Diversity

By Geoffrey C Porter

Website http://www.geoffporter.com/

Having a diverse work force is an admirable goal for large corporations and government agencies. Companies like Google, Apple, and Microsoft should make sure that their work force is a diverse one. By diverse I mean that its population is similar in make up to the population as a whole. If the population is 25% white male, their work force should strive to have approximately 25% white male employees. If 10% of the population is LGBT, I would further expect 10% of major corporations to be LGBT.

Many magazines and anthologies encourage diversity. They will say something along the lines of, “No White Male Authors” or “Female only” or “African Heritage Only” or “Muslim Writers Only”. That's great for them. I applaud their efforts. White male authors do tend to dominate in publishing and writing, and I agree 100% that other voices are very important.

For Untied Shoelaces of the Mind, we make no effort in diversity. We have two white male editors and one white female editor. With just three editors, that's about as diverse as we're going to get. In addition, we make no effort to publish a diverse group of authors.

Before you come after me with pitch forks and torches, let me explain.

One, we are based solely on the Internet. There is no way humanly possible for me to confirm or deny an author's ethnic background, religion, orientation, or equipment. Two, we publish solely based on a story's merit. If you want to see us publish from diverse authors, convince diverse authors to submit more stories to us. If we don't get a story from a spotted squirrel, we can't publish her story.

I was told that I am biased towards white male authors. I don't agree with that, but I will stand by one thing that is biased. Dialect.

In general, I want clean English in the dialog and in narrator observations. If a story is loaded with dialect of any kind, odds are I'm going to reject it. Now it's been argued that I talk like a mid-westerner, and that is my dialect. Honestly though, I try and edit out the gonna and kinda out of my dialog, even though to me that's how people talk. Well, even if people talk that way, for me, the characters need to be speaking English, 'cause we're an English magazine. Right there is dialect, using cause instead of because. And I don't want to see dialect in our stories, unless you're Mark Twain reborn, and then it best be some Mark Twain quality of work.

The other big issue is we don't get enough stories to choose from to try and form a diverse publication. If we had 15 stories we loved after three months in the slush piles, then we could say, ok, eight of those stories are white male, and only five of the stories are from females. And there's only one story by a LGBT. So, sort through those 15 great stories, and make sure they're diverse. That's not how our slush piles work.

Usually we get 1-2 stories a month that are viable. And typically it's just one per month. So, if we waited until we had 15, our response time would average 7+ months, and many people would be waiting over a year. That's just not cool in my opinion. Also that would mean producing a new issue less than once every year. What kind of magazine produces an issue once a year? To avoid this problem, we would either have to magically get more stories (pay pro rates, which we cannot afford), or we'd have to lower our standards.

Frankly, if I start selling a lot of books, pro rates are in our future, but that is a pipe dream. Lowering our standards is not an option. Issue #9 took us eight months to produce, and it's really strong. Hell, every issue is awesome, and we're going to stand by our standards no matter what.

Open for Submissions Since September '09.
We hope to reopen in 2017.