It's a sad day when someone is too busy to read, you say? Oh, I've been reading...
Since Every Day Fiction started accepting submissions on July 21st, I've been reading an alarming number of flash fiction pieces every day. EDF is a new web magazine— literally brand new; our first story was published on September 1st— and I am one of the editors. The managing editor is Jordan Lapp, and our web master is Steven Smethurst; both are great guys and I love working with them.
I am EDF's Slush Mistress, which basically means I get the first read-through of everything that comes in (for anyone who doesn't know, the "slush pile" means unsolicited submissions, and at this point all of our submissions are unsolicited). Our market is flash fiction, which— thankfully— means that we don't accept anything over 1000 words... but we're averaging 7 new submissions a day, and that number is rising steadily. I write a comment for every single story, then file them in our database for Jordan to review and add his thoughts.
The writing of intelligent comments is, to be honest, more of a challenge than I thought it would be. It's natural have a gut response to something one reads: something along the lines of "I didn't really like this story, but I'm not sure why..." or "I sort of liked it, but it's not the best thing I've ever read..." Unfortunately, comments like that aren't helpful to the author, or even all that helpful to Jordan in making the decision whether or not to publish the story. Occasionally, I'm lucky enough to read something so perfect that I can just write, "I loved this. It's perfect!" That message is perfectly clear to both Jordan and the author— unqualified praise. But usually, I have to think pretty hard about what to say. How's the prose, the writing itself? Just competent? Well-crafted? Poetic? Or unfortunately not up to EDF standards? Does the concept behind the story make sense? Is the plot interesting? Original? Did I feel gripped by it? Moved? Touched? Chilled? Was I satisfied, or did I want more from the story? I swear, writing comments about stories is almost as hard as writing stories!
In case anyone thinks I'm complaining, I'm not. I absolutely love the work, and it's such a privilege to read the stories that authors from all over the world are sending to us (yes, from all over the world... we've had submissions from such varied places as Australia, Brazil, Belgium, India, Israel, and Pakistan, as well as the U.K., the States, and Canada). As a writer myself, I know how hard it is to send your dreams off to be judged, and I'm lucky to be the one reading them. Being an editor is a bit like motherhood, really— the best work in the world, but sometimes also pretty tough.
But anyway, that's what I'm reading right now. And you can read the best ones too, at http://www.everydayfiction.com/— we publish a brand new flash fiction story every single day.