Culling my library
I am a confessed book lover.
Most writers are, I’ve found. If you want to be a good writer you are also a reader. That’s a given.
I am also slightly addicted to buying and collecting books. When I married – that was over 40 years ago – combining my library with my wife’s library created a big problem. She is also a bookaholic, and a hoarder of books like me. In our first year of marriage I built two large bookcases. Problem solved – for the time being. Then came along the children and they soon had their books too and their own bookcases. When they left home the problem was slightly improved; part of my library is now in my daughter’s home in Clare and a few are in my son’s home in Sydney. It’s alright; I’ve read most of those books.
About 5 years ago I bought another 4 bookshelves from a well known furniture chain from Scandinavia. I had fun assembling them and stocking them with books. You see, the problem had grown to a critical stage: there were large piles of books everywhere. Problem solved – or so I thought. Over recent months the situation has reached another crisis point: not enough room on the shelves for new and recently acquired books.
My office has been in need of a drastic makeover for several years. The situation would make any bomb site look tidy in comparison. Time for action, so over several hot days recently – it was too unpleasant working in the garden – I attacked ground zero.
My technique is simple: sort and chuck. (Some unkind people might have suggested ‘slash and burn’ would have been more effective.) I progressively sorted through every item on the shelves. Some items didn’t belong – like dozens of computer disks. It’s a BOOK shelf – not a storage cupboard. Some books were obsolete and went straight into our recycling bin. I don’t need a copy of a guide to Microsoft Windows 95 or Word for Windows 6 for Dummies or even a 1998 Melbourne street directory. I have a more current version of the directory and don’t need another, and the computer books are now many years obsolete.
The trouble was that I have trouble throwing away books. I can give them away, I can let people borrow semi-permanently, I can even sell to a second hand book dealer – but throw away! Never!
I have to be ruthless and dispose of any book I will no longer read. Some I want to read again – maybe, so I might keep a few. Over the next year the culling will continue until I have enough room on the shelves for the books I want to read again, or I need to use as reference tools.
Now… what about that huge pile of magazines?
Good reading, and good writing.
Studio – a journal of christians writing
Studio Journal has been publishing poetry, short stories and book reviews for over 30 years. I’ve been a subscriber for at least 20 of them and thoroughly enjoy reading every story, poem and review. Studio is published quarterly and usually runs to 36 pages (A5 size) packed with literary gemstones.
Because it is essentially a compact journal, competition to be published in it is intense. I’ve only managed to get one story published in this journal, but I should be fair to myself as I really haven’t bombarded the editors with submissions. The submissions do not have to focus on spiritual topics, though some do. On the web page is says:
Studio is a quarterly journal publishing poetry and prose of literary merit, offering a venue for previously published, new and aspiring writers, and developing a sense of community among christians writing.
I highly recommend this fine journal. More information, including submission guidelines, can be found on the Studio website here.
Writing success – magazine article
It is always nice to have a writing success – even if that is a modest piece of success.
This week I received a copy of a magazine which featured an article written by me. This article dealt with how I coped with the stresses of teaching in the few years before I retired. In one sense, writing this article went a small way to helping me heal from those challenging years.
Having my deepest feelings hung out in public was a little confronting, but I’m pleased I did it. It’s not the sort of thing I would ever publish here, nor often comment about. All I can say is that I sometimes find that writing can be a significant part of the healing process. I especially find that with my poetry.
Submitting poetry or fiction to magazines
Yesterday I wrote about the huge number of poetry and fiction e-zines on the internet. These now number in the thousands and more are being added daily. Before this trend on the internet began there were already many thousands of print magazines that accepted poetry and fiction for possible publication. This creates a dilemma for the writer just starting out.
Where do I send my work?
For the inexperienced this can be daunting task indeed. There is so much to chose from. How do I go about it and how do I decide where to send my precious writing? Let me suggest some simple steps to follow. I acknowledge Graham Catt’s article (click here) for many of these ideas.
How to Submit to E-Zines
- Research: do your research first. Find or make a list of e-zines and study the list for potential markets for your writing. Make a short list.
- Read: read several issues of the e-zines which interest you. This is relatively easy as most are available free on-line.
- Check: the credentials of the editors; are they qualified to be editing a magazine or are they just enthusiasts doing this as a hobby?
- Analyse: be really objective about the style of the e-zine. Would you feel comfortable having your writing in that magazine? Does the style match your style of writing? Does it have a particular theme or aim? As a silly example, it is useless sending your lovely poem about a cat to a SF magazine (unless the cat is from an alien world).
- Frequency: how often does the magazine appear? It may be hard to have your work accepted if there is only one issue per year.
- Guidelines: Before sending off your wonderful writing (which you’ve spent many hours rewriting, editing and checking) the last step is to check the Submission Guidelines. These vary from magazine to magazine. If you can’t find the guidelines on the web site, send an email to the editor requesting a copy. Follow the guidelines carefully; ignoring them is a sure way to have your writing rejected.
Submitting to print magazines:
The process outlined above is largely applicable to print magazines as well. It is harder to find back copies of these online so you may have to raid your local library to read them or even subscribe to a few to get a feel for their style. My local Writers’ Centre also has back copies of a wide range of magazines.
It has been said that if everyone who submits their writing to magazines in Australia subscribed to just three magazines, most editors would be able to pay their contributors. I subscribe to nine that are directly related to writing.