I am occasionally cajoled by well-meaning friends and readers to submit stories to one of the legion of online literary magazines. I never do. No doubt, were one of my pieces accepted, I would gain a marginal increase in readership, but for some reason the idea of spreading like a rash over the interweb doesn’t appeal. I think, too, there are elements of diffidence and fastidiousness which make me reluctant to seek editorial approval. Sheer idleness also plays its part, for I am happy enough to allow publication on the rare occasions when an editor approaches me, rather than vice versa.

This solipsistic drivel was prompted when I was pointed towards The View From Here. One’s first port of call is invariably the “about us” or “guidelines for submissions” bit. Now, I take an excessively judgmental approach to these things. Is this, I ask myself, the kind of website whose imprimatur I would value? Here is what The View From Here has to say for itself:

… we showcase the weird, unusual, thought provoking and occasionally bizarre. We classify ourselves as “Bohemian Eclectic” — yes, we coined the term. Our stories will make you wonder, laugh, cry and generally FEEL something. We expect to elicit a valid emotional response from our readers.

I make no comment on “Bohemian Eclectic” nor on that peremptory use of the upper case. But I can’t help wondering what on earth is meant by a “valid” emotional response. Here at Hooting Yard, we hope for an invalid response, where invalid is a noun, with the stress on the first syllable. A correct invalid response is the fey mopping of one’s brow, the call for a bowl of pap and slops in a weak and reedy voice, the groaning of the withered as a poultice or mustard plaster is applied to one’s pustules and buboes. Reading while shakily downing a draught of Doctor Baxter’s Invigorating Nerve Syrup is also encouraged.

NOTE : I should point out that The View From Here is by no means alone in announcing itself in terms which find little favour with Mr Key. There are much worse examples littered around the interweb.

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