Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Analog without Stan

Locus just announced that Stan Schmidt will be retiring as editor of Analog.  The news saddens me, of course, and I will miss his guidance.  In a very real sense, Stan started my career.  He was the first editor to send me a personal rejection letter.  For the non-writers out there, most editors receive so many story submissions each month that they cannot possibly write a reply to each one.  Instead, they must send form letter rejections, things like, "Thank you for letting me read your story, but it is not right for this magazine."  Believe me, I have a stack of those in a drawer; most writers do.  Stan was the first editor to move one of my stories out of the "slush" pile and give it more detailed consideration.  He rejected the story, but sent me a two page rejection letter where he spelled out what he liked and what needed improvement.  He advised me to put the story aside for a year or so and write more stories to hone my skills.  I followed his advice, of course.  I sent him several stories in the year or two following; all of them came back with personal rejections which spelled out what I needed to work on and offered encouragement to continue writing.  When I finally looked back at that first story that he had commented on, I saw very clearly how flawed it was.  I was glad he had rejected it; I would have been embarrassed to have it in print!  With a couple years of experience and guidance under my belt, I rewrote the story and sent it back to Stan.  That story was Thanksgiving Day, and Stan made it my first professional sale.

In addition to publishing my stories, Stan pulled me into the SF community.  In his response to one of my stories, he asked if I was planning to attend the SFWA reception in NYC and, if I was, would I be interested in lunch with him and a few other writers.  Noob that I was, I didn't even know there was a SFWA reception in NYC.  I had bee writing in a partial vacuum, talking to a handful of people in my writer's group and on the Analog forum.  Suddenly I had an invitation to meet the top editor in the field!  I didn't hesitate to take the day off work and grab a bus into the city.  I still consider that lunch with Stan, Carl Frederick, and Jamie Rubin a highlight of my career.  The conversation was all over the place, as you would expect, from SFWA politics to physics to Swahili (both Stan and Carl are fluent).  At the SFWA reception that night, Stan dragged me over to the "Analog table," where I met Ian Randal Strock, Dan Hatch, and countless others who until then were just names in the table of contents.

I will miss Stan.  I'll miss the thrill of reading an acceptance letter from him, and I'll even miss his clear and cogent rejection letters.  I'll miss seeing him at SFWA events and cons.  But when I feel sad, I have two happy thoughts to hang onto. First, Stan says he will now have time to focus on his own writing, so we'll all have some good stories to read soon.  Second, Trevor Quachri will be taking over the helm at Analog.  I haven't yet met Trevor, but I have exchanged a few emails with him in dealing with galleys and the mechanics of publication.  He has always been professional, helpful, and pleasant, and I look forward to meeting him in person one day--hopefully at Worldcon.  Better, he has worked with Stan for years and knows the vision for Analog.  I'm sure he'll bring his own style to that vision and things will change a bit, but I'm also sure that the overall guiding principals will remain in place.

Good luck, Stan.  I cannot possibly thank you enough for all you have done for me.  You will be missed.


  1. Lovely thoughts, Jay. Thanks for sharing them.

  2. Hi, Juliette; I just noticed your comment here. You caught me while I was away at Worldcon. Now that I'm an old hand at cons, I hope to bump into you at one of them! :)