The Slush Pile

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Many years ago, not long after I first moved to Los Angeles, I met a guy named Steve Boyett. We became friends and he introduced me to Jessie Horsting who, at that time, was the editor and publisher of Midnight Graffiti Magazine*. I was young and volunteered to work on the magazine, which should come back because it was amazing. My first job was to read slush. I told Boyett this one night while we were having a late night breakfast at some 24 hour diner. 

“You’re gonna hate it,” he said. “It’s horrible.”
I nodded and continued eating.
“How much time you planning on giving each story?” he asked next.
“I’m going to read every story all the way through,” was my enthusiastic, if naive answer.
“Uh huh.”
“I’m a writer,” I continued. “I know I would want my stories read to the end.”
“But you can actually write,” he said. “You’re stories are easy to read through to the end.”
“And all writer’s stories deserve the same treatment,” was my retort.
Boyett just smiled at me. “If you read more than three that you’re not going to buy all the way through, I’ll pay for the next breakfast.”

I made it through one, completely. And the entire time, from about the third paragraph, I kept saying to myself, please don’t let it end in the most obvious way, please don’t be that cliche. It was and it did. And that was it for my noble attitude about reading slush all the way to the end. Boyett was right. You could tell within the first page or two if it was going to be worth reading to end, regardless of whether or not it was right for the magazine.

All of which brings me to this post from Andromeda Spaceways, where Douglas A Van Belle writes about A Comprehensive and Totally Universal Listing of Every Problem a Story Has Ever Had. Enjoy!


* a full write up on Boyett and Horsting and their not so insignificant impact on my life should happen at some point.

2 thoughts on “The Slush Pile

  1. Corollary 3.1: Dialog is inherently superior to prose. If you can replace three sentences of narrative with a single line of dialog, you are morally obligated to do so. In fact, if you don’t you will go to hell, directly to hell without passing go, and it will be one of those really bad levels of hell where all the fiction is written by accountants.


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