Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Six Questions for Andrew Lipstein, Editor, Thick Jam

NOTE: Thick Jam ceased publication in January 2015.

Thick Jam publishes microfiction (50-900 words). All genres are welcome, except erotica. Thick Jam does not publish poetry. Visit now, http://thickjam.com, and submit to thickjam@gmail.com.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

AL: I wanted the opportunity to publish great stories, without attention paid to previously published work, accolades or anything else. I wanted to find truly great, original, creative stories and get them out there.

SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?

#1: It's obvious to say, but if you don't adhere to the guidelines, and if the writing looks sloppy (errors, grammar), it's not getting a chance.

#2: Writing that doesn't fit a mold. You're never going to match your favorite author, and you're never going to inhabit his style, even a third of the way there. I love writing that sounds like a voice you've never heard. If it sounds like a real, completely new person, I'll listen to anything it has to say.

#3: Writing that's unaware. Of course writing in itself is entirely purposeful. No one truly writes for themselves, although we should all strive for it. But the best writing isn't a carefully paved road for the reader, it's a dirty, filthy trail the writer is taking himself on. There are insects flying that you've never seen, carrying diseases that will make your pee turn magenta.

SQF: What common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a submission?

AL: Writing is autobiographical. There are no two ways about it. Even in the most off-the-wall fiction, science fiction, absurdist fiction, the writer is doing something to moments they've been in and then crapping them out as words. The most common mistake is writers who not only cannot get away from the autobiographical nature of writing, but use their stories as the justifications lacking in their real lives.

SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?

AL: I usually provide a sentence or two explaining why we've rejected it.

SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?

AL: I've learned that writing has been the second worst thing to happen to human thought, next to language. To boil your ideas into an arrangement of characters and trust that someone will read that and be able to replicate your thoughts, that's just humans being humans.

SQF: What do you want authors to know about the submissions you reject and how authors should respond? Along this same idea, do you mind if authors reply with polite questions about the comments they receive?

AL: When I reject a story, I'm not saying anything about the objective quality of it. There isn't anything objective about writing. There are goals, and you can succeed or fail in those, but I'm not rejecting because you've failed, I'm rejecting because I disagree with your goals. I don't mind if authors reply with questions.

SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?

AL: If you asked what genre I'm most attracted to, I'd say science fiction. I'd want to say absurdist fiction, but most people think that refers to form, not meaning. Fiction isn't absurd if you misuse commas and employ only run-on sentences. It's absurd if you follow all the rules and you've achieved a surreal communication.

 Thank you, Andrew. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

NEXT POST: 11/2--Six Questions for Jennifer Patterson & Taylor Adams, Editors, Visceral Uterus

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