Refined Expectations

Expectations

For most people, expectations are the toughest and strongest thing they will ever produce. Expectations compose a diamond-hard foundation for most people’s perceptions of how they fit into the Universe. When reality contacts a person’s expectations, and is not aligned with them, the resulting impact can be seen from light-years away. This is usually bad. Unless you’re an observer, in which case it can be hilarious.

When I first pushed this project out of the gate — maybe dragged is a more accurate metaphor — my primary concern was whether we could gather enough content. I can fix printing issues. I can fix finance issues. I can fix game design issues. But if no one sent us material for publication, this project was dead. And I couldn’t fix it.

I was also mindful that even if we received sufficient material, based upon my past experience, the lion’s share of it would not only fail to meet publication standards, but would be agonizing to evaluate. In years past, I have been exposed to “It was a dark and stormy night…” more times that I care to count. Even published novels with positive reviews frequently fail my Bulwer-Lytton test.

But I didn’t form any expectations. That is my normal MO. The future will resolve into the present irrespective of my expectations, so I endeavor to have none. I fail, but I endeavor.

We posted calls for content, and content we got. We are receiving a half dozen or more submissions every day. Quality does not seem to be a major challenge, either. Only about 20% or so of our submissions really miss the mark. We probably have collected enough publishable material for two complete issues.

Some people would jump up and down amid shouts of “Huzzah!” Yeah, um, I don’t do that. It goes back to not doing that “expectations” thing. I don’t suffer the lows, but I don’t get the highs, either. Saves wear and tear.

That, and there is an issue, and it has to do with “vision.”

Vision

My vision of what I want to publish is reasonably well crystallized in my imagination. Ares is the name of the Greek god of war. He is bold. He is brash. I want the magazine bearing his name to be bold and brash. The stories we have collected thus far are solid, quality stories. But too few of them could be characterized as real action-adventures. Personal stories are great, but I would like to see more swashbuckling and more derring-do.

To that end, I am updating and clarifying our submission guidelines. Perhaps I should clarify what I mean by action-adventure fiction. What I would like to liberally salt every issue with are stories involving danger, heroics, and intrigue. Action stories will be graded along our normal curve, but going forward, stories that are not well-characterized as adventure stories will be graded on a steeper curve. We will still publish more introspective stories, but only the finest of this latter group will make the cut.

Don’t let this dissuade you from sending in anything on our Preferred Genre list. Just be mindful that if it is rejected, that may have less to do with the quality of the fiction and more to do with our desired focus. And if you have some action-adventure pent up inside you, waiting for an opportunity to sneak out of your fingers onto your keyboard, now would be the time to look the other way and let it go. We’ll find the best home for it.

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