Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Blip

I have some good news. And I'll post it now because I need to lighten the mood around this poor, desolate blog.

I was at FSU for two years. For a year and a half, I worked with The Kudzu Review, the school's undergraduate literary magazine. I never ascended the ranks to fiction editor or editor in chief. Partially because I ran out of time. When I could have had the chance to try and campaign for head editor position, I was already graduating. (And to be fair, it definitely went to people who deserved it).

Anyways--we were never allowed to submit anything to the magazine while we were working there. Obvious reasons, of course--even though the submissions given to the editorial assistants (us) were always anonymous, it's just a conflict of interest from the get-go. So staff wasn't allowed to submit and I had no plans to take a semester off from the magazine just to send in my work. Thankfully, the magazine has always allowed recent graduates to submit, so long as they've graduated within that academic year. (Probably and partially because we're only allowed to use our FSU emails and those remain active somewhere between six months to a year after our graduation).

I had a lot of fun during my last semester with the Kudzu team. And that's despite the fact that we did not get that many good submissions at the time. Or hell, maybe it's because we got not-so-great submissions that I had so much fun.

You see, when there were no authors around requiring me to be tactful, I could be ruthless in my criticisms. We were required to read the submissions before going in to discuss them. We'd have to post our thoughts in a little discussion board online and I'd just be as brutal as was humanly possible in my comments and review notes. My editor loved that. She told the other editorial assistants once that they should read the submissions beforehand "if only to read Rebeca's comments."

The fun we had discussing the submissions made the unexpected dip in quality somewhat bearable, but not entirely so. (It was also a bit tragic because the previous two semesters had been, in my opinion, particularly interesting and inventive. We'd gotten a ton of great stuff--quantity and quality). As she was also graduating, my former fiction editor left pretty disappointed, but there was nothing we could do.

That last day, as we were all crowding in the elevator, I heard which of the two editorial assistant readers were moving up the ranks to editors. One of them, Paxton, had been my classmate in my first fiction technique course. As we were leaving, I promised her and the other editor I'd send something in the fall semester. If only so they could get a laugh out of my silly stories. I figured I'd spent so much time anonymously ripping apart so many stories, it was my time to get slaughtered (and yet never know the full extent/details of said slaughtering). I promised them I'd sigh fondly after I'd get their inevitable rejection letter. It made them laugh.

It might seem sketchy. I did use to work there, after all. So I'll just say this: the submissions are anonymous for a reason. None of the new editorial assistants know who I am. They certainly wouldn't have picked my story based off a last-second conversation I had in an elevator two seasons ago. The editor wouldn't have any way to pull strings and publish me. And while Paxton and I knew each other, we didn't get to become close friends, never even exchanged numbers for class or work purposes. And, alternatively, even if we had, she couldn't have overruled the editorial assistants' decision if they'd hated my piece and decided to reject it.

Plus, I trust her to want the best for the magazine. I doubt she would have just tried to do me a favor.

That's why, knowing all these things, I was genuinely surprised when I received an email from Kudzu.

Not only did they like one of my stories enough to publish it, I also won the Fall Fiction Contest. Which means--if I'm remembering correctly--that even though Fall is an online-only edition, my story will be printed alongside next semester's publications in the Spring issue.

I read the email. I screamed. High-pitch scream and endless giggles.

I got invited to the reading, but I don't think I'll be able to fly/drive/bus to Tallahassee just for one night to read a four-page flash fiction story. Plus, in true Eternal Loser fashion, I am incapable of pronouncing my own title, so it's probably a good thing geographical difficulties are keeping me from embarrassing myself.

The story, Eidolons, has characters from Vanguard's Exodus, though their personalities are somewhat different, as are some technical aspects. (I don't like holograms in sci-fi, but for simplicity's sake, the two characters have holographic bodies in the short story).
It's Cyrano and Luna, two of the main A.I's featured in my book. They just talk. For four pages. Then it ends with a blatant reference to that classic Terry Bisson's They're Made Out of Meat story.

And that somehow won over the editorial assistant readers and the fiction editor at Kudzu. And Kudzu almost never publishes speculative fiction, let alone unabashed sci-fi.

It's a small publication. It's a small submission pool compared to other lit magazines. It's got a small readership. It was just my small story read and analyzed and picked by a small group of strangers.

But right now, to me, it's downright monumental.
~Becky

2 comments:

"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.