Fall 2013 Edition Introduction by Fiction Editor Craig Wallwork
This Fall edition marks my one year anniversary as fiction editor with Menacing Hedge. And wow, what a year it has been. I've read some amazing stories in that time that have left me wondering if I should continue to write myself, and others that have inspired me to want to write more. This Fall edition is no different. I should pre-warn you though before you venture too deep into this edition, keep an oxygen mask close by. These stories and poems will rob you of breath.
This past year has also allowed me the opportunity to converse and coerce with some literary heroes of mine who have blessed us with their work; writers like, Etgar Keret, Aimee Bender, Andrew Kaufman, Amelia Grey, Stephen Graham Jones and Adam Marek. But more than anything, being fiction editor for such a wonderful journal as Menacing Hedge has enabled me to see the other side of publishing. When you're a writer, the editor is an almost mythical, an Oz-like creation, or perhaps perched like a stony-faced gargoyle in the belfry of their ivory tower, talons clicking repeatedly on the "reject" key. You couldn't be further from the truth. Most of us don't even have talons. What we endeavour to do is discover the best stories out there in a very limited time period. We have lives, and though we love what we do, we need to balance that with making a living and holding down some kind of existence. Below I offer to you some of the truths of submitting that I've gleaned this past year. It will vary from journal to journal, and the popularity of said journal, but hopefully you'll understand a little more about the editing process, and in turn, give your submissions a better chance of surviving our talons! I mean, making through the slushpile.
1. Get to know the staff. I don't mean take them on a date (though if you're offering a free meal, I may be persuaded to meet up). It's nice when the covering letter is addressed to the fiction editor by name, not just a generic moniker. It makes it more personal, and shows the editor you've taken the time to research the magazine. I understand some journals don't disclose their editors, and some journals have more than one editor, but if you can find any information on the staff to give it that personal touch, it really does make a difference.
2. READ THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES! Honestly, they are there for a reason. The quickest way to get a rejection is to blind submit a piece of work hoping it'll fit. DON'T DO THIS! We know when you've read the magazine and we know when you haven't. Read the guidelines, and see if the story you have meets the criteria. If not, move on.
3. READ THE MAGAZINE! You must read at least one edition. If you've not done this, ask yourself why are you submitting your work to a magazine you've never read. It's the literary equivalent of giving blood. You wouldn't let some drunk in the local bar spike your vein and drain you of 470ml. No, you make sure you're giving that part of yourself to the right place, and that others will benefit from it. Do the same with your poem and prose.
4. Avoid the slow burn. You may be surprised by this, but you're not the only person who submits stories or poetry. I know! Shocker. Behind you are a hundred different writers waiting for a chance, and in front of you are a hundred more. All these stories need to be read. If you think about it, a fiction editor may get anything in the region of 50k to 70k words during a submission period. That's a novel. It's probably more depending on the popularity of the magazine. You can't expect an editor to read every single word. You can't. That's why you must never hold back. From the start you have to grip the editor by the throat and don't let go until they have finished. There will be some submissions that never make it past the first few paragraphs. Some don't even make it past the first few sentences. Grab the editor and don't let go.
5. You should never take a rejection personally. Sometimes the story or poem is great, but it just doesn't fit the magazine. Sometimes it's just down to timing. And sometimes you may have just caught the editor on a bad day. It's never personal, and rarely is it a reflection on your talent as a writer.
Kelly Boyker: Poetry editor
Craig Wallwork: Fiction editor
Gio Guillemette: Technical director and paperwork dealer-wither
Dickens: Chief of paperwork interference and specialist in rendering all untethered small objects to the Taking Things Place, wherever that is.
Menacing Hedge is a quarterly journal of poetry, fiction and artwork, which is committed to fostering access to emerging and experimental poetry and prose. Ongoing publication is scheduled for the first weeks of July, October, January, and April. Menacing Hedge will carefully archive all its editions to ensure that an author's/artist's work will remain on the web for many, many years to come. Regrettably, Menacing Hedge cannot pay its contributors at this time.
Menacing Hedge accepts only original unpublished literary work; however, it will consider literary work on a case-by-case basis if it has appeared only in print but never on the web. In the case of art and photography, it is acceptable if the piece has appeared on the artist's website or elsewhere.
Upon acceptance of a literary piece, Menacing Hedge obtains first publishing rights and then all rights revert to the author. Menacing Hedge requests that if a published piece is later published elsewhere, that Menacing Hedge will be credited with first publication. Also, Menacing Hedge reserves the right to publish the piece in print.
If we decide to accept your work, we will also invite you to submit one of your most cringeworthy efforts from the misty past to Menacing Hedge's evil twin, Scary Bush. Please see the Scary Bush page for examples.