Wednesday, October 31, 2007

mundane.py now closed for business

Posted by goatchurch at 4:43 PM
Friends, it is with great relief that the www.freesteel.co.uk/cgi-bin/mundane.py webservice is now closed. Over the past few months it has swept up hundreds of submissions with very little problems (other than a few #'s in the text now and then when people used funny characters). I have now typed the following three lines in the requisite place:

print "Status: 301 Moved Permanently"
print "Location: http://mundane-sf.blogspot.com"
sys.exit()
For anyone who's late, I recommend a quick trip over to ralan.com to find another place to drop off your work. It's finally time to put a lid on this collection point.

If you need to make a comment, the best place to do it is through this blog because it's public enough that I can be shamed into monitoring it. The email mundanesf@gmail.com is still there (and is the reply-to for all rejection notices), but it doesn't get checked as frequently as it should be.

So, that's it, aside from the backlog and my slower than expected reading speed. The writing so far seems pretty literate, which means I must read to the end of most of them. The most common niggle is that stories are not ambitious enough. It seems harder than expected for people to break away from every-day concerns and current affairs into the open territory I am looking for.

Rejections ought to start finding their way through the system during next week as we whittle it down. Thank you for your patience. Hopefully I'll have something to say on many of them. I am a writer too and I have always been deeply infuriated by empty form rejection letters over the years. Now that I have experienced the other side of the equation, I see why it happens, even with the best of intentions.

I've got two reasons for it so far. The first is the means of selection. If you scan through the submissions looking for the two or three winners you can use in the next issue, that doesn't mean you necessarily have anything to say for the ones which have fallen out. Even if you did have a comment, you've probably forgotten it by the time things get sent.

The second reason is that good writing takes a lot of time. Editors know that inevitably their rejection letters are going to be badly written; they don't have time to draft and redraft it; these artistic judgment thoughts can be pretty hard to put into words. This is unfortunate when writers (like myself) are going to hang on every word. Don't do that. Join critters.org for genuine feedback.

Hmm... I wonder if I should put a standard disclaimer at the bottom of each email, like you get from people in corporations telling you that you will be sued if you use any of the information against their boss's financial interests.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just FYI, Rudy Rucker has written a response to Geoff Ryman's Mundane SF Manifesto in the Oct. 2007 issue of New York Review of Science Fiction. The response is snarky and not very convincing, but you might want to check it out.

11/03/2007 06:44:00 AM  
Blogger goatchurch said...

I tried to look it up. What a revoltingly bad website the NYRSF has. Even its wikipedia page is considerably more useful.

I don't think we need to take lessons from reactionaries who are this far behind the times and who don't like diversity.

11/08/2007 01:57:00 AM  
Blogger Jetse de Vries said...

>>>>The writing so far seems pretty literate, which means I must read to the end of most of them. The most common niggle is that stories are not ambitious enough. It seems harder than expected for people to break away from every-day concerns and current affairs into the open territory I am looking for.<<<<

This is also true for the normal Interzone email slushpile, and is probably a common occurrence (Kelly Link already mentioned this over a year ago on the Online Writing Workshop): writers do their homework, attend either online workshops and critique groups, or physical ones, meaning that in most cases the writing is quite competent. However, the subject matter often lacks both scope and ambition.

Personally, I'd rather see a writer reach for the sky and fail spectacularly than one writing a perfectly competent story about a perfectly common subject.

>>>>I am a writer too and I have always been deeply infuriated by empty form rejection letters over the years. Now that I have experienced the other side of the equation, I see why it happens, even with the best of intentions.<<<<

Reading hundreds and hundreds slush stories in a limited time is a very illuminating experience: every writer should try it, if only once.

>>>>Hmm... I wonder if I should put a standard disclaimer at the bottom of each email, like you get from people in corporations telling you that you will be sued if you use any of the information against their boss's financial interests.<<<<

If I provide personal comments, then I preclude with a disclaimer like: "Here are some comments. Please don't take them personally, as we reject stories, never people. Also this is meant to give you an idea what works for *our* magazine, and other editors may very well disagree."

Something like that.

11/08/2007 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger Poppak said...

Geoff,
Wow. I must thank you for your in-depth comments in your response to my submission; you are correct in your post here, as a writer it is what we crave but seldom get. I am sure you get a ton of submissions, and I truly appreciate the time you took to respond to me, and the fact that you liked my story.

Larry

1/23/2008 12:32:00 PM  

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