Tuesday, June 19, 2012

TCR Literary Journal Series: Beloit Fiction Journal

The Committee Room is happy to continue its Literary Journal Series with a look at the Beloit Fiction Journal.  Founded in 1985 by novelist and journalist Clint McCown, who was then a young professor of English at Beloit College in Wisconsin, and a group of enthusiastic Beloit College students, the BFJ has since its inception provided a showcase for both established and unknown writers. Fred Burwell, writer and blogger, was a member of the original student staff.  He sums up one of the BFJ's guiding principles when he recalls those early days -- "We discovered that manuscript cover letters with laundry lists of past publications meant nothing – it would be too easy to stock a magazine with names familiar to the literary magazine establishment. Only the quality of the story mattered."

Chris Fink took over as editor of the Beloit Fiction Journal when McCown stepped down in 2005.  A widely published writer of fiction and non-fiction, Fink's stories and essays have appeared in many publications including the Alaska Quarterly Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Malahat Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Other Voices, and Phoebe. His book of fiction, Farmer's Almanac, is forthcoming from Emergency Press in 2012.  He formerly edited the Cream City Review.

Fink graciously sat down for an interview with TCR.



TCR Talks with Chris Fink, Editor of the Beloit Fiction Journal

Chirs Fink
Q: What separates the BFJ from other literary journals?
A: The Beloit Fiction Journal has had only two editors in its twenty-seven year history. We have history and we have continuity. These are two qualities that the majority of literary magazines lack. Further, as a fiction-only journal, the BFJ is certainly in the minority among literary journals in the United States. A traditional three-genre journal might feature two or three short stories per issue, while the BFJ usually prints thirteen to fifteen. Because of this format, we have the luxury — and I almost feel it’s an obligation — to consider longer fictional works, such as long stories and occasional novel excerpts. The trend over the past fifteen years has been toward longer stories, and at the BFJ we don’t turn these away because of space restraints. So, history, continuity and commitment to fiction sets the BFJ apart.

Beloit College newspaper, 1984
Q: What vision did you have for the BFJ when you took over as editor in 2005?
A: I wanted to continue and to honor what Clint McCown started in terms of his commitment to publishing fiction-only. On the other hand, I wanted to leave my own mark on the journal. The biggest change, I think, is that I have a little wider range of appreciation when it comes to contemporary fiction. In each issue, I like to see a mix of traditional story-telling and experimental modes. I like fiction that takes formal and stylistic risks, and I want experimental writers to know they have a potential home in our pages. I sometimes feel asthough readers and writers of realistic fiction aren’t even aware there’s another way. I still admire a well-plotted, realistic narrative. I know this is currently the most popular way to tell a story — but it’s not the only way.  Also, it’s very important to me as an editor to work against the anonymous culture of the literary publishing business. I can’t respond personally to each submission, but I certainly can respond to each acceptance! I know as a writer that most journals don’t do this. It’s common for me to get an acceptance, a contract, and a copy of a journal with my story in it without having any personal interaction with an editor. As writers we wonder if an editor is even reading our submissions. I sometimes have this feeling even with accepted stories! So, I always write a personal note to each writer whose work I accept, telling her what I admired about the story, and why I chose it, among its hundreds of brethren, for publication. I’ll often call a writer on the phone. This may not be much, but I want the writers in the BFJ to know that their work moved me, and how it moved me, and to congratulate them for their success. I’m also more liable than some editors to work with a writer whose work I feel is “close.” Finally, I've made a few stylistic updates to the journal, both on the covers and the page design

Q: What is the BFJ's circulation?
A: We’ve printed as many as 1,200 and as few as 800 copies. Between libraries and individuals, we fill about 300 subscriptions. The rest of our sales occur at local venues, conferences and exchanges.

Q: How many manuscripts does the BFJ receive in a typical month during its submission period?
A: About 175 per month. Over our four month reading period we receive about 700 submissions.

Q: What percentage of submissions are rejected in the first round of reading by staff?
A: I would say that eighty to ninety percent of submissions are rejected in the first round.

Q: What are some common reasons a manuscript is rejected?
A: In most cases, a manuscript is rejected because the prose lacks polish, originality and cohesion. At the level of the sentence the writing just isn’t publishable. Or it’s uneven: the writer doesn’t have control of the language. I can usually tell very soon if the writer has control and perspective; this is the most difficult aspect of fiction writing. Another common cause for rejection is that the story just isn’t finished. I’ll like the concept, the prose, the voice, but at some point the story takes a wrong turn and never gets back on track. I see a story as an artistic composition — like a painting — and the composition must be whole. Occasionally, if I can identify the missing elements, I’ll work with a writer on “finishing” the story. I don’t mind difficult stories, and so I’m not an editor who says the story has to have me by the first page. I’m a good reader, but I’m not so arrogant as to think that I always know by page one if a story is publishable. Some of my favorite stories in the BFJ are ones I had to put down and come back to. I know that stories that are “easy” to enter — usually chronological, first-person narratives — have an advantage, so I try to read with that awareness.

Q: The staff of the BFJ is made up of undergraduates.  Does having such a young staff affect what we see in the BFJ?
A: It’s hard to say. My fear is that they miss something, especially the challenging story that is difficult to appreciate on first-read. On the other hand, if I were reading all 700 submissions myself, I’d miss stories through fatigue and distractedness. I have teams of four editors, so every single story that comes across our desk is read by at least four editors. I wonder how many other magazines can say that. I know when I read for the Cream City Review as a graduate student — before I became fiction editor there — a story would live or die on the reading of a single graduate student. I think that’s more the norm in this industry. In the end, I’m confident of the system I have in place. In each issue I believe readers will find thirteen to fifteen stories that could have been published in any of the finest literary magazines in the country, including the glossies.

Q: Does the BFJ seek readers beyond the academic "field" of creative writing?  If so, how do you reach these readers?
A: This is a tough one. The primary audience for literary journals tends to be other writers and students of writing. If you’re in this business you’re constantly unsettled by that closed circle, the snake eating its tail, if you will. On the other hand, we do very well locally and regionally, at coffee shops and bookstores. I know the sales here are not going to other writers. One of my biggest goals for the BFJ is to increase our circulation, and every year we make strides toward that goal.

Q: Could you talk a little about the benefits of the BFJ publishing only fiction?
A: As I mentioned earlier, publishing fiction-only allows us to consider a broader spectrum of styles, approaches and lengths. If you’re editing a three-genre journal and you have forty pages to devote to fiction, you’re not going to tend to give those pages to a single voice. In each issue I’ve edited, we’ve had stories that exceed 6,000 words. We’re always on the lookout for flash fiction as well. Also, in each issue I’ve edited, we’ve featured at least one writer’s first published story. I’m proud of this. And it’s simply not going to happen in a different format.

Q: Do you agree that contemporary readers are more interested in non-fiction than fiction? If so, why?
A: I suppose this is true. This is the subject of a dissertation, but I’ll give you my gut reaction. I think it has mostly to do with marketing. I think one could track the rise of reality TV to the rise of the memoir. Not to discount the memoir form, but its spike in popularity isn’t due to the superiority of the form (versus the novel). It has something to do with an audience’s voyeuristic impulse on which both producers and publishers have capitalized. A fiction writer’s job is to tell the truth. The same as the memoirist’s. The most fundamental goal of realistic fiction is verisimilitude. But it’s easier and it takes less imagination to see the truth labeled in all caps: BASED ON  A TRUE STORY. Writers know that all stories are based on true stories. Audiences have forgotten. But form is a fashion, like anything else. I hope in my lifetime the pendulum swings back to the short story, which is my favorite form.

Q: Does the BFJ have any plans to expand its online element or to become an online-only publication?
A: We’re not going online-only anytime soon, though we have updated our website and we’re now including some online content.

Q: You previously edited the Cream City Review and Reed Magazine. Could you comment a bit on the changes in the literary world since you worked on those other journals?
A: One big change, as I’ve noted, is the length of a short story. When I was a graduate student (editor and writer) in the mid to late 1990s we were told that you couldn’t publish a story that was longer than about fifteen pages. Pick up an issue of the Best American Short Stories from the '90s and one from 2010. You’ll see a dramatic increase in the length of the average short story. I would say that the average published story in 1998 was about 3,500 words. Today it’s about 5,000 words. I think this trend follows (or perhaps leads) the rise of the memoir. For certainly there has been a parallel rise in realistic fiction. There were still a good number of postmodern stories being published in the '90s. Those experiments tended to be shorter. Realistic stories, especially stories of domestic realism, tend to be longer. I personally think that the genius of Alice Munro, who routinely publishes fifty page stories, has more to do with this trend than any other single factor.  Fifteen years ago a fifty page story was a novella. If you’re an aspiring writer, and you’re reading these long, gorgeous, brilliant stories in every other issue of The New Yorker, what are you going to do, write like Barthelme, or write like Munro?

Q: How do you balance your work as a writer, editor, and teacher?
A: At the BFJ we have a reading period of August 1 to December 1. We publish in the spring. After each issue, I get to take break from editing. Over the years I’ve grown to love editing, but I wouldn’t want to be doing it year-round. Same with teaching. It’s very gratifying work, but you can fill up on student fiction, and then you need a break. I tend to do most of my writing now in the summer and on breaks. During the school year, I can devote time to a project or two, but teaching takes a front seat, for me. All three endeavors take a substantial time commitment—if ones hopes to be any good. And contrary to what many writers say, I find the energy for teaching, writing and editing all comes from the same well. I suppose they feed each other, but I know for sure they compete with each other.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you face as the editor of a literary journal?
A:  For me, honestly, it’s keeping up with technology. I don’t have any personal interest in web design or social media.  I know a lot of journals have a stronger web presence than the BFJ. I suppose a journal is a reflection of its editor. I don’t have a Facebook account and you won’t catch me tweeting. This personal characteristic (flaw?) is reflected in the BFJ. Distribution is also a constant (and related) challenge. When you produce a beautiful, intelligent, and meticulous journal like the BFJ, you want to get it out there for people to read. It’s much more difficult to get distribution than it was a decade ago.

90 comments:

  1. Not sure why my last comment was deleted, but what I'd written rings as true today as it did several days ago: while we should be happy that there are places like the BFJ out there, to compare the quality of the work it publishes to the "glossies" is simply hyperbole of the worst kind that smacks of envy. There is no writer in America who--given the choice--would publish in BFJ over the New Yorker, not even the proud editor of this small journal.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I really appreciate this insight into the history and editorial policies of such a venerated literary magazine. Keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nice post you’ve written here. You’ve made me drop my first comment on BBT after being a spectator for a few months. I don’t know how you did it, but I’ve fallen in love with you especially your personality and diligence as a blogger. Citi Commercial

    ReplyDelete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this
    posting?I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and
    I really like your style. Thanks a million and please keep up the effective work.Best Crypto Pump and Dump Group

    ReplyDelete
  6. Nice blog, very informative and good blog.
    Thanks for posting this type of Nice blogs.
    online qa training

    ReplyDelete
  7. By reading this article I get a lot of lessons and this is very useful . cara menggugurkan kandungan

    ReplyDelete
  8. Jaipur Independent Escorts comparable forms of directions, you are successful to be happy to get it at wherever Jaipur Escorts within the city of Independent Model Escorts in Jaipur. On the off threat that you are a caring Jaipur Escort of men and women who strength reliably has some staples to veneration, then you certainly ought to organize for it.
    Jaipur Escorts Girls
    Jaipur Escorts Service

    ReplyDelete
  9. D-bal Max is 100% safe alternative to Dianabol (Methandrostenolone) steroids.
    Buy Dbal Max - The Natural Dianabol Supplement That Boosts Your Muscle Mass.

    ReplyDelete
  10. ProSolution Gel is a male performance enhancement lubricant. This gel boosts nitric oxide levels the moment it is applied. ProSolution gel sounds really good – right? A gel that can rid you of all those sexual performance problems you'd rather bury in the back of your mind and forget.
    male enhancement reviews
    male enhancement lubricant
    male performance enhancer
    pro solution gel
    Prosolution Gel
    dick pump
    penis pump before and after
    Buy Prosolution Gel
    penis pump results
    male enhancement gel reviews

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am really very happy to find this particular site. I absolutely enjoying every petite bit of it and I have you bookmarked to test out new substance you post.

    ReplyDelete
  12. the information is very nice and helpful to us, thank you for sharing.
    Kizi 1000
    Friv 100
    Friv 1000
    Kizi 2
    Kizi 100

    ReplyDelete
  13. thank you, I read and always read the article on this website

    ReplyDelete
  14. Nootropics is for people who want to keep up on the latest breakthroughs in brain health and optimization and the related areas of neuroscience.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks for this wonderful information. You posts are really nice and interesting. Writing style is also very amazing Independence Day Speech in Malayalam

    ReplyDelete
  16. vigrx plus reviews Does VigRX plus really work? Real reviews from customers, ingredients, side effects, clinical studies and where to buy.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Male Extra Reviews Looking for proven pills for male sexual performance, stronger erection without side effects? Male Extra Pills maybe the answer

    ReplyDelete
  18. Vigra reviews Does VigRX plus really work? Real reviews from customers, ingredients, side effects, clinical studies and where to buy.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Wow i can say that this is another great article as expected of this blog.Bookmarked this site.
    best legal steroids
    phenq

    ReplyDelete
  20. sizegenetics before and after
    It's been a full 6 months since I began using the SizeGenetics extender & I've decided to share my before and after pics.

    ReplyDelete
  21. female libido enhancer will ultimately lubricate your vagina, thus increasing the sensations and your desire for sexual pleasure. HerSolution was exclusively created

    ReplyDelete
  22. Supercharge your workouts and transform your body in as little as 30 days with Crazy Bulk legal steroids. Shop now for free shipping.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Maxoderm Review is the revolutionary topical Male Enhancement System discovered by thousands to help improve erection quality, sensation and the feeling of firmness.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Buy Phen24t's been 90 days since I started using Phen24 to try and lose weight. Here's my Phen24review and results with and how I did it..

    ReplyDelete
  25. phenq france Wow I can say that this is another great article as expected of this blog.Bookmarked this site.

    ReplyDelete
  26. male extra sale Wow I can say that this is another great article as expected of this blog.Bookmarked this site.

    ReplyDelete
  27. DO NOT BUY Provacyl Until You Read This Review! Check Out Side Effects, User Feedback and genuine Comments! Tips Included.
    phenq

    ReplyDelete
  28. Its as if you had a wonderful grasp on the subject matter, but you forgot to include your readers. Perhaps you should think about this from far more than one angle.
    Cute halloween costumes for couples
    unique halloween costumes ideas
    Womens halloween costume ideas 2018
    best couple costumes ideas

    ReplyDelete
  29. I Read Your Contant its Very Interesting But Here I Found More Information. I Think you Like it: MX Player Pro APK Free

    ReplyDelete

  30. I Read Your Contant its Very Interesting But Here I Found More Information. I Think you Like it: TubeMate Video Downloader APK

    ReplyDelete
  31. I Read Your Contant its Very Interesting But Here I Found More Information. I Think you Like it: TikTok ( Musically ) APK

    ReplyDelete

  32. I Read Your Contant its Very Interesting But Here I Found More Information. I Think you Like it: FileHolder.info

    ReplyDelete
  33. DO NOT BUY Provacyl Until You Read This Review! Check Out Side Effects, User Feedback and genuine Comments! Tips Included.
    phenq

    ReplyDelete
  34. Sellrento.com is the first Indian free local Classifieds & Marketplace site where you can Sell, Buy and Rent anything. Sell or Rent anything from used cars to mobiles, properties, furniture, laptops, clothing and more. Submit Ads for free. If you want to buy something - here you will find interesting items, cheaper than in the store. Start selling, buying and renting on sellrento.com with just one click. An sell, BuyAnd Sent in Faridabad, Delhi NCR, Gurgoan, Noida, Pune, Mumbai, Banglore, Chennai, Kanpur, Amritsar, Palwal,& All India.


    Visit It :- Buy old and New Properties in Faridabad
    Visit It :- sell old and New Properties in Faridabad
    Visit It :- Rent old and New Properties in Faridabad

    Visit It :- Buy old and New Car in Faridabad
    Visit It :- sell old and New Car in Faridabad
    Visit It :- Rent old and New Car in Faridabad

    Visit It :- Buy old and New Electronics in Faridabad
    Visit It :- sell old and New Electronics in Faridabad
    Visit It :- Rent old and New Electronics in Faridabad

    Visit It :- Buy old and New Bikes in Faridabad
    Visit It :- sell old and New Bikes in Faridabad
    Visit It :- Rent old and New Bikes in Faridabad

    Visit It :- Buy old and New Furniture in Faridabad
    Visit It :- sell old and New Furniture in Faridabad
    Visit It :- Rent old and New Furniture in Faridabad

    Visit It :- Buy old and New Mobiles in Faridabad
    Visit It :- sell old and New Mobiles in Faridabad
    Visit It :- Rent old and New Mobiles in Faridabad

    Visit It :- Buy old and New Book & Hobbies in Faridabad
    Visit It :- sell old and New Book & Hobbies in Faridabad
    Visit It :- Rent old and New Book & Hobbies in Faridabad

    Visit It :- Buy old and New Fashion in Faridabad
    Visit It :- sell old and New Fashion in Faridabad
    Visit It :- Rent old and New Fashion in Faridabad

    ReplyDelete
  35. dianabol uk Wow I can say that this is another great article as expected of this blog.Bookmarked this site.

    ReplyDelete
  36. askwomens Wow I can say that this is another great article as expected of this blog.Bookmarked this site.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Thanks for this great post. Download clone hero game for free from: clone hero

    ReplyDelete
  38. Thanks for this great post. Download nova launcher app from: nova launcher prime apk

    ReplyDelete
  39. Breast Enlargement Pills For Women Breast Size Enhancement Pills for Fuller Larger Breasts. Total Curve

    ReplyDelete
  40. brestrogen-reviews Wow I can say that this is another great article as expected of this blog.Bookmarked this site.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Very detailed post on wonderful ideas. It would be really helpful.Androrat APK.Download Skype Resolver Free.MX Player Pro APK.TubeMate APK.GTA San Andreas APK. Thanks for sharing. Really appreciate it.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Nice point of you. would like to hear more from this platform. thanks ludo king apk free download

    ReplyDelete
  43. hiroproleanxs-reviews Wow I can say that this is another great article as expected of this blog.Bookmarked this site.

    ReplyDelete
  44. PhenQ is a prescription-free, natural alternative to weight loss drug phentermine. Now that you have an idea for how diet pills work, let's look at your best options.

    ReplyDelete
  45. When visiting blogs, i usually discover a very good content like yours.Funny thanksgiving poems

    ReplyDelete
  46. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  47. The Vidmate is one of the best video download portals for all platforms. Vidmate for iPhone

    ReplyDelete
  48. PhenQ is a prescription-free, natural alternative to weight loss drug phentermine. Now that you have an idea for how diet pills work, let's look at your best options.

    ReplyDelete
  49. PhenQ Reviews is a prescription-free, natural alternative to weight loss drug phentermine. Now that you have an idea for how diet pills work, let's look at your best options.

    ReplyDelete
  50. I discovered your blog website on google and verify a couple of of your early posts. Proceed to maintain up the superb operate. I just further up your RSS feed to my MSN Information Reader. Seeking forward to reading extra from you in a while!…Christmas Tree Braided Hairstyles for Little Girls

    ReplyDelete
  51. PhenQ Reviews is a prescription-free, natural alternative to weight loss drug phentermine. Now that you have an idea for how diet pills work, let's look at your best options.

    ReplyDelete
  52. This is really awesome, am so glad to read this informative article. I must confess this one of the exceptional blog that I have ever come across. Keep sharing this kind of information to users.

    I'm a freelancer by profession, I can help you write a blog post on any nich, incase you may need a professional writing service, here are some of my articles:
    Quick tips on Email marketing tips,
    Best free music download sites get high quality mp3 audios,
    Download AnonyTun Pro Apk best free vpn for Android,
    Best places to Watch Hindi movies online free,
    Best 17 GameCube ROMS for Dolphin Emulator,
    A professional tips on How to write a cover letter,
    Ultimate guide to Human resource management,
    Best websites to download free movie,
    Abokifx today's Black market Naira to Dollar exchange rate,
    Best working iptv m3u playlist url to watch live iPTV channels free on Kodi and Roku
    .
    Do you need my service?

    ReplyDelete
  53. maleextrareviewguide Wow I can say that this is another great article as expected of this blog.Bookmarked this site.

    ReplyDelete
  54. I do know who to make moves and act into the bed to treasure your all sexual longing and need but I am not limited there but I am inviting you to come and make your all kind of need to meet with complete enjoyment..

    Mumbai Escorts

    mumbai-Escorts Photo Gallery

    Cheap Escorts Service

    Mumbai Call Girls Whatsapp Number with Photo

    Escorts whatsapp numbers

    Mumbai Escorts Service

    Low Price Escorts in Mumbai

    Hot Escorts in Mumbai

    House Wife Escorts Mumbai

    Independent Escorts Service in Mumbai

    ReplyDelete
  55. I'd like to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this blog. I'm hoping to check out the same high-grade blog posts by you in the future as well. movie box

    ReplyDelete
  56. I am based in Delhi, and one of the deluxe Independent escorts, offering elite escort services and friendship to gentlemen of taste and refinement. I am a 22yrs, stylish, elegant, fun-loving sexy beauty, part-time independent, high class escorts service in Delhi.

    Delhi sexy escorts

    Delhi Cheap Escorts

    Low Price Escorts in Delhi

    Cheap Rate Escorts in Delhi

    Escorts Whatsapp Number

    Call Girl Whatsapp Number

    ReplyDelete
  57. Our Call Girls in Delhi While you want to spend efforts marketing to gain new clients, make sure you dedicate equal or more effort to ensure that your existing clients come back for more. What does it take? It is as simple as treating them with compassion and respect. I have a client that books me every time a few weekends out of the year, and he told me that the reason he enjoys spending time with me is because I am kind to him. I kid you not; kindness goes a long way.+91-8512888789


    Delhi Escorts


    Beautiful Escorts in Delhi



    Delhi Escorts Photos



    Cheap Escorts in Delhi



    Escort Services in Delhi



    Delhi Escorts Whatsapp Number



    Delhi Call Girls Whatsaap Number


    Indian Independent Escort Delhi

    ReplyDelete
  58. If you are wondering what sort of reasons are there for you to look for such a Netbet Bonus Code, the answer is pretty straightforward – you get the chance to maximize your winnings. Despite the fact that you can always visit the original website to gain access to a William Hill Promo Code, you should know that this kind of information might be hidden at first.


    http://dailypressreleases.over-blog.com/2018/11/where-can-you-find-a-william-hill-promo-code.html

    ReplyDelete
  59. Our Delhi Female Girls register in Delhi.net give you with a magnificent option of Delhi Escorts Girls to make a probable an amazing relaxes for you. An independent Delhi Escorts sheet allow you to vision the Delhi Female Escorts available in the all Delhi area and to contact them in organize to make a date. Our universal index is Delhi Escorts Agency. We in attendance Delhi Escorts Service, Visit my web: - http://malti.in/

    Delhi Escorts
    High Class Delhi Escorts Girl
    Rohini Delhi Escorts
    Delhi Escorts Photos
    Cheap Delhi Escorts
    Delhi Escorts Whatsapp Number
    Model Delhi Escorts
    Escorts Services in Delhi
    Model Escorts in Delhi
    Call Girl Escorts in Delhi
    Moti Baag Escorts Service
    Delhi Female Call Girl
    Delhi Escorts Agency
    Escorts in Delhi
    Independent Delhi Escorts
    Delhi Call Girls in Hotels
    Delhi Escorts Service in Hotels
    VIP Call Girls in Delhi

    ReplyDelete