The coronavirus moves faster than a glacier but still flattens everything in its path. The consequences are unpredictable. In our underpaid corner of the universe, the topics will change, but the act of writing will not, nor will writers. “A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people,” said Thomas Mann, and no virus will alter that.
I wonder, though, how publishing will change. This plague might thin the herd of magazines and publishers and even hasten the end of print. I’ll never be invited to deliver the keynote at a major book festival if we can’t hold a book festival.
Here’s the obvious thing I’ve noticed: I had submitted stories to 16 litmags (including a litmag called LitMag) well before the coronavirus hit. Those submissions are all still out there. No acceptances. No rejections. No editors begging me to send more because they just can’t make up their minds. I guess everyone’s busy washing their hands and shotgunning British police procedurals and keeping away from everyone else.
Lately, I’ve asked several writers what they think of submitting stories in these strange times. Don’t we all have better things to do, like trying to stay alive? But wouldn’t it help these zines to pay their contest fees so they have at least some money coming in? Shouldn’t we all be doing work that means something to us and keeps our hopes alive?
I don’t have any answers, and the writers I approached haven’t said a thing. They don’t know me and probably think I’m a hacker in a Russian server farm. So what I decided to do is wait until some editor somewhere replies to me – that will give proof through the night that our publishing industry is still there. Then I’ll hit the SEND button.
Take care of yourselves. Keep writing.