Friday, October 19, 2007

full houses empty hearts

I got my first office job about a month ago, and I'm still getting used to the whole office environment. One of the things that's new for me is the level of chatter. The five of us in my office spend the majority of our waking hours together, and cubicles don't offer much solitude. That leads to an ongoing conversation about what we've got going on in our lives outside the office. I'd never had any real interest in getting to know my co-workers before, and I still don't, but now I've got no alternative.

Surprisingly (or not, depending on your views of contemporary society), the majority of the conversation relates to purchases. I bought this, I'm going to buy this, I wish I could buy this, I bought this but I can't afford it so I have to return it. That sort of stuff.

So these people spend all their day working, and then blow the money they made on random shit, and then they have to work more. Perpetual slavery through consumerism.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Slow Hands

In a previous post, titled "Dead Words," I explained the frustration I'd been feeling with a literary mag that had accepted one of my stories and then let more than a year and a half pass without actually publishing it. By now it's been nearly two years, and my last email got the same sort of "almost there" response I've been getting to all my queries up to this point. My original intention was to withdraw the story unless they gave me a solid publication date, but instead of doing that, I asked a past teacher for advice. The teacher, Laura Walker, urged me not to withdraw the story, and spoke of delays as such a normal part of literary publishing that it isn't uncommon for one of her books to come out two years after she wrote it.

I've been thinking about that, and its given me more insight into a few of my other stories that also seem caught in limbo. Currently I've got two stories, in addition to the story mentioned above, that have been accepted for publication, but have no solid publication date. Both stories are lingering in the inbetween stage (between acceptance and publication) for months longer than the editors had led me to expect. I've also got three short shorts being considered for the Fineline Competition held by Mid American Review. Results for that competition were supposed to be announced in September. At the end of that month, they posted a message saying "Results are tallied and the winning writers will soon be contacted." Two weeks later and still no news.

Getting a story accepted for publication is hard enough, but now I'm starting to realize that acceptance isn't the end of the struggle. I'm also starting to believe that literary journals move a lot slower than they'll admit to. I guess I'll just have to adjust my expectations to reflect that knowledge.

Monday, October 8, 2007

the future of fiction is extinction

Among the cologne and wrist watch ads that make up the bulk of Esquire magazine's content, the October 2007 issue included this shocking little tidbit: 70 recreational book readers die each year, and only 2 are born. That info leads the writer who mentioned it to prophesize that books are on the way out. To tell the truth, it doesn't surprise me much at all. Of the folks I interact with on a regular basis, most of those who read books for fun are older than 40. People my own age spend their free time watching movies, or blowing cash in bars. Those of my peers who do read in their personal moments seem to do so more out of a sense of narcissistic intellectualism than honest enjoyment, and it's those same types of readers who mock folks reading for the sake of a kick in the pants.

Books are dead my friends. Thank god all those authors haven't figured it out yet.