From the Editor's Desk: Notes on Fiction

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by Michael J. Kannengieser

Back in the days when I was “on the job” in New York City, I was always in danger of being cornered at parties and other social events. Typically, someone I just met would learn of my profession, and immediately size me up. After a few mild questions about law enforcement, they would go for the jugular and beleaguer me with complaints about traffic summonses they got for speeding, or ramble on about some cop in the city who was rude to them — or worse. I’d do anything to bail out of those situations short of faking a heart attack.

Those days are over, and now I work in the Information Technology field. After leaving the N.Y.P.D., I went back to school and received my technical certifications in network administration. Starting at the bottom, I continued learning and proving myself until I landed the position I have today.  Yet, while I have an entirely new career, the situation has not changed in my social life.

At parties, barbeques, and other occasions where I have to put on nice clothes and take a crash course in table manners before heading out in public, I am often cornered by someone with computer problems who automatically thinks I am willing to fix their laptop or solve their networking issue for free.  I am way past the level of desktop support in my business. I manage a department and have folks working under me; still, I am not interested in making house calls for minor repairs just because some guy brought the matter up with me at some get-together over a beer.

It is interesting to note that after I accepted the position of managing editor for this fine publication, no one has bothered me about it. Yet, they ask: “What does a managing editor do?” Folks at gatherings learn of my new gig and I see a puzzled look come across their faces. Sure, it sounds impressive to work for a magazine. The very title “editor” implies that one reads submissions and checks for errors. However, there’s more to it than that.

My job is to seek what is best for the magazine, discover new talent, accept work from established writers, and to act in a professional manner. Still, there’s more to the role. There’s an obligation to sustain the imaginative, often quirky, and entertaining atmosphere which characterizes “The View From Here.” Sure, I accept serious fiction; but, there has to be a message from the author, hidden somewhere in the paragraphs and punctuation marks, that they care about their efforts and what they have submitted is their best.

There’s a relationship between the writer and the editor which begins with the query letter. In effect, this is a business liaison and must be treated as such. There are resources out there for writers which explain in painstaking detail on how to approach an editor and what to write in a query letter. Informal salutations, poor grammar, gratuitous self promotion, and other unprofessional language are a huge turn-off. Sometimes when I am reading submissions, I feel like I am at a party, with my back against the wall, and speaking with someone who assumes that simply because they wrote a story and they think it is good, that I must accept it and place it in the magazine.  The message I have for potential contributors is to do some research, read the magazine and the submission guidelines before submitting, and take a crash course in party manners before sending out your letter.

So far my work has been satisfying and I am proud to be associated with such a fine periodical. I look forward to reading more submissions from writers who are insightful and creative, yet honest in their efforts. The stories I have accepted for 2010 are excellent; and, “The View From Here” going into this year, looks very good, indeed.

Photo by Christopher Barrio


kathleenmaher said...

Your fiction section, Michael, is among many good things I'm sure are in store for all of us in 2010.

Michael J. Kannengieser said...

Hi Kathleen,

Thanks Kathy! I am excited for TVFH in 2010. -Mike.

Kerrie Anne said...

Am looking forward to seeing what you have instore for us in 2010 Michael.

Michael J. Kannengieser said...

Thank you, Kerri Anne! We have some terrific writers on tap for our readers. -Mike.