Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
Boy, was I happy when I got one of my new flash pieces accepted by an online literary mag! I hadn’t submitted anything new in ages, feeling like it would just be another exercise in futility, and I’ve kind of had it with those. When you gas up with futility, your wheels spin all the faster but you never move an inch.
But recently I wrote a bunch of flash stories—usually somewhere between 500 and 900 words—and started sending them around, and in about six weeks I learned that an outlet called Every Day Fiction liked my little piece, “An Impromptu Volcano.”
On the day of publication, I took a gander and thought it looked great, and I started linking to it on Twitter. Then I went back a few hours later and saw that some yahoo had left a comment on the post pretty much trashing the story! Now, no sooner do you finish reading the piece than you get his big fat thumbs down.
I clicked on his profile and found that he’s commented almost 2000 times on writers’ hard-wrought work, smearing many of them, I don’t doubt, with his fecal brand of criticism.
This is precisely why I, as editor of The Disappointed Housewife, don’t allow reader comments on the site. I want the works to stand alone there, not to be graffiti’d with any old sociopath’s verbal spray paint. It’s uncalled for. When you do that, you mar the writer’s work and potentially influence other readers, who might otherwise see the story in a more positive light.
So my caution to writers who submit to small online literary zines, and advice I’m taking myself from now on: Don’t send stuff to magazines that allow comments. They can become hostage to a handful of mean and vindictive bullies who control the “community.”
Think about it. Print journals don’t have spontaneous marginalia scribbled by readers. That’s called defacing a text. Readers get to see the pristine page and make up their own minds about the quality of the work.
Bottom line: If you click on the link to “An Impromptu Volcano,” skip the comments!