I’m sorry. I really am. I know it’s a great story. But here’s some reasons why I’m not thrilled by your offer to let me read it.
I do read fast, but I have a lot to read. I’m reading for the Norton Award this year, which has meant an onslaught of books. I’m reading to stay abreast of the field and so I can make intelligent award nomination decisions. And I’m reading for my own pleasure.
You’re not asking me to read it, really, but also to critique it. That takes time, and even just a little crit is a piranha-like bite out of a day already besieged.
You’re asking me to do it for free. I charge to critique stories. Right now I’m not taking any, because I want to focus on my own work. The same goes for Kickstarters asking me for crits as donation incentives this year. I got bit in the butt with a bunch of these all at once, and it’s just not working for me. I’ll revisit this policy in 2015.
You may not want to hear what I have to say. A few years ago someone pressed a manuscript in my hands, and I took the time to go through it pretty thoroughly and explain why it wasn’t ready for primetime and what changes needed to be made. The recipient made it clear that he’d been wanting to hear praise and market suggestions. That was a bit discouraging.
I am not in a position to publish your story. If that’s what you’re hoping, I’m not currently editing a magazine and the couple of editing projects I have coming up are pretty specific in theme. It is extremely unlikely that I will read your story, shout “Huzzah!” and send it off to another editor saying they should buy it.
If you absolutely must have me read your story, you do have the option of taking my workshop. I offer plenty of classes and there’s new sections of both the Writing F&SF Stories and the Advanced Workshop opening soon.
This is hard for me because I have a difficult time saying no to requests. But they add up into vast piles of undone work that dampen all productive effort. So despite all the convulsions and pain this is causing my inner Midwesterner, who desperately wants to be polite… save us both the trouble and send it to your crit group. At least for now. Okay?