WHAT THE HELL

Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

A cautionary tale for writers

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!

6 comments on “A cautionary tale for writers

  1. TamrahJo
    October 8, 2020

    Congrats on the publication! Re: comments – sigh – reminds me of the ‘Those who can …Do! Those who can’t……Critique..?? LOL

  2. Marie A Bailey
    October 11, 2020

    Just consider what a miserable life that person must live. Congrats on the publication 🙂

    • Kevin Brennan
      October 12, 2020

      That’s what I was thinking … but in a much coarser way. 😉

      • Marie A Bailey
        October 13, 2020

        Snicker … but you have seen the other comments? Don’t let one “resident critic” ruin the pleasure of several complimentary comments. By the way, I loved your bit of fiction. A volcano popping up in someone’s backyard. Sort of the flip side of Florida where we have sinkholes that suddenly open up in someone’s backyard.

      • Kevin Brennan
        October 13, 2020

        I did see the nice ones, and appreciated ’em. But the a’hole put a bad taste in my mouth because he seemed to make a point of being the first. Probably his M.O.

        I wonder which is worse: a sinkhole or a volcano … ?

      • Marie A Bailey
        October 15, 2020

        Sinkhole. Tragic true story: a sinkhole opened up under a house in Tampa (I think) during the night. One guy fell into it. I don’t think he was ever found. His brother almost fell in. At least with the volcano, you can get away.

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This entry was posted on October 8, 2020 by in Publishing, Writing and tagged , , .
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