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2004-04-21 1:45 PM
No More "Gawdnah! Buy My Story!"
Wow -- Gardner Dozois is stepping down as editor of Asimov's SF Magazine. Good for him, though it's sad to see an era end like this. He's going to focus on his writing, which is good news for me, as I quite like his short fiction (never read his novel). Although it does mean I'll have more competition with magazine editors now. Maybe he'll just focus on novels. He's done a fine job with the magazine over the past two decades.
I have to say, having editing (and published -- ouch!) Intracities on a whim last year, being an editor is a curious, sometimes tedious, occasionally rewarding endeavor. You have to read. A lot. And a lot of what you read can be bad. I was lucky in that I didn't get swamped with submissions -- only about 65 or so -- and the quality was relatively high.
The addicting part about being an editor was the rush of coming across a story that fit perfectly into your anthology or magazine. That happened for me a couple times with Intracities, and you start rooting for the author as you work your way through the story, hoping he or she doesn't fumble the ball and lose the story along the way. And when you hit that final sentence and the story holds together and, on a rare occasion, really SINGS, it's a huge rush. The good stories jump out at you.
Unfortunately, you have to deal with the bad stories as well, and rejection letters. And I know people have gotten crazy mad at Gardner for rejecting their stories. I've gotten probably 20-25 rejections from him, ranging from the form letter to the personalized to the the "almost, but not quite" (those sting a tiny bit!), and I've never felt like I was being slighted. And I've been fortunate enough to have gotten three acceptances from Gardner over the past 3 years.
I'll miss not getting rejection and the rare acceptance letter from Gardner. He's a great editor, and a pretty damn cool person -- I first met him at Clarion in '96, when he was a guest editor there for a few days, around week 5 (and in one night he'd read ALL the stories written at Clarion so far, plus each of our 2 submission stories, and had excellent comments on each for our one-on-one conferences with him), and then hung out with him and Kris Rusch and a dozen other writers at a short-story workshop in the summer of 2002. You can always count on Gardner for a great story, whether told out loud or in print, so I think it's a good thing he's going to be writing more fiction.
I owe him big-time, in any case, as he picked up my story "Natural Order," a couple years ago, and helped my so-called "fiction-writing career" get some great momentum. I'm sure his replacement, Sheila Williams, will do a great job as the new editor, and I wish her luck. After 14 Hugos in the past 2 decades, Gardner's left some sizable shoes to fill. Later!
(Oh, and the whole "Gawdnah! Buy My Story!" from the title of this entry was something my buddies Chris and Aaron and I concocted during Clarion for all the writers acting like fanboys around Gardner, pitching stories at him and hoping with all their might that he'd buy one from them. You got to do it in a Linda Richman accent: "Gawdnah! Bouy mouy Stouuuury!")
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