Thursday, December 29, 2005

Another Day at the Office

My day started when I stumbled on a new story by the editor of an ezine. I read it and was stunned how BAD it was. No, that must be me, I thought, I'm missing something.

So I posted it blind as a ringer in Boot Camp and so far it's scoring an average of 67. If I tell you that 110 is the benchmark for publishability in a small paper journal, you get an idea of how not-good was this story.

Let's say I'm a little bit harsh (I scored the story 73 trying to be kind). The story still falls WAY short of minimal quality, even for a zine. How then is this guy an editor and what does it say about the stuff he accepts or the critieria for acceptance?

There are editors of other ezines or magazines who CAN write, but a brief surf on the internet will find you "editors" and even judges, and Oh my God, TEACHERS who can't write at all, who are actually seriously bad.

I received an email from one zine advertising a writing school based with a "women's writing showcase". I knew of the zine, and knew how weak a lot of the work was, but what of the writing school?

I took a random tutor name, went to her home page and found two stories. They were appalling and scored 69/63 when ten Boot Campers critiqued the story blind.

Beginners occasionally score 40-50, more usually low 60s, and they can, if properly taught, quickly reach the 90s and then 100-110. The naturals go way beyond this.

But what freaks me is the self-delusion when people are set up as TEACHERS on paying courses and their work is so bad. If they were writing par work, solid but undistinguished we might argue that they aren't "brilliant" but perhaps could teach. But if they can post "examples of their work" that are so dire, what then? Presumably if a student wrote a similar story it would glean the highest praise?

What does this say about the parent ezine, the writing school as a whole, the individual tutors, the deluded students? What does it say about the lower end of web publishing, the showcases, the pretty but vacuous sites? What does it say about web publishing? How does this garbage drag down what would otherwise be a far more respected way of publishing and being read?


1 comment:

Alex Keegan said...

"How does this garbage drag down what would otherwise be a far more respected way of publishing and being read?"

Ouch! Lee, that could be taken two ways!

I'm going to take it to mean that an AK webzine would be a bit classier (cough)!

Running Seventh Quark has taught me one thing andd that is how easy it is to get "OK" stories (in Boot Camp terms 100-115) but how hard it is to get seriously good stories.

I am determined not to simply "fill" the magazine because many if not most of the magazines outside the top ones seem to do that.

Ask yourself these questions. Think of the last few literary magazines you've picked up. (a) How many of the stories did you read? (b) How many stay with you?

I see no point in publishing "just passable", "me-too" fiction.

I guess a slowly accumulating zine might be interesting if it only took stories over a certain (tough) standard.