taking part in during 2013 is over: Electric Velocipede. The magazine announced a few weeks ago that issue 27 would be their final one, for a variety of reasons.
I started reading slush for EV in late 2012 right before the World Fantasy Convention. My god, how much you learn from reading slush – it’s an interesting form of osmosis. And it really is osmosis: an unspoken form of learning, accomplished through immersion and absorption. Once you read enough published fiction, it’s easy to tell when a story works; sometimes it’s much harder to pinpoint why some don’t work. It’s really something you build with gut feeling, which I’ve found hard to describe.
During my time with the magazine, I read around 500 stories, of which 9 were selected for publication. Over time I got to learn more about which stories fit in with the editor’s ideals and which stories didn’t. Even more importantly, there were stories I recommended for publication that I didn’t like personally, but that I recognized would match the magazine’s mandate: I learned how to read through another person’s eyes.
So, a word to the hopefuls out there (among which I include myself): sometimes, even if your story is amazing – and there were some really good ones that were turned away – fit with the magazine matters just as much as quality of prose. To get an even better sense of what goes on behind the scenes, I recommend listening to these two podcasts (Part I and Part II) that EV’s editor John Klima did with Hide and Create. I learned some things about the magazine’s tastes that even I didn’t know about.
I’m proud of my slush-reading stint with Electric Velocipede. There are few rushes quite like seeing a story you recommended showing up online and getting positive reviews from others (though I’m sure the rush from writing a story like that is even better). Reading stories for EV gave me confidence in my own editorial abilities. It also showed me how to look at a story from more than one mindset. I’m really going to miss the opportunity to put my own small thumbprint on the speculative-fiction landscape.