I don’t think I want to start listening to podcasts. I am too old to start listening to podcasts, now.
Dream: It’s closing time at the ice cream factory. A loud whistle the shape of a hat stand blows. My two male friends, who are tall sugar engineers from Finland, ask me to decide if either of them is my work husband. But there are no work husbands at the ice cream factory, I tell them, we are too busy combining sugar, cream, eggs, and other ingredients to make ice cream in large vats that are cold and covered with crystalline lattices of frost. The men get lost. They do not have time for me and I do not have time for them. They are talking to Nadia, the 59-year-old woman who checks to see that the lids are secure on the ice cream cartons. She says she will accept their proposal and removes her hairnet. She smiles like a lamprey. I hate Nadia. I walk to my car, telling myself as I bang one fist with conviction against my thigh with every step, that I will have to quit if the factory stops making the Tin Roof flavor. It is the only flavor I like. It is why I work there. I will not accept anything less than a job that allows me to make Tin Roof ice cream. My car is gone. The lights go off. I am trapped in the parking garage.
All number of literary magazines are now charging money to read your writing, the fees are between $2 and $5 and I have spent $61 on reading fees this week. I have not left my house for days and my fingers hurt from typing “Dear Editor, here is an ambitious essay about shotguns” or “Dear Editor, here are four poems that I wrote last January when I had pneumonia and lost my senses of smell and taste”
Do we need more than one literary magazine? What if we had just one and only one literary magazine, and what if it were the size of a phone book from 1979? What if it put all its content online once a day for discerning internet readers, and then removed it to make room for the next issue? What I’m saying is that having one magazine would make the reading fees more manageable. I can’t predict the quality of One Big Magazine. I’m saying that instead of $61 I would have spent only between $2 and $5 this week. I would be high on the hog. I would probably go the store and buy a bag of candy and scatter it to the open hands of strangers with a carefree gluttony of spirit that I would one day like to experience but cannot, at this time, because of reading fees.
One thing that goes along with reading fees is each magazine’s “A note on the reading fee.” When I read these notes I am filled with chartreuse feelings of contempt and hostility. These are emotions that I am not accustomed to feeling in or around literary magazines. I do not want to read a note on the reading fee. I would rather read Notes from the Underground or even Postcards from the Edge. Here is a primitive word cloud I made from collected Notes on the Reading Fee
- might be a pain / continued support / rest assured / new and exciting / subscribe!
- designed for the folks who prefer to be published in print / spectacular / typical / expectations
- nonprofit / nominal / connect / justified / committed
- exposing / widest / vital / vibrant
- must / costs
They get you by saying that the costs are equivalent to the costs of stamps and envelopes. But I have never spent $61 on stamps and envelopes. I find stamps and envelopes in the garbage or in my neighbors houses, where they are freely available.
Here are the things that I can no longer afford because of the reading fees I have just mentioned
- A coffee mug that says “Worlds Greatest Writer”
- A summer home in Montana that backs onto 61 acres of land enclosed by a rusty cattle fence, the thought of which puts a bad metal taste in my mouth and a sense of masculine pride in my heart
- Ballet shoes from zappos.com
- A dog from the Humane Society
- A two year subscription to the New England Review
- A sandwich at Whole Foods
- Old pieces of wood from behind the library
- A subscription to news.google.com
- A realtor’s license
One of the magazines that charges a big reading fee does not reply to your submissions. Watch out for this one. They update the submission manager with the word “Pass.” This reminds me of an English lord who owns a fleet of soft-coated Wheaten terriers. They are spending my $10 on Wheaten terriers and wallpaper for their stately country homes.
Fortunately, a handful of the magazines that charged me a reading fee this week are “paying markets.” If one of them accepts my essay or my phlegmatic poems, I will make my money back and beat it straight to the candy shop. That is, unless it’s the one that only pays $50. Then I will still be $11 in the red. I will have to satisfy myself with videos of candy being hurled at strangers, if I can find them.
The reason I don’t know what to say when people ask “what are you writing” is that if I knew what I was writing I’d be home, writing, not talking to those people. I’d be home writing about the smell of the heat off radiators or the expression on horses faces or the color of the walls at Sears.
Dream: Someone who looks like Abe Vigoda opens a donut and book shop underneath the down ramp of a parking garage. The donuts are stale and waxy. They are the color of erasers. I grow competitive with him and force my adult children to stage an ouster. We get rid of the donuts, and the books, which amount to nothing more than travel guides and Daphne du Maurier paperbacks that are in bad shape. We put in a caged jaguarundi and a wrapping paper station for Christmas shoppers. But this is Venezuela. The shoppers could see a jaguarundi anywhere. We go out of business. We are trapped in the parking garage.