I will state at the outset that if you are an editor of a literary journal you may put my name on a blacklist of writers to perpetually ignore, but please consider the following:
Good writing isn't worth a damn if it isn't compelling, if it doesn't drive the reader to turn the page, if it doesn't transport us, if it doesn't evoke, if it doesn't excite, if it doesn't show, if it doesn't enable, if it is unrelatable to experience, if it doesn't make us forget we are reading, if it doesn't allow the reader to experience as much of the palate of emotions and sensory revelations as can be possibly contained within a short piece of fiction or nonfiction.
There is a very real difference between good writing and a good piece. You could have words flow from your pen in such beauty that any artist worth their salt would want to capture them for their own use, but if all of that writing doesn't add up to a good story, a well written piece of writing that is interesting then the writing is all for naught.
By way of example, I was at two readings, one after the other. At one a famous author read an excerpt from his book that was beautifully written, compelling, detailed, relatable in that we could identify with the emotions of the protagonist, and made us all want to see for ourselves how the story turned out. I immediately went out and bought the book.
The next night an equally as famous author read a short story published in The Atlantic (to me, one of the most prestigious of all magazines, even beyond The New Yorker). The writing was bautiful and showed that was in control of her craft, but the story was extraordinarily boring. It was to the point that each time she turned the page you could feel the audience sink a little bit in their seats because we all knew we would have to endure another two pages of the story, which was pointless, impossible to relate to, did not touch any of us in any visceral way, and actually undermined the credibility of the editor that selected the piece.
Most recently I received my quarterly edition of one of the literary journals I receive. after going from one cover to the next I found only one piece of writing that was innovative, visceral, emotionally compelling, relatable, and interesting. The rest were well written, and even at times innovative, but beyond that they failed because the stories they tried to tell did not come through, they did not capture my attention.
The caveat to this diatribe is that I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but when one considers the declining sales of short story collections and literary journals I have to ask--what audience are you trying to serve? If it is your own personal interests and belief of what is good, you may very well be failing the larger potential audience that I believe exists for short stories and the offerings of the various literary journals. Readership, in my humble opinion, is down not because it is simply a tough market, but because the needs of the market are not being served, which is the desire to be exposed to the best writing placed within the best possible story--it must be accessible and to be accessible it must be interesting.
Causes James Buchanan Supports
Expanding health care in the US, ending war as a viable tool of foreign policy, and issues related to social justice in general.