Eyeshot’s Tentacled Rejecting Appendage
The best thing about internet-published fiction writing a few years back was getting a rejection letter from Lee Klein at Eyeshot.
The best. Seriously.
“At first I thought you took some pages from a Frank McCourt memoir, copied them, then added a dash of Pac Man.”
Lee was funny. Lee was direct. Lee was fucking merciless.
(Lee is still all these things, by the way. Eyeshot remains. Eyeshot continues to publish and, as far as I know, continues to reject. But, now, on the submissions page, you read: “PLEASE REALIZE we used to try to respond very quickly, often in mere minutes, generally within 48 hours. And that we used to tend to have some fun with our rejection letters. Now we might just send a link to a beautiful form letter. But occasionally we may still respond personally and performatively and whatever, depending on time and energy.”)
His rejections sometimes felt like a prolonged, broken narrative, a story being sent out to the world, one person at a time. Luckily, he collected them for us.
“This is like the sixth submission I’ve read in three days that has involved the dentist. Something is very wrong with the world if the world’s writers think that writing about the dentist office is gonna turn readers on. There’s an entire world out there, and yet writers write about the dentist office, as though there is no other event worth writing about.”
Become an editor for an online journal. Start responding to submission. See how long it takes before you start typing: “Can’t use this at this time. Good luck finding a home for it elsewhere.”
I takes a couple of months. Klein, though, kept up an astonish amount of editorial energy.
“Read Matt Klam’s Sam the Cat – he does the same sort of thing you do, sort of, but in a way that seems a bit more artful and thereby lessens the blow of the ass talk etc. But thanks for submitting and good luck.”
Eyeshot has been around for almost ten years, and for many of them, Klein was doing this: honestly reacting to the work writers were sending him. Remembering that they had sent things before.
“Hi—thanks for sending something again—! think this is a pretty good traditional-type narrative that would probably have a very good chance at most traditional-type websites and probably a few print journals too. But it’s not right for Eyeshot because there are no radioactive cows in it.”
Holding a writers feet to the fire. Enjoying himself.
“Learn to spell FELLATIO! I’m not going to post this because it’s not funny at all. But thanks for sending it.”
Lee Klein is the father of internet literature. I’m just going to go out on a limb and say that. He owns us all.
He was opinionated, and helpful at the same time.
“Why call this flash fiction? or sudden fiction? Those are sort of silly things to call something you wrote, right? Regardless, I don’t think this bit of writing is right for Eyeshot. The length is good, but it involves childhood and we’re really trying to stay out of that area – but the good news is that there currently exist eight dozen websites willing to accept nicely rendered stories like this and so you should have no trouble finding a home for this one.”
Honest, which is really what every writer needs, even if its not what every writer wants:
“Thank you for submitting. I can’t use it for Eyeshot. I’m having one of those days in which I can’t explain myself. You ever have one of those days? You make decisions but you can’t come close to arranging words into sentences etc about these decisions, yet you’re still confident you’re making the right ones? Some days I’m all intuition . . . All I can say is sorry and please send more stuff one day.”
His writing is bad-ass, too. Find some of it.