I spent a good portion of the day getting into some horror markets.
Y’all, yes I’ve been away from the horror markets for a long ass time. I have some issues.
While yes, I understand why people stick to it, what I don’t really like is that that format does not fit how I write. I use paragraph breaks and other things both for effect and for aesthetics. It’s just how I work and as I learned with Bernie, trying to jam that into manuscript format just changes the reading experience in a way that I feel detracts from my work as a whole.
That is something I’ve tried to change. It just doesn’t work for me and I don’t really know of a good reason to make it a genre thing. By comparison the literary submissions I’ve made aren’t nearly so precious about sticking to that one format as being the only acceptable format.
This leads into another point I’ll get to later.
The next thing is the snail mail submissions.
I mean, can we please PLEASE be in the future here? Back in the day when emailed submissions were few and far between I saw a lot of editors wax poetic about how very serious someone who submits via mail must be and how they took those submissions more seriously.
Can we not?
Additionally to go along with that while I’ve been researching I’ve seen some of the ugliest websites with awful navigation, updates that don’t match (buy the new issue but our news section hasn’t been updated since 2008) type stuff.
Even with big deal pro mags, I keep seeing this and it makes me feel uncomfortable submitting. If I am as a potential submitter am supposed to be professional enough to adhere to modified or stringent manuscript formats, how to phrase the cover letter yadda yadda, I do expect some of the same. Update your goddamn website. Or at the very least say, we’re not updating this anymore catch us on facebook or whatever.
Work it out. As a reader I don’t even want to buy a new issue if things look abandoned on the website front.
Next thing is a little controversial but what the hell.
As I was reading through various submission things and reading stories that I’ve had bookmarked for a while, I keep seeing some disturbing patterns.
I will also touch on this next week because I have one HELL of a deep review for y’all.
The amount of what I find to be weird conservatism around certain things bothers me deeply.
I have seen a lot of no bad words, or only justified bad words (the fuck does that even mean).
Side by side, I find horror markets far more constrictive and uh, stuck on the idea that if you use a lot of profanity or if a story is very violent it is just not good enough because obviously those things are bad.
My view is this.
Horror in general is not a nice place. It is a wide place, a huge place where stories can have not one fuck uttered and not a drop of blood spilt and still be amazing.
Stories can also have a lot of profanity and oceans of blood and be amazing. I don’t see or understand why there has to be such a chasm between the two.
I also don’t see why the former seems to be the correct aesthetic.
Who are these readers who are seeking horror but can’t handle someone saying fuck?
Can we not have all of these things?
As a reader it feels squeamish and very narrow.
For me as both a reader of, lover of and writer of horror I want to have the space to get into shit that is very uncomfortable.
When I was submitting this story around prior to it getting picked up a lot of the feedback was about changing it to make the narrator genderless.
Mainly because, of course the me I was working with were uncomfortable with the gratuitous violence as fantasized about by a woman.
I’m not saying that is exactly what’s going on in the industry, but it has shades of it.
I want horror that gives me something to be haunted by. I want to not be wondering how many naughty words or bloody bits got taken out.
This leads me to also think about that whole clean app bullshit. No Clean Reader. My dear friend wrote about it, read that here.
Okay indulge me for a minute.
If I am a writer and I say fuck. We the reader can believe easily that after the work has passed through varying sets of hands, the word fuck was meant.
Writing doesn’t happen by magic.
I believe in both intentional writing and intentional reading.
I am so beyond done with the idea that readers are innocent flowers who get smacked in the face by evil. I try to read reviews when I book shop and I wind up so angry.
This book had SEX IN IT OMG. You bought an erotica book.
This book IS VIOLENT. THIS HAS TOO MANY BAD WORDS. etc.
If something is adult oriented, I feel like it should be expected that there might be some adult oriented shit in it. That might be violence, it might be bad words, it might be eroticized violence, it might be a Yeti butt fucking the ever loving shit out of a prince.
I am just nerd ranting now. I’ve gotten off topic.
Okay so back to horror and my work.
I feel like the industry is not really for me right now. The things I like to play with and discover and explore are not curse, violence or sex free enough for most of the publications I’ve seen.
The other problem is that this stuff is not literary enough for lit mags. It is horror. Proudly horror with demons, ghosts, paranormal shit happening.
I don’t know.
I guess I just don’t understand how it is I could read upwards of 25-30 horror magazines in recent history and find so much of the same stuff.
A lot of it was beautifully written. Lovely great stories. Some excited me quite a bit.
But things were kind of homogenous.
The same gross outs- periods, fat women, etc.
Carefully non profane language.
Well done but I am missing the edge. The fear. The thing that makes me love horror.
That being what it is, I will probably continue to keep mine in my little etsy shop. I posted a few etsy links up there and I have a new story available in the shop right now.
Experimental horror involving drug use, disbelief, demons and change. Content warning.
This is grown folks lit.
There are bad words, pretty wicked dude, demons, desperation and metamorphasis. Filtered through the lens of a former drug addict. Here is a taste:
Once upon a time I had a golden arm. For a while my entire life revolved around the acquisition and shooting of as fine a grade of heroin as I could afford.
Speaking from that experience, I am what us professionals call alpha sad dog junkie. I lived it for a long time. Among some of the other junkies I knew at the time I was king sucks dick for horse type.
I know need.
I’ll talk about that story next week and how it came to be. Get it here and use coupon code WARG95 for 25% off your whole purchase in the shop.
Next week I have a huge announcement to make, a big ass squee filled book review, more Yeah Write and some other really awesome stuff. So come back.