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Everything wrong with publishing: McSweeney's

Sunday 7/3/22

I have been up all night working, and going through months of the inbox, and I am not in the mood, having seen yet again how all of these people behave. The evil, the sickness, the pettiness. Below is a chain of email correspondence, going backwards--but chronologically--from the bottom: me to McSweeney's, me to an English professor/provost about McSweeney's, that English professor/provost to me. This is the referenced journal post from my email, about what you'd have to right now to be a good writer, and this is more background on Claire Boyle, the editor in chief of McSweeney's, and the kind of man that fellow McSweeney's editor John McMurtrie is. And if you even have to ask, of course they didn't respond. These are bad people. Not just here. Almost everyone in this industry is this way. They don't care about literature. You could tell them it'd save the world--or make it a lot better--and even if they had a guarantee from the gods, they wouldn't care. They're not interested in that. They're not interested in making money, either, though most of them come from it. It's ego. Pettiness. Their incestuous cliques. Assuaging their insecurities. It's childish. They hate and fear life. They hate and fear life in prose. They are trained to look for work as meaningless, as empty, as dry, broken, visionless, as they are, because it comforts them in their nothingness. They have no courage, morals. Would you not respond to the letter to Boyle and McMurtrie that you see below? You wouldn't let it get to this point. But if I said this to you--and it's all true--would you be too scared to face me? And even if you were, wouldn't you have principles? Self-respect? So that you'd have to face me. I am a deeply kind man. I will listen to you. And I think everyone knows that, including these people who, as another friend said the other day, "if they saw you having a heart attack, they'd look around, and if no one was watching, they'd think, 'hey, Colin is down, now is my chance to smother him with a pillow.' That's just the truth. This goes that far." You see everything here. There is no arguing with what is obviously the reality. I just put it before you. You know me. You know my work. You know my moral character. You watch how I handle myself. You read these pages, and you know the person I am. You see enough of my emails to these people. You see the fiction excerpts in these pages. You know how good all of it is. All of this is real. I don't have to exaggerate anything.


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Oh my God, Colin. This study in contrast is maddening. These people simply aren't your audience--academic navel-gazing of the worst kind. They are a circle of mirrors gazing at a common reflection of nothing. zilch, nada. There is more meaning in an arid desert--more life, too. I don't know how you do it. That said, please keep doing it. The fiction you are producing is incredible. The excerpts from stories on the blog are of such high quality nothing compares to it. Your readers are out there and you will reach them. Keep at it, my man.


On Thu, Jun 2, 2022 at 5:24 PM COLIN FLEMING <> wrote: Read the letter below, but also look at the fiction from McSweeney's that I attached. It is amazing how dreadful that is. It's always like this, Peter. If I graded out as a six as a writer on a scale of 1 to 10, I'd still be croaking these people, because every last one of them--there is not an exception in the world--is awful at writing. Every one. They all come from the same place. None of them work, write that much, know anything, etc. So if any of them were even born with ability, that's irrelevant. I don't need to repeat myself here, but read what I put up on the blog today about this subject. What you'd have to do to be a great writer in this current world. And it's yes to this garbage you see attached, because of who it came in from, and "F--- Fleming with anything he offers us." ---------- Original Message ---------- From: COLIN FLEMING <flemingcolin@comcast.net> To: "claire@mcsweeneys.net" Cc: "jlmcmurtrie@gmail.com" Date: 06/02/2022 5:16 PM Subject: "Fitty" I'm sure you remain shook and horrified by what happened in Texas. I know you don't like me, blocked me out, what have you. But literature is supposed to impact the world. It's supposed to matter. To make a difference in lives. To reflect the times, channel the times, and transcend them. Literature is meant to give us hope, no matter how hard life can be. I'm asking you to take twenty minutes and read the attached. Run it. Let it impact the world. Or the people who read it, anyway. I wrote it in 2019. I revised it in 2021. I worked on it again this year in prepping it for a book called There Is No Doubt: Story Girls. It's about a school shooting, but so much more. It is of this age and for the ages. We are here to do good in the world when we can. This is the story version of that. I've mentioned this work before to you in an earlier guise. But if you read it, there's no way you're just going to go, "well, whatever, it's fine, not that good." This story matters, however you feel about me. (McMurtrie: I worked for you for a long time. I thought you were a good man and one of the best editors I've had. There have been hundreds, and you are in that group that can be counted on hand. Please read this. You'll know how good it is. I'm not overselling it. I also hope you're well, sir, and can perhaps make it to one of those West Coast NBA Finals games and cheer on our Celtics.)