Volume 21, Number 3

A Few Quick Thoughts Regarding G. D. McFetridge’s “Show Us, Mr. Faulkner”

Fred Schepartz

Gotta say, this piece had me at hello. The idea of some assistant editor, armed with a fresh MFA and loads of self-importance, getting punked like this, well, it amused me to no end. But more importantly, I feel this piece does something very important. It starkly illustrates corruption in the publishing industry.

I’m not talking about graft or anything like that, but rather corruption as in decline. I’ve railed on this for years. Editors don’t edit. I don’t even know what they do. Most submissions are handled by assistant editors whose main job is to make sure the editor isn’t bothered by something so annoying as, uh, fiction.

Sure, cream will rise to the top, but that becomes harder and harder when you have a system of gatekeepers designed to keep the castle safe from the invading hordes of barbarians. And yeah; then it’s a question of not what you know, but who you know. The result is some very good work gets ignored.

And then they have the utter absolute gall to call their submissions “slush.”

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, at Mobius, we don’t use the term “slush” to refer to anyone’s work. We don’t use the term “slush pile” to refer to our submissions, as if they were a stinking mass of excrement.

I consider the use of those terms patently offensive. It is demeaning and disrespectful. I recently commented that, as a Jew, I would be less offended if someone called me a kike than if they referred to my work as slush.

F.J. Bergmann, who is my fantastic poetry editor and webmaster, had some issues with McFetridge’s piece and felt compelled to write a rebuttal. I have to say she makes some fair points. I agree that if you keep getting rejected, you need to take a good look in the mirror and perhaps look to other people to critique your work. Recently, in a totally different context, I had the misfortune of dealing with someone unwilling to seek and unable to accept critique of her work. It was not pleasant, to say the least.

I can’t disagree that essays like “Show Us, Mr. Faulkner” can sound whiny and immature, but I know G. D. McFetridge. I know his work. And you who faithfully read what we humbly publish know his work as well. He deserves the benefit of the doubt in this case.

Bergmann also points out that getting to know magazines and journals before submitting your work can go a long way toward getting published. Truer words have never been spoken.

And lastly, I have to agree when she asserts that there’s no guarantee that we will be treated fairly when we submit our work. The world is not a fair place. Nobody owes anybody anything.

Except at Mobius. It is my promise that your work will be considered fairly. That’s the way it’s always been, and that’s how it will always be.