The truth is, we do what’s important. The things that keep getting done when we’re too busy to breathe are the things we refuse to let slide, out of habit and necessity both, like breathing. And it’s okay sometimes that things fall by the wayside.
My ideal title lies somewhere in between the two poles of “painfully obvious” and “horribly obscure.” It suggests what the work is about without blaring it through a megaphone, it alludes to layers of meaning within the piece, it has maybe a touch of humor or mystery or intrigue to it.
I keep thinking about a Vulture article I read a few weeks ago that tracks the evolution of visual style in comic books through one hundred single pages. If you haven’t read it, it’s here, and it’s long and in-depth and very much worth checking out, even if you don’t read or even care all that much about comics.
Stephen King says the road to hell is paved with adverbs.
Mark Twain tells you to cut out your adjectives.
Myriad other writers have joined the fray, too, to the point where it’s established wisdom: don’t use adjectives, and really don’t use adverbs, unless you absolutely, utterly, incontrovertibly must. (And even then, you probably shouldn’t.)
Automata’s next story launches March 13th, and boy, this one’s fun: prehistory goes amok! In the meantime, we’ve assembled a few links to some of the more interesting pieces out there on subjects we find insightful/relevant/horrifying.
I read George Saunders’ short story “Sea Oak” the other day. (It’s in the Barcelona Review—read it here if you want to avoid spoilers.) It is deeply weird: the main character works at an aviation-themed male strip club called Joysticks (of course), there’s a television show called How My Child Died Violently, and the main character’s grandmother dies and then returns as a zombie with psychic powers. She sits in a rocking chair and issues orders to her grandchildren while her reanimated body falls apart.
We hate it, okay? No way around it: we do not like telling people no. If we had our way, every story in our inbox would be mind-twistingly brilliant and we’d only have one response for every story we ever see: Yes.
I’ve been debating digitizing my library and reading electronically. There is difficulty and frustration involved in making space for a sizable collection of physical books. Yes, the dream is the big room lined with mahogany shelves stocked with beautifully-bound leather volumes, but let’s get real: that’s a long way off, for me.
Here at Automata, we think a cover letter—the email you send when you submit work to us—should be functional and to the point. We’d love to tell you that you don’t need a cover letter at all. But they’re helpful, if for no other reason than they make the submitter (that’s you! Or you, soon, we hope) a little more human.
Originally, I was going to throw a together a lighthearted commentary outlining a few of the reasons we’re rejecting stories from our magazine. I’m not good at that sort of thing, however, and it came out sounding like ivory-tower jackassery aimed at changing what you put on your pages. I mean, spell stuff right and build interesting sentences, be surprising, push boundaries, yes, all of those things. But do all that in your own way, not the way anyone else says you should. Shit. I’m prescribing again.
Instead of continuing in that vein, I think I’d like to just talk about some books I’ve read recently that exemplify what we’d like to see in the pages of Automata.