Two Writers Talking

Saturday Night

Ineeda Syzygy: "Another rejection from the Bull Manure Review?"

Alice Hemingway: "Horse Manure."

Ineeda: "All rejection slips are horse manure, if you ask me."

Alice: "It's the Horse Manure Review."

Ineeda: "What does it say?"

Alice: "'The surprise of Vendetta's arrival is not sustained over the entire course of the story.'"

Ineeda: "That's a logical impossibility. A 'surprise,' by definition, is a one-time, one-shot event. How can a writer possibly sustain a surprise?"

Alice: "I guess that's all the Horse readers could come up with."

Ineeda: "Maybe your story isn't in line with their theme. What is their theme?"

Alice: "Arrivals."

Ineeda: "Maybe their readers don't read past the titles. What's your title?"

Alice: "The Arrival."

Ineeda: "Change your title to 'The Departure."

Alice: "Ineeda, the theme is 'Arrivals.' A title like 'Departure' wouldn't be logical."

Ineeda: "I rest my case."


Sunday Morning

Alice: "Ineeda, go back to the part about your publishing history. Read that to me again."

Ineeda: "Ms. Syzygy's stories have appeared in The Wart Hog Revel, The Pigsty Surfeit, The Bore Constrictor, The Water Buffalo Eclipse, and Washed Up All Right. Syzygy has a story forthcoming in Slush Pile."

Alice: "I never heard of those magazines."

Ineeda: "They're privately published."

Alice: "By whom?"

Ineeda: "By me."

Alice: "Ineeda, you can't do that. You can't just make up names for magazines and say your stories were published in them."

Ineeda: "Why not?"

Alice: "Editors you submit stories to will find out those magazines don't exist. Then you'll be blackballed."

Ineeda: "But those magazines do exist. I just put six or eight stories together with a cover that says Slush Pile, for example, and--voila!

Alice: "Do other writers get to publish stories in your magazines?"

Ineeda: "Of course not."

Alice: "What are the requirements for a publication to be a literary magazine?"

Ineeda: "None."

Alice: "May I submit a story to one of your magazines?"

Ineeda: "Absolutely."

Alice: "Will you read it?"

Ineeda: "Editors of literary magazines don't read stories. They have readers for that. Volunteers."

Alice: "Does Slush Pile have volunteer readers?"

Ineeda: "Not yet. But I've applied for a grant."

Alice: "Ineeda, how many publishing credits do you have?"

Ineeda: "Seven hundred."

Alice: "If you are the only writer a magazine publishes--well, that's nepotism."

Ineeda: "Nepotism--widely and shamelessly, if not universally, practiced by literary magazines--means favoritism shown to relatives or close friends. I can't be accused of nepotism, because this is just me."

Alice: "You're right about the nepotism. The last issue of one of the most prestigious literary magazines in the country just published seven stories, and three of them were by that magazine's 'advisory editors'--make that 'close friends.' That's 43 percent nepotism!"

Ineeda: "Outrageous!"

Alice: "What this country really needs is one great big Slush Pile for all those relatives and close friends. And the rest of the magazines for the rest of us."

Ineeda: "Then do you think I'd have a chance to get published in a magazine that wasn't mine?"

Alice: "Your chances would increase by 43 percent."

Ineeda: "Alice, send me one of your stories. I'll take a look at it."

About the author:

Arlene Sanders is an Appalachian Mountain writer, born and raised in the South. She has fiction published or forthcoming in literary magazines, including ICONOCLAST, SANSKRIT, WILLARD & MAPLE, TERTULIA MAGAZINE, WRITERS POST JOURNAL, EDGAR LITERARY MAGAZINE, MINDPRINTS, SUGAR MULE, and SLOW TRAINS, among others. Her work has won awards in the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Contest, GLIMMER TRAIN's Short-Story Award for New Writers, the E. M. Koeppel Short Fiction Awards, and other writing competitions. See more of her work at and write to her at