April 24th, 2006

Trials and Tribulations of Slushing

As assistant editor, I have a fair # of responsibilites. I like to keep the slush responses on a timely schedule. I have to deal with queries and any miscellaneous junk that gets mixed in with the submissions. I critique the slush survivors. I read all the automatic passes (love 'em or hate 'em) and critique those too. I sometimes work with the slush hopefuls on rewrites, and I send out all sorts of courtesy email notifications. Many of these responsibilities are self-imposed, but in my mind they are no less important.

But, to me, the most important responsibility is finding the slush survivors. More specifically, finding ones that Shawna can use for the magazine. Rightly or wrongly, I've taken to the philosophy that in every batch of slush there is always at least one slushy gem of a story. And if Shawna doesn't pick one of these stories I've passed along, I feel as though I've failed at my job. Tastes will differ, of course. There have been some stories I've really liked that have been passed along--one that I was truly in love with--that Shawna has passed on. But Shawna is a pro. She has great taste, so I would never blame her for taking nothing. And I would never blame the authors either. If Shawna can't use anything, it means that somehow a gem slipped past my Spidey senses. It means it's my fault alone.

So far, on every full batch, I've passed along at least one slush survivor Shawna has accepted. I don't know the results of the last batch I passed along, but there were some great stories in there, so I'm confident she'll find something she likes. But this latest batch . . .

Man, oh man. This one has proven a challenge, partly because it's the smallest full batch I've ever had to deal with. Less to choose from, you know? It took me a while, meaning I've burned through about three quarters of this batch, but in the past few days I've finally started finding stuff that I like. It means my Joe Dimaggio streak now has a fighting chance to continue.

My point? Just thought it would amuse some of the writers out there that editors (or at least this one) can fret too. When I pass along my slush survivors to Shawna, I'm on pins and needles with them. Perhaps not as much as them, but I definitely care. Especially with my favorite stories (yes, I have a favorite(s) with every batch). Like the writer (and again, not as much), I've invested something into the tale, and want to see it find a home . . .a home at RoF.

So a few days ago I was fretting about finding stuff. Now I'm happy to say I've graduated to having found stories I can fret over after passing them along. Defintely an upgrade.

Later.