Ted Genoways, editor of the Virginia Literary Quarterly, notes that the supply of short fiction far exceeds the demand:
Here at VQR we currently have more than ten times as many submitters each year as we have subscribers. And there’s very, very little overlap. We know—we’ve checked. So there’s an ever-growing number of people writing and submitting fiction, but there’s an ever-dwindling number of people reading the best journals that publish it.
Last summer, Louis Menand tabulated that there were 822 creative writing programs. Consider this for a moment: If those programs admit even 5 to 10 new students per year, then they will cumulatively produce some 60,000 new writers in the coming decade. Yet the average literary magazine now prints fewer than 1,500 copies. In short, no one is reading all this newly produced literature—not even the writers themselves.
I suspect many people that enter creative writing programs are less interested in producing literature than they are in using the medium of fiction writing for self-expression and self-exploration. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, of course, but it does explain why we have few great works of modern short fiction but piles of boring, navel-gazing short stories.
(Via: Alan Jacobs)