Thursday, March 29, 2007

I can't get no appreciation

Interestingly enough, my second personalized rejection letter in twenty-four hours dealt with lingo and dialect as well.I'm not sure when I first submitted to Daikaijuzine, but it was most likely early this year.

Daikaijuzine is an online paying market that publishes speculative fiction, horror, and the odd or intriguing literary piece. I submitted a flash fiction piece (categorized as slipstream/magic realism by the editor-in-chief) through the webzine's online submission process, so I didn't have an email record of when I submitted.

Truthfully, I forgot I had submitted to Daikaijuzine, so when I received a response, it was a pleasant surprise. It has been some time since an editor has responded to one of my submissions--not including the recent Nanobison response, of course. The Daikaijuzine editor began his email rejection letter by saying the magazine's editorial board thought my piece was well written with a solid voice, but they had two major concerns.

Their first concern was that the little boy's dialect didn't "sound appropriate for a Chicago boy." Their second concern was that the issue of homosexuality dominated the piece and "overshadowed the more interesting magic realism and surrealistic elements."Hm.

And before I get into what I did after reading that email, I must say that, as a fan of Nalo Hopkinson, it pleases me a piece of mine has been described as magic realism.

Also, I should say the editorial board did not have concerns with homosexuality as subject matter (which goes for the Nanobison editor as well), and that they "deplore homophobia and censorship of this topic in any form."

They merely thought the slipstream element was "drowned out." That being said, the editor finished his response by saying if I were willing to change the elements of the story that didn't suit the editorial board, the editorial board would consider publishing my piece.

For the most part, they enjoyed the piece and believed the writing and narrative to be solid. What wasn't as solid, for them at least, was the magic realism element. Of course, the editorial board went on to say, they understood if I was reluctant to make changes since the piece had been previously published by the online magazine Juked.

So not quite angered by the response, I read the email a few times. I can't quite say what my emotions were at the time. I wasn't angry--but I was emotional. I'm just not quite sure what emotion would define how I felt.

At first, I was determined to blog how I felt then and there. Maybe I should have, then I would have been able to capture the emotion I felt at the time. But instead I decided to email the editor an immediate response to his rejection letter.

Now mind you, this was the first time I had done this. I know how busy editors are, how their inboxes are stuffed with all sorts of mail, and how pathetic it is to respond to a rejection letter. But I felt had to do so. I mean, how is this editor going to tell me how little boys in Chicago whose mother is from Big Toe, Mississippi speak?

Granted, the editor has every right to find my dialogue, dialect and character a turn-off. But when the character's speech patterns and mannerisms are so authentic that they reflect mine and my friends' when we were growing up, I don't think an editor has a right to tell me a character of mine has an inappropriate dialect based on where he was born and raised.

So I wrote the editor and told him that. I also told him that the homosexuality issues in the story were meant to overshadow the magic realism. I hadn't initially written the flash piece with magic realism in mind. The homosexuality was a central issue of the piece, and the magic realism was thrown in as an afterthought.

Surprisingly enough, the editor responded to my email in exactly seven minutes, according to gmail. He said he appreciated my comments about the main character's dialect, but would have preferred a stronger magic realism/surrealistic element in the piece. He then "strongly encouraged" me to submit another speculative fiction piece to the magazine, and I did.

But this here could be a recurring problem for me. I'm writing science fiction, speculative fiction, magic realism--call it what you will. But I'm also writing about human issues, and it's those issues which originally drive me to craft the stories.

Don't get me wrong, though. I love science fiction. I enjoy reading and watching it. But, at least for me, science fiction has to have a bit more substance than just a cool tech gadget in the future. I enjoy allowing my imagination to run wild and writing stories which are very nearly too far-fetched to believe.

But I also I enjoy writing stories that are real and brutal and human. Hopefully, I'll find markets and editors who appreciate my writing fully and want to buy my stories.

But in the meantime, I'll continue to hone my craft.

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