(12/6/00 5:40:28 am)
'Allo to all,
I think there are enough writers on this board to start a forum about forums. Who is receptive to work (fiction, poetry or other) with a fairy-tale/mythic bent, where have we had luck publishing, etc. There are some excellent references on the Endicott Studio page, but does anyone know forums beyond these that are seeking submissions? This could also be a space to discuss current writing projects, perhaps get suggestions/feedback. Or not. I just thought I'd open it up. This is my tale, I've told it, and in your hands I leave it :-)
(12/6/00 6:11:15 am)
That sounds like a great idea - I know that if graduate school doesn't work out (quiver of fear) I'd like to know more about the other options in the field - which publishing houses or magazines are looking for mythic or fantasy related articles, which are good about hiring, etc. At this point, though, my writing is more academic than creative ... acceptable or not? Either way, should be fun.
(12/6/00 10:04:44 am)
|Quivers of Fear|
Helen, I just quickly wanted to let you know that I'm right there with you. Graduated last year, currently applying to MFA programs. And quivering with fear.
For more sympathy e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
(12/6/00 2:00:21 pm)
I don't know much, but if your writing is of an academic bent, there's the upenn call for papers mailing list. Just go to the Upenn site, then to the english department site and follow the links. You'll get a lot of mail from this, most of it probably not relevant, but something comes through every now and then- a collection someone's putting together or a conference- sometimes there's a call for creative work, although it is mostly academic. They do have an archive you can search through without joining the mailing list.
For creative work, the inkspot site (www.inkspot.com) has a list
of markets. Also, I myself am seriously considering putting together
a literary e zine, to feature both creative and critical work and,
naturally, I would like to include mythic work. Only problem- I
am very, very technologically ignorant and graphically challenged.
I am trying to learn Html and I think I may be some time!
Helen and Cory-Ellen, you have my deepest sympathy. I've just finished the first year of a Phd and I appreciate what you're going through.
Kerrie, I wanna read your book of poems too!
(12/6/00 5:06:28 pm)
Gods, so you've both been through this process, in varying stages already. I commend you both. I'm only applying to three programs, and I'm starting to feel kinda like the heroine of a fairy-tale myself - the kind where there are three onerous tasks to be fulfilled. Hopefully I'll be rewarded at the end ...
Thanks for the suggestions on potential publishers. I've got one
chapter to go before I can start mailing this sucker out, and I'm
at the point where instead of thinking about the material 24/7 I'm
starting to wonder what I'm actually going to do with it once it's
done (it just seems like a little bit too much to be just a writing
sample for applications, even a boffo writing sample). Don't know
if anyone's interested ... it's an examination of the attitudes
towards knowledge and power as reflected through the acquisition
of magic in myth and literature (i.e., magic is generally inherited
or granted by some friendly supranatural source until the Middle
Ages, when the growth of accessible educations results in characters
like Malory's version of Morgan Le Fay ... for his intents and purposes,
a fully human figure - the remnants of fairy tradition implied in
the name notwithstanding -educated at a nunnery, one of the new
centers of learning, who can go toe to toe, as 'twere, with more
traditional magic users of apparently impressive power, like Merlin).
It goes through four literary periods - Classical myth, Arthurian
legend, the absence of/antipathy towards magic displayed in Victorian
times (i.e., Eliot's Casaubon), and modern urban fantasy, the modern
including Pre-Raphealite writers onwards. I'm planning to fill in
the blanks next semester -even I'm not foolhardy enough to think
that I could successfully tackle the entire Western literary tradition
in one semester. Two, now ...
Hopefully it'll impress some (wish we could do italics) graduate school enough to accept me.
So what are the rest of you (including the board members who I don't know from Adam - or Eve, for that matter) working on currently?
(12/6/00 11:58:32 pm)
|What a timely post!|
Cory-Ellen - your suggestions for a forum sound like an idea in the making!
I jumped out of the medieval realm and into the creative writing department this semester and got a (fairly yucky) taste of how fantastic literature is looked down upon by the literati (such as they are?). The response to my mythic fiction piece ranged from an adament refusal to suspend disbelief to hideous references to disney characters and (speak about quivering!!!) Smurfs. I still shudder when I think about it...
Anyway. Cory-Ellen: remember how great it was at the conference in Omega - where everyone was on the same page? I think it would be wonderful to have a place to share writing and ger feedback on it as well as a site to explore publishing possibilities within a specific genre.
(12/7/00 12:04:37 am)
|What a timely post!|
Cory-Ellen - your suggestions for a forum sound like an idea in the making!
I jumped out of the medieval realm and into the creative writing department this semester and got a (fairly yucky) taste of how fantastic literature is looked down upon by the literati (such as they are?). The response to my mythic fiction piece ranged from an adament refusal to suspend disbelief to hideous references to disney characters and (speak about quivering!!!) Smurfs. All that from a couple of characters that I described as wrinkly old men! I still shudder when I think about it...
Anyway. Cory-Ellen: remember how great it was at the conference in Omega - where everyone was on the same page? I think it would be wonderful to have a place to share writing and get feedback on it as well as a site to explore publishing possibilities within a specific genre.
PS - My apologies if this post appears twice - I'm still getting used to the tech thing!
(12/7/00 3:09:34 am)
I reiterate, Smurfs!?! ... I think that that reference in particular says a lot more about their mindset then about your fiction (grumble, grumble). It's the same attitude I get when people ask me what I want to specialize in - oh, the connections between myth, folklore, and modern literature? How nice ... (followed by a condescending smile and possibly a pat on the hand). It kind of reminds me of the reaction that I used to get when I told people that I was majoring in English (so you're going into the food service industry, hmn?). The big consolation is that there are fewer stock jokes on hand.
Edited by: Helen at: 12/7/00
(12/7/00 11:18:05 am)
You're right Helen. The smurf train of thought wasn't a personal affront, but it was still a little disturbing in that so many people jumped to the disney/cartoon images. Sigh.
Anyway, I got the same reaction as you did when I was an undergrad English major. When I applied to grad schools, almost every single advisor felt obligated to inform me of the less than pretty state of employment for people in the English field (amd that was even before specialization was discussed). Nonetheless, I found a program that would allow me to pursue studies that interested me and signed on because
1/. Education may or may not broaden my employment horizen, but it will certainly broaden my mind. And
2/. I am a firm believer in the philosophy - do what you love and everything else will follow.
Good luck in your search for schools!
(12/7/00 12:42:49 pm)
There is an interesting journal, "Mythosphere"--a nice combination of academic and imaginative. I have a piece I am thinking of sending to them. They have a web site with an impossibly long address which I will screw up no doubt. So do a search for "Mythosphere"--it's safer!
A friend of mine advised me to construct every graduate paper I had to write with a particular market in mind--he managed to publish most of his graduate papers that way--very impressive. I've tried, but I was always behind schedule and never had the time to do the necessary research of the markets *before* I wrote the paper. Still, if you find a nice list of journals that you regularly read...it's not as hard to think about writing for them at the same time you are fulfilling a course requirement.
(12/7/00 5:08:31 pm)
|Re: ...no, only two hundred ...|
Dear Donna, and everyone else who might appreciate the sheer black humor of it ...
When I told the head of my department about my academic ambitions, he too felt the need to warn me about the unavailablity of jobs in the field. Half-facetiously, I told him not to worry, that I was well aware of the fact, quoting some Ph.D. book that had guesstimated seven hundred applicants for every available position. He scratched his head and said - in all seriousness - "No, last time, we only had two hundred or so ...". And I go to a school that's notorious for underpaying its employees, to the point that they're currently employing me (an undergrad) to teach a 200 level course - I'd hope because of their enormous faith in my intellectual capacities, but I suspect because they can get away with paying me eight dollars an hour, as opposed to the ???what, at least (I hope) four figure salary??? that they'd have to pay even the lowliest of grad students. I don't mind it in the slightest on my own behalf - it's great experience, and an *enormous* amount of fun, but I'm pretty sure that I will when I'm the one who can't find work because of the growing pool of cheap labor.
Think we should unionize?
(12/7/00 7:44:55 pm)
Yikes! You're an undergrad and they're paying you to teach a 200 level course? They're paying you only $8 an hour to teach a 200 level course? I can not imagine such a thing EVER happening in this country (Australia). Courses are taught by professors with doctorates. Undergrads don't teach. The only teaching (post)grads do tend to be tutoring. And you don't even have a union? Double yikes!
(12/8/00 1:12:44 am)
Good heavens, and I thought publishing was bad. (Calvin Trilling once said, very accurately, that the average publishing salary was minimum wage and all the over-priced French food you can eat.)
It's not just in academia where folklore and fairy tales are looked down upon. If Midori, Ellen, Greg and I could have a dollar for every time someone said, "Oh, you're a writer! What kind of books do you write?" with bright-eyed interest, only to have that interest evaporate the moment you say "fantasy books" (or even "fiction based on myths and folklore," in a desperate attempt to maintain some small gloss of respectability.) Even here in my own village, where the woman who runs the annual Arts Festival keeps importing writers from other parts of Devon to read their work because according to her there are no "real" writers in this town. (I hasten to add that *some* of my neighbors like my books, they're not all snobs, thank god. But it always shocks me how many people are, and treat folklore and fairy tales like it will give them some kind of contagious disease. Smurf-itis, no doubt.)
It's also not just in acadmia where one is discouraged from a career interest in folklore. When I entered the publishing field, the best place to work with adult fairy tales and mythic fiction was (and is) fantasy genre fiction, where, as an editor, you are lumped in with the science fiction department. So I dutifully went around to all the science fiction publishers trolling for a job, only to be told by David Hartwell and Jim Frenkel (two sf editors who are now my colleagues at Tor Books) in no uncertain terms that I didn't have what it takes to be an editor and I'd be better off looking for secretarial work. Six World Fantasy Awards later, it's funny how neither David nor Jim recalls ever saying that. <grin>
(12/10/00 7:22:59 pm)
|Writing and school worries|
'Tis the season to be anxious:
I'm also in the process of applying to schools, for PhD programs
in folklore and children's lit; it's absolutely nerve-racking, as
many of you know! I'm praying for either Cornell (with Alison Lurie)
or Minnesota (with Jack Zipes) -- the latter wrote me a very nice
e-mail, which I will NEVER EVER erase from my server; I've got a
bad case of scholar-worship where he's concerned! I, too, get strange
looks when people find out that I study and teach fairy tales and
kiddie books for a living; when I tell them I want to write my dissertation
on Harry Potter, they start backing away slowly, with frozen smiles
on their faces
As for writing, I'm thinking of selling my soul to Llewellyn, a New Age-Pagan publisher; I'm working on a research guide/sourcebook, on different aspects of folklore that would be of interest to Pagans. As an academic folklorist, I've got access to lots of resources that non-specialists don't, and may not even be aware of. It will basically be a series of annotated bibliographies, with accompanying essays -- I'm starting the section on fairy tales soon, and would appreciate suggestions! The publisher has said that they're interested, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed; have any of you had experience with this company?
At any rate, good luck to all of the writers and students out there, and try to take a little bit of time off from worrying to enjoy the holidays (good advice -- hmmm, maybe I should take it...)!
(12/11/00 5:35:59 am)
|The Lur(i)e of Cornell|
I'm applying to Cornell too, Catja. For most of my applications, I was very careful about which of my "fairy tale" poems I included, and used two at most. But for Cornell and Alison Lurie I went out on a limb with three! The bias y'all speak of with academia, fiction and editing is definitely there with poetry too - but since Cornell only takes five people anyway, I'll never know if any rejection is due to the "genre" nature of the submission or just (un)luck.
Mmmm . . . Ithaca in winter . . .
(12/11/00 6:43:26 am)
|It's firmly entrenched, too|
This bias against the fantastic in academia has been cemented for decades, too. When I was in the undergrad writing program at the U of Iowa, a friend of mine applied to the graduate writing program, making the mistake of saying in his cover letter that his submitted stories were science fiction. They were odd enough that they might have slid past the categorization had he kept his mouth shut. He was bounced; however, I had a friend in the linguistics department who managed to get ahold of the critique of the submissions, which began "These stories suffer from what *all* science fiction stories suffer from..." Well, you're dead when viewed this way.
At the same time, I was studying under T. Boyle, who was applying magic realism to his fiction to great, and continuing, acclaim. Again, it was clear that the approach and the attitude had everything to do with how one was categorized. I had the privilege of proofreading his thesis--a collection of stories that became _Descent of Man_, and which is full of fantasy, horror, and sf tropes.
SF writer Joe Haldeman was, I believe, the only sf writer ever let in to the graduate program there, and they admitted him because he had more publishing credits than anyone in the department. Despite which, I'm sure, many of them choked.
(12/13/00 9:36:13 pm)
Probably shouldn't say too much about it here, but as at least partial encouragement to all: I am applying this year for teaching posts in graduate (MFA) programs. Of course my cover letter mentions the fairy tale anthology, and my novel title begins with the phrase "The Complete Tales of . . .", and I have written on tale-like novels for Bookforum and moderated at the 92nd St Y on the same, etc. etc. etc., and I have had, so far, very encouraging interest in my applications. I really labored over my letter of interest, erasing and re-writing the same few paragraphs about my body of work over and over again, worrying over the possibility that I would be perceived as some kind of, um, smurf-girl. But it hasn't happened even with some of the most conservative (seeming) departments, which have received applications in the hundreds.
Not to brag--because clearly, I don't have a job yet! And may not next year.
And Gregor, indeed: as a graduate of an MFA program and one of the screeners for applications to it, we were strictly forbidden, I have to say, to accept anything that was science fiction! It was an actual policy. Of course 'science fiction' was never defined in said policy. And here I was, writing my odd little tales to great praise from professors in workshops, tales about girls who suddenly became quite tiny and lived in bird cages in glass houses and such . . . so go figure.
(12/13/00 10:47:05 pm)
I feel the need to press my two cents into any willing palms...
When I am asked what I am working on for my thesis project, and I explain that I want to create a performance peice based on fairy tales, I either am greeted with "Oh! You want to do Children's Theatre!" (Which, although financially lucrative, is definitely NOT what my piece is intended to be) And then visions of adults wearing wolf-suits and fairy wings eneteraining kindergarteners dance in their heads... the glaze of the eyes follows.
Fairy Tales and Fantasy is not the stuff that Theatre with a capital T is made of, according to "mainstream" practitioners, unless it is Shakespeare or musical theatre (which is a genre all of its own). Modern Theatre is based in Gritty Realism. Fortunately, I am not mainstream, which means I am Experimental, which means I am Soon-to-be-Starving, especially with the new Bush Administration that will be cutting funds from the NEA...sorry...political vent...
(12/14/00 6:48:54 am)
|Post Modern Spin|
Your MFA experience doesn't surprise me--that's the point, isn't it? --that to a great extent it was/is all a matter of how you define it. Your strange tales were experimental fiction provided you didn't tell anyone they were anything else. It's PoMo pigeonholing.
Friends introduce me as a science fiction writer, yet I rarely write anything that fits the category. Fantasist, yes, but that term has little or no meaning to the general public, so instead I'm given a label that means something completely false, and invariably the first discussion is how I dislike Star Trek and Star Wars and really don't do that sort of thing at all. Often there is no second discussion once this has been established.
(12/14/00 11:25:46 am)
No matter where you look it's the same, but different. My agent, for example, tried to avoid the word postmodern when shopping my novel--it's a bad ugly word to commercial publishers unless you are one of about five hip New York boys. Whoops, sorry, got a bit cynical there. Not to mention 'experimental.' Don't use that one with them either, we all know. And publishers don't seem to much like novels of ideas from women, for that matter--whether traditional, experimental, postmodern or what. That's another subject for a different venue, of course. Don't get me wrong about my MFA experience, though: a lot of the students were extremely threatened by my work, which I didn't and don't consider experimental, particularly, though I see what you mean. They are not in the realist tradition (but even I would say most people misuse the term realism). It was rather steeped in tradition (what I was reading then, Kafka, Gogol, Rodereda, etc.). But I was very lucky that the program I was in took art very seriously, and most of the professors recognized what I was doing and respected it without having to name it. They took it on its own terms, which is what you must do with good art. A lot of MFA programs seem to have different ideas though. I got a good one.
By the way, whenever people ask me what my book is 'about,' I now have a strict policy not to say anything like "It's based in part on Russian folklore," because people always misunderstood and figured I was either writing some kind of (bad) romance novel or children's book. I simply now rely on that Capote line from Breakfast at Tiffany's: "They're not the kind of stories you can tell." (To which Holly Golightly replied with perverted glee, "Too dirty?" which no one has ever said back to me, and I'm dying for them to!). I got a bit off the subject here, sorry. We should begin a string about how to talk about our work...something I am trying to figure out very recently, with the impending publication of a first novel, and which you are very experienced with already.
(12/14/00 8:15:37 pm)
What MFA Program did you attend? Give a girl some advice!