July 11, 2014 § 6 Comments
It would not be accurate to say that the internet blew up yesterday with talk of the odd TriQuarterly “we didn’t actually read your work” clarification e-mail, but the small world of internet literary magazines did begin to rumble. This morning, TriQuarterly managing editor Adrienne Gunn came into the discussion and tried to clarify.
The email that was sent was a sincere attempt on the magazine’s part to rectify a bad decision. I understand why people are upset. I’m a writer and have spent years submitting to magazines and it’s a tough process. With recent staff changes we realized how far we had fallen behind in submissions, and didn’t want to prevent authors from publishing their work elsewhere.
Well, you know what? I think I understand.
I edit an online journal that receives about 250-300 submission per month. I am also a writer, and want to honor the honest efforts of other writers: beginning, emerging, established, and even the occasional superstar who shows up in the slushpile.
We hate to keep folks waiting, and we hope for the best every time we open a submission file, but – to be honest – there are days that I look at the queue and just cringe.
How could we be so far behind?
How will we ever process so many essay submissions?
Maybe we can just fold the magazine and sneak out of town.
TriQuarterly, it seems, had some staff changes, and in that change someone recognized the enormous, too-long-in-waiting backlog, and decided to say “no thanks” to the work, thinking it best if the authors sent the work elsewhere, to magazines perhaps not so far behind in reading and responding. That strikes me as a good thing. Not perfect, but under the circumstances, better than just holding onto the work for months and months more.
The problem is that the second e-mail, the one explaining “… due to very high volume and limited publication space, our staff was unable to review your submission. Our intent was to give you the opportunity to publish elsewhere, though I realize that our original email was not as clear as I had hoped. I apologize if this has caused any confusion.”… came after the first. If the first e-mail had explained the situation in full, a few folks would have been miffed, but it would have been no big deal.
I personally think TriQuarterly’s editors did the right thing. They just did it in the wrong order.
Dinty W. Moore is editor of Brevity, and has been for 18 long years. Some days his eyeballs feel as if they’ve been punched. Full disclosure: He has published work, both print and video, in TriQuarterly. He has also been rejected by them, and by many other fine journals.