The Santa Fe Literary Review
Fiction Editor for the 2011 issue
Slush Pile Roulette
The slush pile is where it all begins for the fiction editor. Now, of course, in order to get that pile accumulating a call must be sent out for submissions. Miriam Sagan put an ad in Poets & Writers for The Santa Fe Literary Review asking for poetry and flash fiction (stories up to 1000 words) with an edge. The deadline for the submission is Dec. 1, 2010. That was the official call, but there are many others. The fiction and poetry editors of the magazine have taken to the classrooms and the streets to rustle up writer’s to send in those pieces that have been sitting in their file cabinets and under their beds, drag them out, and get them shined up and spit-ready for submission.
Most writers have heard of the slush pile. There’s even a literary magazine out of Cambridge titled The Slush Pile. They pack up hundreds of rejects from The Harvard Review in wheelbarrows or some such, and roll them back to their homes to rummage through them, searching for lost nuggets like sifting for gold.
So, every two weeks, I meet with Miriam and pick up the accumulated manuscripts that have been mailed in and take them home to read. I think I can be safe in stating that almost all poetry and fiction editors are writers or have been at some point in the past. Why else would we do it? We love writers and we love to find those gems in the stacks that work for our particular magazine. We also know the joy and relief of deigning a story or poem finished. That means we have worked it over, for who knows how long, and either work-shopped it or sent it to those writers we trust to give us their final critique, until we feel ready to take that plunge and send it out. We send our babies forth into the unknown hands of editors across the map to usually wait for months, but sometimes just weeks due to online submission internet immediacy, in hopes of a communion with that stranger reading our poem or story who says, “YES, THIS IS IT,” and emails us back with a congratulations and an acceptance into their magazine.
Most writers, who have been sending out multiple submissions for months or years are usually inundated with rejections. Believe me, a lot of the submissions that are rejected by twenty magazines or journals could one day be rejoiced and picked up by another magazine. A lot of the rejects are beauties that may not fit within the criteria of that particular journal they were sent to, so we can’t give up!
The reward is always in the work, and we as writers know that, but let’s face it! We all want to be read. We yearn for an audience out there in the cosmos to feel something, anything, from those words we scrawl on the pages and string together into poetry and stories.
I am excited to be a fiction editor for The Santa Fe Literary Review’s 2011 issue. I love and anticipate receiving your work! The deadline is Dec. 1, so please keep sending it in! We couldn’t have an incredible magazine without you!!!