The day began with Tony D’Souza’s seminar, “The Writer’s Toolbox.” We looked at some of what we can pick up from earlier writers. The middle of the day was a double dose of workshop in which my work came up. Generally good commentary offered.
And then in the afternoon, one of the items I was looking most forward to, a Q&A period with Deborah Treisman. I recorded this using voice memo on my phone, but the sound levels seem to have been too low to have ended up with a usable recording. Some interesting things that we learned during the discussion: The debut fiction issue had the unfortunate side-effect of having the “vultures” circling the authors featured, some of whom were not quite ready to deal with trying to put together a book-length manuscript. Stories come out of the slush, but very rarely. More often, a work pulled from the slush by one of the interns will instead instigate the beginning of a relationship between the writer and one of the associate fiction editors. Much of what is in the slush is not even remotely publishable. The implication was that the best writers aren’t in the slush because when they’ve reached the level of talent to get published in The New Yorker, they’ll likely have an agent who will manage the submission directly to one of the associate fiction editors. There’s a total of about 400 stories per week coming into the fiction department, about half to the slush and half directly to editors. Speaking of her editing style, Treisman said that what she does is to try not to impose a voice on a story, but instead to attempt to draw the voice out of the story.
The evening publishing panel, in the face of the earlier opportunities to hear from Treisman and Eli Horowitz felt a bit redundant, although there was some interesting insight into the development of Jennifer Egan’s “twitter story”, “Black Box” edited by Treisman and the iPad-based “novel”, The Silent History, edited by Horowitz.