to now

Eyeshot Is Once Again Over

We Were 7'5'', 297 lbs, Blushing, 
Swervy, Salivicious, 

Welcome to a quick history of the semi-literary website known as Eyeshot's Hindenburg Complex of Infidels & Crusaders ("Eyeshot.net" or "Eyeshot," for short). A few things inspired our "launch" in August 1999:

1) An article by Vince Passaro in Harper's said "With the Internet comes the possibility of such an inexpensive distribution system of large blocks of language that writing essentially will become volunteer work, and similiarly oriented toward triage for victims of our culture."

2) Circa 1998/99, the good-natured awesomeness of our experience with the saintly people at The Barcelona Review, our correspondence, translation, and publication on one of the earliest/best lit sites, amazed us. (All this relatively new internet stuff seemed really cool at the time -- revolutionary was a not uncommon word used with regard to its potential.)

3) A lot of semi-crappily conceived, unattractively named conventional sites at the time seemed to ape well-established print journals that consistently (and, in retrospect, quite rightfully) rejected the Eyeshot editor's early submissions. And even some of the less-pukey conventional sites, like the now-defunct Blue Moon Review, repeatedly rejected our shit. And so we reduced the then-unbridgeable aesthetic distance between editor and writer by submitting our stories to our own site and then accepting them (though please realize that we didn't bother sending submissions and acceptance letters to and from ourself, largely because we're not insane). And we ultimately tried to make a place that used the medium to its advantage, offering rolling posts instead of so-called "old-media issues."

So, in sum thus far: some writer/reader dude in his mid-to-late 20s, a loser who'd worked in an antiquarian bookstore for $7/hr and had just started working as a medical editor, this wannabe schlub who couldn't get his stuff published anywhere, started a lit site. And then he populated the site with his own unpublishable stories, attributed to pseudonyms. Before too long, uninspiring submissions rolled in, with the occasional story that made it all worthwhile. He continued to post his own oft-rejected stories under ridiculous pseudonyms, and short9oddities that could only be posted online (and only if the editor and writer were one and the same).

A move to Brooklyn in August 2000, plus the very important arrival of a digital camera, helped particularize and prettify the site's very simple design (a hybrid of Suck.com and the original framed look of Ubu.com). Despite the simplicity, we've always wanted things to seem intentionally labyrinthine in terms of navigation.

So now what? Oh boy! Life in the big city! NYC feted our undernourished consciousness with certain cultural events, for example an early McSweeney's reading and an after-hours Will Oldham show. And then things started to take off in the summer of 2001 when we posted a very popular piece about American Writers and Their Hair soon after a bawdy interview (that's recently been removed) with a very flexible man. Then the oddities we posted got odder as a crew of youngish writer types, many inspired by the humorous heydey of McSweeneys.net, started submitting postable stuff.

Did the Eyeshot editor try to differentiate Eyeshot from the previously mentioned site? He did. (That little Q&A just then was a little joke related to a syntax trend at the turn of the century that derived from the aforementioned popular site.) Maybe for a while a few hundred people who were "into" offbeat literary websites might have thought of Eyeshot as the perverted alternative to the previously mentioned, extraordinarily more popular site -- a site that at the time inspired (or influenced or spurred or in some way was related to, or at least seemed always in the mix somehow or a dominant domain to consider if starting a new lit site etc) the creation of sites and print journals that lived for a while and then either:

1) Died a quick death like the American Journal of Print, Reinventing the World, or Facsimilation

2) Lingered lovingly then expired like Haypenny, (Parenthetical Note), Dicey Brown, Uber.nu, Sweet Fancy Moses, Surgery of Modern Warfare, Pig Iron Malt, Bullfight, Somewhat, Absinthe Literary Review, Taint Magazine, and finally after a long good fight, Pindeldyboz.

3) Or have somehow sort of humbly and awesomely beat on against the endless current of blogs, youtubes, social-networking hubs etc, such as Hobart, Monkeybicycle, and Opium, or the slightly later Yankee Pot Roast.

4) There was also a later wave of kindred sites, some still operational or at least still accessible, created and run by contributor friends, such as Duck and Herring, Konundrum Engine Literary Review, Lamination Colony, and Pequin.

5) And King Wenclas and the Underground Literary Alliance were always around for us to muss with.

Whew. Lots of sites. (So sad that most of those sites in italics above, if you enter their old URLs in a browser, now lead to weird generic pages offering debt consolidation --  if not something more hardcore, as expected, like sites loaded with links to unicorn porn). And of course there were other sites sort of unrelated to these (like Failbetter, 5_Trope) and others not necessarily unknown to us (though more or less forgotten), and some may even still exist . . .

Please remember that you're reading the history of Eyeshot, and that we're talking about the history of literary sites from our POV, as opposed to that of, for example, webdelsol.com, which has always been around and which linked to Eyeshot early on, thereby amazing us by officially recognizing us. But what's cool, we think, is that all these sites -- related or not, still alive or not -- were part of the first, real, semi-communal wave of using this thing called the internet to post writing that was generally accessible, admirably amateurish, often bawdy/humorous, and sometimes even unexpectedly inspired.

So then what happened?

Around 2002, blogging became popular!

Eyeshot contributor Lindsay Robertson's blog was voted best in NYC by the Village Voice!

Eyeshot contributor Maud Newton created her seminal lit blog!

Chicago blogger Zulkey got with our first literary escort!

Even Neal Pollack started blogging (we won't get into the Yankee Pot Roast/Neal Pollack online roast fiasco . . . ).

And as the trend turned toward blogging, excitement re: the creation and upkeep of silly lit sites seemed to steadily ebb . . .

But, seriously, for a time there really had been a sense of excitement about all this online lit shit! A community of recognizable names contributed to a handful of sites and everyone e-mailed each other and met in person and made babies or got married and some have been together ever since.

We helped this along best we could with our literary escort service. But other than acting as a textual vehicle for heterosexual sex, Eyeshot in particular ebbed and flowed, offering:

Several volumes of rejection letters

A hugely successful Silent Reading or two in NYC

A "photofiction" series of stories that are 1000 words about a picture

And several dozen (hundreds?) of pieces contributed by writers from all over the world, including a poet in the Egyptian Army and a kiwi.

Something we posted even won the first storySouth Million Writers Award for Fiction.

There was a Drachen Fliegen epoch, a Jamie Allen epoch, a Steve Delahoyde epoch, a Donnie Boman epoch. Ginny Wray died. And every once in a while in the summer and around Xmas, we posted nothing. All this (and way more) happened before 2004.

But then . . .

In 2004, the Eyeshot editor moved to Iowa City to attend a graduate program, where it was rumored that he would learn to write creative fiction, or at least chill for two years and watch a lot of baseball and Bergman and Herzog movies. Despite all the time graduate school provided, natural inertia and Midwestern ennui (especially compared to all that old-fashioned energy of NYC) and other mysterious forces teamed up to decrease the frequency of Eyeshot's postings!!! Slower times in Eyeshotville . . . But we showed heart! We never quit. We offered correspondence from distant lands. We experienced a tornado. And we celebrated the passing of a master writing teacher.

In 2006, we resituated Eyeshot operations in Philadelphia . . . Things continued to move along relatively stably, if still comparatively slowly, at a pace of about one new posting a month.

In late 2008, we had a burst of e-enthusiasm, adding the Readerly Resonance Chamber and a collection of well-liked posts.

In 2009, Roderic Crooks's "Fuckbuddy" took second place for the 2008 Million Writers Award, and on July 23, almost exactly ten years after we conceived the site, we decided to stop reading submissions and posting short fiction so Eyeshot might evolve or dissolve. 

In August 2009, we started posting a few things but not exactly like some efffin' blog, thank you. 

And then in October 2009, we started reading submissions again and posting new contributions. 

In January 2010, we called it quits again in terms of reading submissions. 

But then, in June 2010, we started reading submissions and on July 4, 2010, we started doing bimonthly "issues" featuring one story and other stuff. 

We stopped reading submissions again in late November 2010. But then in December 2010 we started doing something different and undefined that vaguely felt like the good old days when ye olde internet love was new. 

In mid-to-late February 2011, we reopened submissions -- but not electronic (e-mail) submissions: you had to send a postcard with your e-mail address and as much of the story as you can fit on it. This actually worked for a bit. We also outsourced our daily archiving, announcements, and general evangelical activities to a site called Twitter but then thought that was idiotic and deleted our account. 

On October 26, 2011, we reopened electronic submissions and decided to try to put some energy into creating a safe online space for spastic semi-literary texts. 

On April 21, 2012, we closed submissions again (this time forever!). Again, we figured the site would continue (maybe through solicitations or editor-provided posts etc) but we wouldn't read contributions from strangers. 

But then on July 21, 2012, we decided to open submissions again. WTF not. 

And then on August 25, 2014, we decided to call it quits for good, once and for all. For real this time . . .

And then in July 2017 decided to re-open submissions because why not.

And then a little before the end of 2017 decided to close again, most likely forever. Just don't have the time or energy or interest.

Eyeshot has always been solely owned and operated by one guy (but not this guy). If you would like to make contact or register complaints or send some ecards via electronic mail, the address is lee at eyeshot.net.

As always, please print everything and send links to people who'd trot all hot for what we got, but please realize that all text and images are owned by their creators.

Here's the complete archive.