At the end of last year I stopped accepting submissions of short fiction to The View From Here. I’d become quite overwhelmed, every day several more stories to read, and something strange was happening…
Of course some of the submissions only took a quick look to see that they weren’t for us – wrong style, not the right level of writing, wrong genre (novels, children’s stories). And the odd one would still stand out immediately. But many of them, many more than usual it seemed, blurred together, indistinct from one another. The writing was good but I have to admit I’d lost interest.
I think I had run into fiction fatigue.
After a two-month break I’ve re-opened to submissions and the new stories are flooding back in. The quality is good, and I’m enjoying reading them again.
I’ve decide that I get a diminishing return when reading short fiction. Like drinking a cold beer – the first one is wonderfully refreshing, the second is good too. The third is simply because you like the taste and the fourth is pure gluttony. It’s the same with tapas. Even if the whole menu looks delicious, you can’t taste everything. Even if you had the budget, after the first few different tastes you’ve already had a belly-full.
I’m talking about food as an analogy, but it works in other areas too:
Have you ever been into a perfume counter, shopping for a gift? After the first three or four scents, everything seems to smell the same. And when I go to an art gallery I only ever want to see one or two rooms. There’s just too much to take in otherwise and I find myself glancing over paintings which deserve more consideration. Sensorial saturation.
But if this is all true, how does one get through an ever expanding inbox of short-fiction submissions – or for that matter, if you are an agent, a slush pile of novel queries – giving each one the time and consideration it deserves?
Answers on a postcard please.