This morning I received several outraged e-mails, all stating I'd undermined the credibility of the Million Writers Award by not kicking out all the stories which were under 1000 words (see yesterday's post for more on this). Others wanted to know why we didn't employ a legion of fact checkers to go through each nominated story to make sure they met the award guidelines.
In response to that last question, I am the entire fact checking army for the MWA. I am ultimately responsible for any mistake in the award process. I collected the notable stories from each preliminary judge--all 164 of them--and then did my best to screen them to make sure they met the award criteria. As I stated yesterday, I made mistakes. In my haste to get the notable stories up, I missed several that came in under the 1000 minimum word count. One of these stories was so far under the word minimum (at only 208 words) that I felt I had no choice but to remove it. Two or three other stories were in the 700 to 1000 word range and, feeling these were closer to the intent of the award guidelines, I let them remain in the notable stories list.
Which brings us back to the main point of these outraged e-mailers, which is that I undermined the credibility of the award by doing this. To which I respond: Bullshit. What the e-mailers are really complaining about it that their flash fiction didn't get considered for the award while the judges had the audacity to pick someone else's 700 word story for this honor. As stated, none of these stories should have been picked for this notable list--that was a mistake. Still, a judge felt these two or three stories were worth honoring. So what are these e-mailers suggesting: That I revoke this honor from someone whose story is only slightly under the guideline minimum? Will that make you feel better that your own story wasn't considered? The complaints on this strike me as rather self-centered.
The MWA has one of the most open and transparent nominating processes of any literary award. Our goal is to bring attention to deserving writers and their stories. I have admitted making some honest mistakes with this year's list of notable stories. If anyone feels this undermines the credibility of the award, then that is what you will believe. However, I also hope you do not merely state this opinion in the privacy of an e-mail or a closed forum. Put your own credibility as an author on the line. E-mail me and ask that your stories not be considered for this award in the future. I will be happy to remove your name from consideration from this point onwards (or, if you have a notable story in this year's list, remove that story from further consideration). I will also publish a post in the near future naming all the authors who feel this way and contact me. After all, I wouldn't want anyone to risk taking part in an award they consider lacking in credibility.