The Long Story, Short Journal is accepting submissions through 30 April. Some words below about which stories are most likely to be published. But first:
Two recent stories you should check out!
Jamie O’Connell’s ‘Pussy Bratchford is on the Verge of Becoming a Good Christian’ is a portrait of a drag queen in Dublin who is mulling over the legacy of distance and feisty rebelliousness in her family which shaped her. (Story dedicated to Panti Bliss.)
Jude Cook’s ‘School of Life’, a look at writers and rejection, and how rumination ends in obsession. Cook is the author of the novel Byron Easy.
Submissions: A note from the editor, Jennifer Matthews
Indulge a cranky preamble (positivity will follow). The Long Story, Short Journal submission guidelines page receives SIX TIMES THE VISITORS than any of our excellent stories. If you haven’t yet read any of our stories, please take a look at the great work on offer here. Please. Restore my faith in writers–reading superstars like Alice Munro, Junot Diaz, George Saunders, Edwige Danticat is fantastic, but don’t forget to check out what your other contemporaries are doing. More importantly, don’t submit your work to a journal if you aren’t already a reader.
How is short story writing like figure skating? (Bear with me here.) On one hand, for those sending out their work to journals, the scoring system seems quite ‘opaque’. It’s hard to know what an editor is looking for, and it can feel like publications are all wrapped up for friends of the editor. The following is an attempt to make my process of choosing work for the Long Story, Short Journal a little less opaque.
When Adelina Sotnikova took the gold at Sochi, she won based on racking up points for technically-perfect moves at the expense of a more artistic performance. Fans of figure skating were irate at South Korean Yuna Kim’s loss, which was more aesthetically beautiful. Similarly, one of the biggest surprises for me as a new editor has been how disappointing it is to read technically perfect work, where the author executes the plot arc with precision, but hasn’t been brave with language or storytelling.
Choosing stories for a journal can never be objective, as writing fiction will never be objective. I have my preferences. I love work that forefronts what language can do. Unique metaphors, well-wrought phrasing, pitch-perfect dialogue, and engaging descriptions of place always grab my attention. Don’t mistake this for ‘flowery’ or ‘over-egged’ writing. Hemingway is one of my favourites for his ‘clean, well-lit’ prose. His starkness is consciously chosen.
I’m also interested in literature as a midwife for compassion. If the writer cares for their characters, no matter how dark or flawed the characters are as people, it shows. Also, if the story is a mouthpiece to get back at the author’s ex-girlfriend or father or employer, it also shows–and it’s rarely readable. That doesn’t mean ‘Don’t write from a place of pain’. Do. But let the pain leave your body, to exist on its own, so that you can work with it rather that re-experience it. You wouldn’t expect a date to listen to you rant about your ex-lover, so why would your readers want to hear it? Politics and philosophising create a similar quandary. Of course politics and philosophy are important–but the message never gets across in a story if it reads as a lecture. Put us in the story of the problem you are concerned about, and your reader will draw their own conclusions.
In short, I will always take a somewhat flawed story which is innovative with language and tells me something crucial about a person or a situation, over a technically perfect story that doesn’t engage me with its style or soul. HOWEVER: if your story has received a rejection letter from the Long Story, Short Journal that certainly does not mean your work has no ‘style’ or ‘soul’–we receive hundreds of stories, and room for only one story each month. That’s a lot of competition. Go easy on yourself while keeping a critical eye on your work. Try, try again.