Letter from the Editor (48)
by Tara Laskowski June 22, 2015
It’s already proving to be a hot summer in D.C., and I feel like I want to be the cat in the art paired with our interviews for Issue 48. Nice comfy couch outside in the shade, quiet all around, half-asleep and daydreaming.
I’m really excited for this issue of SmokeLong Quarterly because many of the stories we’re featuring this time break the stereotype that every story has been written. I’ve seen many articles online recently that have told writers what not to write about or types of stories that editors see too much of. This is true—we do see a lot of stories with the same themes, over and over again. And it’s also true that it’s hard to find a fresh, original story about certain topics. But one of the best things about reading the slush pile is finding that gem.
For example, at SmokeLong, we get a ton of stories about cutting. A sensitive, serious topic for sure, but a hard one to write about. So when we read Kathryn Lipari’s “Twelve Things I Can Tell You About Cutting,” we were so pleased at her original and heartrending take on the subject that we had to have it.
If Andrew Sullivan had ever heard an editor tell him not to write about pop culture subjects because it might alienate your audience, then I would’ve never been delighted to find his Twin Peaks-based story pop up in the queue—a dreamy, noir-ish delight, even if you’ve never tuned in to see who killed Laura Palmer. We’ve got a killer one-sentence story by Timur Karaca, for anyone who might think that one-sentence stories are too trendy. And finally—gasp—a wonderfully taut story by Alexander Lumans that’s told—wait for it—from the point of view of an animal.
My point is this: don’t get too wrapped up in all the nuggets of advice or dos and don’ts that you might hear. Don’t worry about writing to a certain kind of audience or finding a hook you think an agent or an editor might like. Write what you’re passionate about. Write what seems fun, or what you need to get out. Trust in your voice and your way of telling a story, even if it’s been told a million times before. And if you do that, then hopefully, at some point, you’ll find the editor or the publisher that gets it. You’ll find the editor that falls in love, which is all we’re really ever hoping for.
About the Author:
Tara Laskowski has been editor at SmokeLong Quarterly since 2010. Her short story collection Bystanders was hailed by Jennifer Egan as "a bold, riveting mash-up of Hitchcockian suspense and campfire-tale chills." She is also the author of Modern Manners For Your Inner Demons, tales of dark etiquette. Her fiction has been published in the Norton anthology Flash Fiction International, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Mid-American Review, and numerous other journals, magazines, and anthologies. Tara lives and works in a suburb of Washington, D.C.